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Map of the Soul: Persona –– Who Are You?

        Kpop group BTS is back in the limelight with a new song and music video! Released rather suddenly on the morning of March 27th, “Persona” serves as the teaser of sorts to their upcoming album “Map of the Soul: Persona.”

        “Map of the Soul: Persona” is set to kick off a new era for the band, who’ve just wrapped up their “Love Yourself” album series. The album takes its name from a book on psychologist Carl Jung’s individuation process, which looks at the way one’s individual self develops through their conscious and unconsciousness. Sounds like a lot for a Kpop group, doesn’t it?

        BTS is no stranger to exploring deeper, often more serious topics through their music, with their first few albums addressing the issues they had with the constraints society places on younger generations. Their debut track “No More Dream” discusses the pressure put on teens and young adults to have big, overly ambitious dreams with little passion for what they are forced to follow. As the name suggests, their last set of albums, the “Love Yourself,” series deals with, well, finding a way to love yourself. Kim Namjoon, the group’s leader, later made the topic the subject of his U.N speech in September, stating that they believed that “true love first begins with loving myself.”

          The band members are also rather open about their own personal experiences and struggles. In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, member Suga explains that he believes “if [celebrities] talk about it openly — if they talk about depression for example like it’s the common cold, then it becomes more and more accepted if it’s a common disorder like the cold.”

        Namjoon, who also goes by the stage name of RM and is the only member featured in the “Persona” teaser, has been particularly open about his struggles. His recent mixtape, “Mono,” delved deep into his insecurities and was particularly vulnerable for what people might expect from an idol rapper. But right now, we’re talking about “Persona,” and this specific teaser track expresses his struggle with his identity, which he feels is split between his private life as Kim Namjoon and his public and stage image, RM.

          RM begins the song with a question–– “Who am I?”–– that is repeated throughout the rest of the song. He’s attempted to dig into the question in previous songs, asking which of the two personas is his real self. Is he hesitant, more reserved and not the perfect-seeming leader that he presents on stage? Or is he that leader, ready to take charge and help his friends and bandmates through their struggles? He states early on in the song that it might be “The question which I probably won’t find an answer to my whole life,” but he continues to explore it even further.

        RM also criticizes the way he’s often seen or talked about in the media. Often criticized for his mistakes at the beginning of his career, mistakes that he’s since apologized for and done his best to correct, it’s been difficult for people to fully separate them from him even six years later. There is a phrase that is often thrown around when another Kpop idol does something people deem problematic–– “but Namjoon ___” –– which is usually used to drag RM under the bus along with them despite the difference in their actions and the time in which they’ve happened. RM addresses this, feeling as if “but” has become linked so closely to his name despite the fact that people don’t seem to care very much about his mistakes in the first place, they only want to use him as a scapegoat.

        RM goes on to pick at his insecurities, feeling that his private persona Namjoon isn’t quite cut out to be the celebrity that RM is, that “someone like me ain’t good enough for music, […] for truth, […] to be a muse.” Even his insecurities are a part of him though, despite the public’s disinterest in them. He then begins to list all the types of “me” that he is: the “me” that people know, the “me” he seems to have created, the “me” he wants to be, the “me” that is smiling, and the “me” that cries. As he lists all of these, he answers his own question. He is a mixture of all of these people, shifting and changing as people always do. He ends the song with the question he started with, “Who the hell am I?” and goes on to tell the listener what is is he wants with a catchy ending chorus:

“Who the hell am I

I just wanna goI just wanna fly

I just wanna give you all the voices til I die

I just wanna give you all the shoulders when you cry”

        RM ends by turning to the listener, wanting to help them by speaking for them and comforting them through their own journey in finding themselves. The group has always been open about doing what they can to help their fanbase, urging them through lyrics and focusing on topics they feel are most relevant to them. If this new track is anything to go by, they are sure to keep doing the same with each upcoming release.

Sam Barrera

Agnes Scott '21

Sam Barrera grew up just outside of Chicago, IL. in a predominately Hispanic neighborhood. She currently attends Agnes Scott College and is majoring in Creative Writing as well as minoring in Spanish. In her free time, Sam loves to journal, find new music, and explore the ATL area.
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