Monsta X’s Joohoney releases his debut solo album entitled ‘Lights’. Known for his commanding performance, the rapper steps out of group life and presents fans with six tracks that provide an insight into his time as an idol.
Opening track ‘HYPE ENERGY’ begins optimistically. A sudden drum beat triggers a curious voice before abruptly launching into a darkened hip-hop beat laced with Joohoney’s charismatic vocals. His frustration at others whilst simultaneously reminiscing his past is evident as he longs for people to go after what they want. As an opening track, ‘HYPE ENERGY’ perfectly establishes Joohoney as an individual artist, separate from Monsta X as we are already grasping his distinctive character. Following in the same vein, second track ‘Voice’ rekindles the ominous voice that notably howls before transgressing into a striking guitar, entrenched in a trap beat.
Yet, it is ‘Freedom’ that really captivates a listener. What begins as a traditional ballad complete with a glistening piano and Joohoney’s surprisingly light vocals quickly becomes an act of deceit. A rumbling bass stomps its foot as Joohoney’s register lowers. He talks of independence as an agreeable mumor concors his words, his voice unsteady with excitement. But before a listener can really get into the beat, it switches back to the melancholy ballad and Joohoney’s refined vocals return. What is impressive about ‘Freedom’ is its cohesiveness. With a track that has so many genre changes it is easy to get lost, yet ‘Freedom’s lyrics provide the narrative to keep it steady and draw attention.
Later tracks such as ‘Evolution’ tend to follow the same formula as ‘Freedom’, utilising abrupt genre changes to reiterate the lyrical narrative. Yet, with ‘Evolution’ Joohoney dips into an almost pop punk chorus, something we have yet to see from the decorated artist. ‘Monologue’ sees Joohoney collaborate with GSoul to create a jazz-infused track which sees the singer reminisce over the uncertain days he experienced as a trainee.
‘Lights’ feels unexpected from Joohoney. Within Monsta X he has always been conveyed as a dominating rapper, utilising his commanding voice to captivate his fans. However, now being able to write and produce an entire album it feels like Joohoney has hidden his musiciality, opting to showcase a greater range both in terms of vocals and genre. ‘Lights’, if anything, is an album that represents Joohoney as an artist and conveys a sense of intimacy and personality that has not been seen before.
Words: Abbie Aitken