K-Pop stars continue to thrive on sonic diversity...

‘Map Of The Soul: 7’ has officially been released approximately 10 months after its equally highly anticipated predecessor, ‘Map Of The Soul: Persona’. There isn't any confirmation yet, but ‘Map Of The Soul: 7’ is speculated to be part of a trilogy in a similar fashion to past BTS albums. Featuring five already released songs from ‘Map Of The Soul: Persona’, ‘Map Of The Soul: 7’ is a continuation of the (unconfirmed) series.

Before the album’s release, three music videos were dropped. Two solo performances, and one art film featuring vocals from the entire group and dancers from MN Company.

‘Interlude: Shadow’ is the first solo track off the album. This song starts off by listing off past aspirations that he has now for the most part achieved. It samples ‘Intro: O!RUL8,2?’ an intro track from BTS’ first mini-album from 2013, a time where BTS wasn’t “the top”, “rich” or “a big thing.” It starts off with a medium paced beat with some electric guitar in the mix.

The song also does what K-Pop does best by blending genres together, in this case rap with a little bit of rock. That's before it takes a ‘Life Is Good’ turn and fully switches up the tempo and auto tune to a style reminiscent of what's heard on today’s U.S. hip-hop stations.

‘Outro: Ego’ appropriately serves as an opposite to ‘Interlude: Shadow’. The song is far more up beat featuring afrobeats style sounds, akin to the BTS 2018 track ‘Idol’. It perfectly suits J-Hope's upbeat personality.

Just like an intro or interlude is to an outro, ‘Ego’ is the other side of the coin to ‘Shadow’. However, it still holds similarity to it by sampling another 2013 BTS track, ‘2 Cool 4 Skool’ and speaking to past aspirations. It's clear that the underlying theme to the album – in addition to being inspired by Jung’s Map Of The Soul – is reflection and introspection.

In ‘Black Swan’ it manifests as a dialogue on losing interest in what you once loved. The Martha Graham quote the song was inspired by says: “A dancer dies twice – once when they stop dancing and this first death is the more painful.” It's fittingly is accomplished by a somber instrumental with some elements of hip-hop.

‘My Time’ is performed by the group’s maknae (youngest member), JungKook. The track has a Justin Bieber-esque R&B sound that recalls younger JungKook before all the fame and accolades. ‘Friends’ is one of the more playful songs on the album featuring high school friends, V and Jimin. They reflect on the past, present and future of their friendship. And now they’re seven years in as two members of the biggest boy group in the world. In some parts of the song, it felt like something you could hear Panic! At The Disco singing circa 2018.

‘We Are Bulletproof: The Eternal’ despite having “bulletproof” in the title is softer track and a continuation of a 2013 BTS song similarly titled, ‘We Are Bulletproof Pt. 2’. ‘ON’ references yet another 2013 BTS song, ‘N.O’. In a press release, BTS’ label Bighit states: “[they] pour out their hearts through the powerful and energetic hip-hop lead single.” The song is definitely a power-packed track backed by a marching band not short of brass and percussion. It holds the pieces of a quintessential BTS song – something that showcases the abilities of the group’s rap and vocal line. 

Although the sound of the album is wide-ranging, it holds continuity through its lyrics and general sentiment. K-Pop after all is an inherently genre-blending style of music, so it’s no surprise. There was a lot of melancholy and emo lyrics, but in general the album is about introspection as people and a band which can sometimes bring up painful feelings.

8/10

Words: Deb Aderinkomi

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