Map of the Soul: Shadow --"I wanna be..."

Last April, I wrote an article about BTS’ comeback trailer and first track of their album “Map of the Soul: Persona,” which kicked off their new Map of the Soul era. 

Though they haven’t released any official albums since then, their past 10 months have been more than busy. “Map of the Soul: Persona” debuted at number one in the U.S Billboard 200, making them the first group since the Beatles to have three number 1s in one year, and it became the best selling album ever in South Korea. They began their Love Yourself: Speak Yourself world tour in May, a stadium extension to their previous 2018 Love Yourself tour. In June, they released a mobile game titled BTS World, releasing 3 collaboration songs alongside it. In December, they became the first group to win each grand prize at both the Melon Music Awards and Mnet Asian Music Awards, further solidifying the impact they’ve had.

Still, amidst all the escalating hype and craziness surrounding the group, fans have been anxiously awaiting a comeback and new album, originally speculating that it would happen in November. Instead, a comeback schedule (something the group has never released before) dropped on January 8, leaving fans running around in an attempt to decipher what some of the things listed might mean regarding content. 

The teaser for the upcoming “Map of the Soul: 7” album was the first item listed and it dropped the following day on January 10, while the album itself will be released on February 21 at 6:00 pm KST.

The teaser, titled “Interlude: Shadow” follows a similar format to “Persona” in that its a solo track. This time, member Suga is at the center, with a slightly darker tone than the last album’s intro. The song revolves around Suga’s fears around his and the group’s growing fame, while also looking at some of the questions and topics posed by RM in “Persona.” The song begins with:

“I wanna be a rap star I wanna be the top I wanna be a rock star I want it all mine I wanna be rich I wanna be the king I wanna go win I wanna be…”

Suga raps about his goals and desires, reflecting back on BTS’ debut song “No More Dream,” where he talks about his lack of interest in the conventional goals forced on him by society. In a more direct callback to the song, the next verse ends with him saying “I got a big dream” in what seems like an upgrade from his previous “I don’t have any big dreams” verse from “No More Dream.”

The next verse is where Suga begins to go in-depth into his worries. He talks about the excitement in following rap and music-related dreams, but now his “shadow” is bigger and follows him wherever he goes. The verse ends with him saying “my shadow that gets darker as the light gets brighter.” As he receives more fame and attention, he also experiences more responsibility and more scrutiny over any mistakes he might make. He uses flying as another metaphor for this in the next verse, saying he’s afraid of flying higher and that “my leap can be my fall.”

The song later shifts and Suga switches to a more aggressive flow, now seeming to be speaking to himself. With lines like “I’m you and you’re me, do you get it now?” and “You will never be able to take me off of you, you get it, right?” Suga seems to want to accept this “shadow” as part of himself. Like “Persona,” “Shadow” is influenced by psychologist Carl Jung and this section of the song looks at his archetypes most explicitly. 

The song is aided by the music video’s strong visuals. The video begins with Suga in a hallway with six hooded figures along the walls leading up to him, which are later shown holding on to him when he runs past them. He is later shown rapping on stage, with a crowd of hooded figures recording him with cell-phones. Another version of himself is shown walking through the crowd simultaneously, uninterrupted as they are focused on the Suga on stage. They shift at the end of the song, which closes with the snapping of pictures as they crowd around him.

With this new track out and almost a month until their album release, fans have plenty of time to speculate about the song’s message and what tone “Map of the Soul: 7” might take. Still, based on their track record, the group is sure to deliver a new sound that further explores these messages.