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An Analysis: BTS’ Suga Makes His Return as Agust D with New Mixtape, ‘D-2’

BTS member Suga also known as Yoongi, has returned to the music scene as Agust D with his second mixtape titled, ‘D-2.’ This mixtape comes almost four years after the release of his self-titled solo mixtape, ‘Agust D.’ The new mixtape features ten songs, including collaborations with musicians like Kim Jong Wan of the group NELL, NiiHWA, American artist MAX and group member RM.

 

Fans have anticipated Yoongi’s return as Agust D for some time but didn’t think it would come so soon after it was mentioned in a live stream that music would not be released anytime soon. With cryptic countdown teasers posted on social media, fans were left speculating whether it was a mixtape from BTS’ main vocal, Jungkook, an Agust D mixtape, or a mixtape from all seven of the members. As the days went by and the countdown got closer to the D-day, the BTS ARMY already had an idea that this countdown was related to Agust D especially after the profile photo for Agust D’s artist page was updated to a never before seen photo that was somewhat similar to the silhouette seen in the countdown images. Twenty-four hours later and Yoongi surprise-dropped the mixtape fans have been anticipating for years and it was worth the wait. Notable achievements include ‘D-2’ reaching 82 # 1’s on iTunes and Suga is now the first Korean solo act to reach #1 on Worldwide Apple Music Album Chart.

Image via BigHit Entertainment

Suga shares that this mixtape is a documentation of himself as a 28-year-old, a collection of emotions, ideas and sounds he’s absorbed from the past four years.

Moonlight 

The first track is of ‘D-2‘ is “Moonlight.” The lyrics explore an ongoing battle with himself and the change he’s gone through since he started his music career. The track begins with vinyl scratches, which sound old school, given that Suga is reflecting and taking us on a journey, the old school vinyl scratches fit very well. Additionally, after the vinyl scratches, we hear Suga say, “Yeah, yeah/ Okay, okay, okay, okay/ Yeah/ Three years have passed/ Agust D/ Honestly, I don’t know how many songs to put in,/ Fuck, I’m just doing itand whether or not it was the audio before he started the track or not, keeping this in for the first track of the mixtape couldn’t have worked any better.

The lyrics are very insightful and reflective for the listeners as we get a glimpse into Suga’s brain and his feelings towards an array of things. BTS have become global superstars and some even see them as the “celebrities of celebrities.” Suga reminds us that he started this path simply because he liked music, but with the position they’re in now and the way people talk about him and the group can be a lot at times. “Being called immortal is fucking overwhelming, I started just because I liked music, but the adjectives they attach to my name feel too much sometimes.” This track is a strong start to the mixtape and let’s not forget that we see Suga turn into a vocalist in this song, which isn’t common, but whenever it happens, fans love it.

Daechwita 

The word ‘Daechwita’ refers to a genre of Korean traditional music that generally consists of military music played by the wind and percussion instruments. It’s typically performed while marching. The track also contains a sample from “Daechwita” by National Gugak Center. “Daechwita,” is a cross-cultural mosh pit of traditional Korean music and trap highlighted by the nimble rhymes and explosive chants.

The music video is set in the Joseon Dynasty of South Korea and Suga utilizes elements of this era in his lyrics, such as lyrics referring to the story of the Crown Prince Sado and Gwanghae-gun who was the fifteenth king of the Joseon dynasty.

The track essentially tells the listeners how Suga went from rags to riches and how they should play “Daechwita” wherever he goes so all those who hate on him know that he’s king. Those who continue to spout hate will be executed, as seen in the music video.Everyone knows my name, These bastards who are all talk, Cut his head off immediately, Daechwita, Daechwita, hey, play it loud, Daechwita… The track itself is super raw in its lyrics. We see that theme of growth in this track that’s evident throughout the mixtape, “Born a slave but now a king/Born in a ditch but rise up a dragon,” which one can assume is about his struggle in the underground rapping industry to where he is now as a global musician. “To contain me, this country is still small,” I see this as Suga explaining how he’s is like a tiger and is trying to break free from the mold and traditional stereotypes and expectations that are placed upon him as a Korean. 

There’s a lot of complexities and underlying messages in this track and the music video tells a story as well. Safe to say that no matter how many times you listen and read the lyrics, you’ll find something new with this expressive track.

What do you think?

Fans may recognize this track as the ‘Burn The Stage’ song as Yoongi played a snippet of the instrumental of this track when he was working on it. This track is a clap-back to the haters and antis, “What do you think about No.1 on the Billboard chart, Next, a Grammy, what do you think, Whatever you think, I’m sorry, but I don’t fucking care at all,” and that’s probably the worse thing a hater or anti of BTS wants to hear. Whatever they think that relates to the members doesn’t affect them because they don’t care. Suga also raps, “The ten zeros in my bank account, it’s the money I loaned with my youth as collateral” which is a bittersweet lyric as although he’s successful it was at the cost of his youth which he mentions in his first mixtape in the track, ‘The Last.’

Strange feat. RM 

This track features fellow member and leader of BTS, RM. The track opens with a soft, beautiful piano melody before transitioning into Suga’s auto-tune raspy-like voice. The dichotomy of the deep bass in conjunction with the delicate backing sounds and the hard-hitting but fragile lyrics they’re rapping work well with the beat. You can also hear a string instrument being plucked in the background. Despite all the different elements present in the track, the poeticness of this track is out of this world. We see parallels in verses from RM and Suga; they show different attitudes and perspectives towards the same problem. It’s almost like they’re having a conversation. This is also a track that speaks on some complexities, but this ARMY explained things so well.

28 feat. NiiHWA

Suga is 28-years-old in Korean age and the direct translation of the Korean title is, “Perhaps, I’m gradually becoming an adult.” It’s the shortest track of the mixtape, but it’s so reflective that, regardless of age, you can resonate with the meaning as we all get older in life.

The audio crackle at this start of this track, the harmonization with K-Pop artist, NiiHWA and finger snaps are simply everything. I didn’t want this track to end, but nothing lasts forever. In life, we grow up, become adults and carry on with our lives. Whether intentional or not, the shortness of the track makes me think about how fast each year of our lives go by and how we’re onto the next. “Perhaps, I’m gradually becoming an adult I can’t remember, What are the things that I hoped for. Now I’m scared, Where did the fragments of my dream go.”

Despite the hip-hop/R&B vibe of the track, it’s more slowed down compared to the other tracks leaving the listeners to reflect on their lives.

Burn It feat. MAX

Image via MAX MUSIC

“Burn It” features American singer-songwriter MAX who’s been teasing new music for some time now. Fans were expecting a collaboration with Suga, but when I saw this track on the mixtape, I was surprised. I knew a track from the two artists was coming sooner or later, but I didn’t think it’d be on the mixtape. If fans think back to Bring the Soul: The Movie, we actually hear a snippet of this track in the background as Suga speaks about the mixtape.

The beginning of the track threw me off at first as it had drill-like elements, but then MAX comes in with his soothing but sultry voice and with Suga’s heavy raspy rapping in this track, it leaves the track with a haunting feeling. The instrumentation of this song is out of this world and the insane bass and electric guitar accompaniment add a different type of depth to this track.

The lyrics, “to the life that was possessed by jealousy, loathing, inferiority, hans” refer to the cultural concept of 한 (Han). We see it as a recurring concept shown in BTS’ discography and we see this concept appear in Suga’s first mixtape in the track, ‘The Last.’ Han can be seen as sorrow and the hope to overcome it, and it is injustice and the obsession to avenge it. It’s a concept that is embedded in Korean culture.

People 

The melody of the track flowing into Suga’s rap left me with a good feeling. The backing vocals of record producer and singer-songwriter, Adora, with Suga’s rap and vocals blend so well together. The lyrics of the track leave the listener feeling comforted and hopeful. However, blunt in the meaning, “People change — like I have, Living a life in the world, there’s nothing that lasts forever, Everything is just a happening that passes by.” ‘People’ is a track about reflection, acceptance and progression. Listeners of any age or walk in life can resonate with the track as we all go through changes in our lives.

In the most recent episode of the BTS docu-series, ‘Break The Silence,’ Suga shares, “What’s ordinary to others is special to me; whereas what’s special to others is ordinary to me,” and this exact idea is mentioned in the lyrics of this track.

Honsool 

혼술 (Honsool) means drinking alone, which emerged in Korea to represent the growth of individualism in a collectivist culture. The idea of honsool is to drink alone without being conscious of the gaze of others and through honsool, you’re able to recharge and relax.

The distortion at the start of the track can be viewed as the alcohol taking effect on himself. The echoey synths in the track bring the listener back to the idea of ‘being alone.’ When one is all by themself, in this case, there’s bound to be echoes as it’s just you and your thoughts present. The instrumentation on the track is set up in a way where instead of focusing so much on the sound of the track, you bask yourself in the lyrics.

The track leaves me with bittersweet feelings and reminds me of a day filled with gloomy weather while drinking alone caught up in my thoughts.

Fun fact: Suga wrote the beat for this track in 2017 while on tour and it was titled, “Chile, I’m hungry.’

Interlude: Set Me Free

Interludes also seem to be some of my favourite tracks and this track doesn’t disappoint. Although short in length, everything I needed to hear and understand was present. The track has a melancholy but also calming vibe, filled with heavy and raw emotions, although not much is said, the listeners still get a lot of meaning. Listening to the track leaves me feeling emotional as although we hear the sound of birds chirping and hear Suga constantly say, “Set me free,” it feels like a heavy acceptance because of what’s to come after, “Set me free, knowing that it won’t go the way I want, Set me free, knowing that it’s not what I want.” Freedom and being released usually have positive connotations, but in this track, although I don’t see negative connotations, it seems to be one of neutral-contentment. The track leaves the listener feeling at peace despite not having the feeling of true and utter contentment.

Dear my friend feat. Kim Jong Wan of NELL

“Dear my friend” is the last track of ‘D-2‘ and it features Kim Jong Wan of the band, NELL.

The direct translation of the Korean title is “What would it have been like.” “Dear my friend” is deeply personal as the track serves as a letter to a former friend who went to jail and Suga looks back on what it would’ve been like if the two remained friends. The lyrics of the track make it seem like a final farewell letter to his former friend. It’s bittersweet as it’s a song of grief but also forgiveness and coming to terms with happened in the past.

In life, we lose friendships and at times, you may feel like if you did something differently, maybe things wouldn’t have turned out that way. However, this track speaks truth to the fact that no matter how hard or many times you try, sometimes it isn’t meant to be. A lot of love, hate and longing for that person probably occurred and although it hurts, it’s how it had to turn out.

The track ending with the lyrics, “What would it have been like,” suggests that although Suga has come to terms with what happened at the end of the day, he’ll always be left to mourn the loss of his friendship.

Be sure to check out ‘D-2‘ if you haven’t already and let us know your thoughts on the mixtape after reading the analysis!

All lyric translations are from Doolset Bangtan.

Featured Image via BigHit Entertainment

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Zoë Selesi
Written By

Zoë is from England, currently living in New York for university studying Magazine Journalism. She is the senior editor for the Arts &Culture site. Zoë is a lover of all music genres, especially alternative R&B, UK Grime and Korean music.

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Diana

    May 24, 2020 at 10:48 pm

    Omg This Is amazing!! Thank u!!

  2. Avatar

    Gloria

    May 24, 2020 at 5:10 pm

    Thanks for this thoughtful review! It was very thorough and I learned something new about the music-making process.

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