The album cover of RM’s Indigo includes artwork by Korean artist Yun Hyong-keun, a painter known for meditative, contemplative pieces characterized by splashes of umber and ultramarine. While the contemporary paintings are relatively minimalist, they’re technically complex, and all the more layered considering the artist was a bold, persistent figure who survived one of the most turbulent and traumatic periods in South Korea’s history. The streaming press preview of Indigo included extensive notes on the record; it’s there that Yun Hyong-keun is noted as RM’s favorite painter.
RM, who was born Kim Namjoon, is the leader of BTS, the biggest pop group on the planet. He’s also a vocal supporter and passionate collector of contemporary art, particularly interested in elevating work by South Korean artists like Yun. He’s the kind of writer who seems like they have to create or they might burst — with over 200 songs under his belt for BTS, other artists, and solo efforts, he’s the youngest and second-most credited name in the Korean Music Copyright Association.
Indigo, which arrives on Friday, December 2nd, is RM’s first full-length solo effort. His two previously-released mixtapes feel like time stamps from different eras of his story so far and speak to his role within BTS, a group that was formed around his love and unabashed affection for hip-hop over a decade ago. RM, released in 2015 (just two years after BTS had debuted) is a portrait of an impassioned young man brimming with frustration and intensity. mono., a 2018 solo mixtape that he prefers to call a playlist, is the other end of the spectrum — the poetic, melancholic collection is a wistful capsule of young adulthood.
Now, Indigo is something else entirely. BTS’s second chapter is officially in full swing — following fellow rapper j-hope’s dark, experimental Jack in the Box and Jin’s dreamy “The Astronaut,” RM is the next member to share original solo material. While each member of BTS has otherworldly pressure on their shoulders, there’s often a different kind of weight reserved for RM as the leader of a group that has both spoken at the UN and broken countless chart records.
When this time to explore individual endeavors alongside group activities was announced, it was clear that the members were ready for a reset of sorts; Indigo, which RM describes as “a sun-bleached record faded like old jeans,” feels like a gift to his own creative spirit as much as it does a gift to the listeners.
Give Indigo a spin below, and let’s dive in.