This blog post is quite late to the hype train for BTS’s new comeback album, Map of the Soul, and the trailer released on 27/3/2019, Persona, featuring RM. I will not be talking about theories, or any of the hints that have been dropped for the last 2 years hinting to this album – those are simply not my realms of discussion. Instead, I will be talking about the introduction song itself, and how it measures up to previous introductions. Do keep in mind that I have a natural bias to the vocal line because I, myself, am part of a choir. I also do love the rap line, but it’s easier for me to like the vocal line when I can sing along with them.
Lyrics Breakdown (English translated):
“Who am I?” – the question I had my whole life
The question which I probably won’t find an answer to my whole life
If I were answerable in a few mere words,
Then God wouldn’t have created all those various beauties.
How you feel? How’re you feeling right now?
Actually I’m real good but a little uncomfortable.
I’m still not so sure if I’m a dog or a pig or what else,
But then other people come and put the pearl necklace on me.
I laugh more than I did before.
I dreamt of becoming a superhero.
Now it feels like I really became one,
But as it goes on there’s so much blabbering.
One says “run” another says “stop”.
This one says “look at the forest” that one says “look at the wild flower”.
My shadow, I wrote and called it “hesitation”.
It has never hesitated after becoming that.
It kept appearing under the stage or the light.
Keeps glaring at me scorchingly like a heat wave (oh shit).
Hey, have you already forgotten why you even started this?
You were just digging it that someone was listening.
Sometimes, everything sounds like freakin’ nonsense.
You know what comes out of you when you’re drunk…like immaturity.
Someone like me ain’t good enough for music.
Someone like me ain’t good enough for the truth.
Someone like me ain’t good enough to be a muse.
The flaws of mine that I know
Maybe that’s all I’ve really got.
The world is actually not interested in my clumsiness at all.
The regrets that I don’t even get sick of anymore,
I tumble with them every night until I’m disgusted
And twist the irreversible time habitually.
There’s something that raised me up again every time.
The first question,
The three syllables of my name and the word “but” that should come before any of those.
So I’m askin’ once again yeah
Who the hell am I?
Tell me all your names, baby.
Do you wanna die?
Oh, do you wanna go?
Do you wanna fly?
Where’s your soul? Where’s your dream?
Do you think you’re alive?
Yeah, my name is RM.
The “me” that I remember and the people know.
The “me” I created myself to vent out.
Yeah, maybe I have been deceiving myself,
Maybe I’ve been lying,
But I’m not embarrassed anymore this is the map of my soul.
You must never lose your temperature,
Cuz you don’t need to be neither warm nor cold.
Though I might sometimes be hypocritical,
Or pretend to be evil,
This is the barometer of my direction I want to keep.
The “me” that I want myself to be,
The “me” that people want me to be,
The “me” that you love,
And the “me” that I create.
The “me” that’s smiling,
The “me” that’s sometimes in tears,
Vividly breathing each second and every moment even now.
Who the hell am I?
I just wanna go.
I just wanna fly.
I just wanna give you all the voices till I die.
I just wanna give you all the shoulders when you cry.
I honestly think that this album is going to be my next favourite. While many fans believed that Love Yourself: Answer was the end of the storyline, I would interpret this new album, at least by its name, as the continuation. Love Yourself: Answer‘s conclusion is exactly what the name implies – the answer to all of the personal crises, trials and obstacles in the Love Yourself series (and, as BTS is trying to say, in real life) is to love yourself before everything else. And as the chorus of Answer: Love Myself goes: “You’ve shown me I have reasons. I should love myself.” As cliched as that kind of conclusion might be, one must remember this – the you both refers to ARMYs (BTS fans), as well as the characters in each BTS member’s arc in Love Yourself, and this includes people who have hurt them. It’s a profound message, in that sense, that even the people who come into your life, and end up hurting you can still ultimately bring across that message of “Love Yourself”.
So, what then? What happens after one learns to love themselves? That’s right. Soul-searching. And that’s why I think this new album, titled Map of the Soul, might be the naturally successor to the Love Yourself series, as the kind-of next step forward.
And the lyrics of Persona reflects this – RM has clearly reached a level of self-love and confidence, reflected as a genuine acceptance of himself, including his flaws, e.g. “Yeah, maybe I have been deceiving myself/ Maybe I’ve been lying/ But I’m not embarrassed anymore this is the map of my soul.”
The Personal Part (WARNING)
It’s crazy how in-tune BTS seems to be with my life developments, actually. Personally, the latter half of 2018 and the start of 2019 (which happens to be when Love Yourself: Answer began to exist) was a period of intense heartbreak, pain, acceptance and moving on. I experienced what it was like to have my fierce brand of trust shattered. I learned to shed my naivety when required to protect myself – sometimes, you cannot offer to rebuild trust and be the bigger person, because sometimes, some people just don’t deserve it anymore. This second point is important because I tend to be the type to let anything and everything go (even the worst kind of violation against my person) based on “good intentions” or at least “not-bad intentions”. I was almost going to dive head-long back into a friendship in which I literally felt like the gift of friendship I gave was turned into a knife that was eventually stabbed into my gut, though not intentionally. And then a close friend said this – “The path to hell was laden with good intentions.” For once, I listened, and I stepped back. Yes, the intentions were not bad, but the actions that came from it were irreversibly damaging, and efforts must be made for reparations. And if not such effort comes, I must learn to turn and walk away. And so, I did.
Like how RM isn’t really proud of him deceiving himself, but isn’t embarrassed by it at the same time, I am shockingly in the same position. It’s wild how relatable BTS can be sometimes.
I deceived myself as well, in order to move on. I made a replica, in my mind, of the person who betrayed my trust, and separated him into a “before” and “after”. “Before” was the person I went through thick-and-thin with, the person that was incredibly flawed, but was so colourful that, after he left, his presence seemed to have made me seen colour in the world. He did hurt me and I hurt him, but it was never deep enough to leave a scar. I trusted him with all of me, and as much as a person can trust another, and in return, I knew that I meant a lot to him, even if my feelings were not returned. And in my mind, this “before” version of him does not exist on this world anymore. I’d like to think that he just went to another country and lost all contact, but of course, I know deep down that I had to isolate these two versions in order to preserve the happy memories and prevent them from being tainted.
The “after” version is also not guilty of the pain. After all, by isolating the “before” and “after” as two completely unrelated individuals, I am able to forget the transition between. This “after” version, I don’t know him very well, but he is…dull. The world that was given colour seems so saturated in comparison, unlike the “before”, who was far more saturated than the world around him. It’s not a bad thing – to be just like everyone else – but it helps prevent any drawing closer of relations, including friendship. After all, my friends all appear in different colours to me, all of them vivid in their own ways. Everytime I make a new friend, they transition from a dull, grayed-out figure into a glowing existence – coming alive on my radar per se.
So, just like RM, I am deceiving myself and I’m not proud of it, but because it was necessary for me to heal and move forward, I am not embarrassed about it either. And just like RM, what I did might hurt another person, but rather than doing so out of revenge or intentionally, it is simply an act of the unavoidable – an act to love myself. I guess it’s karma, in a sense, since the hurt that was inflicted on me was unintentional as well.
The result? I felt like I was flying, like I was free of the choking, suffocating situation, because I also became able to let go of the grief and the grudge. I learned to forgive – I don’t hate either “before” or “after” – but I will not forget – “after” will stay comfortably as just someone I know unless some real efforts are made. It’s liberating.
And just like how the album after Love Yourself: Answer was Map of the Soul, I find myself being able to find my true self better this semester. The independent yet dependable soul I am, exhibiting the extreme qualities of each of those characteristics. I am able to wear both these characteristics without being hypocritical of either (many who claim to be independent are actually just lonely and looking for the right person they can cling to). I find myself staring at the “me” that I am, the “me” that people expect me to be, and finally seeing the difference.
Just like how RM answers the questions in the first verse in the second, I am also getting closer to answer those same questions – “Who the hell am I? Do you wanna die? Oh, do you wanna go? Do you wanna fly? Where’s your soul? Where’s your dream? Do you think you’re alive?” Who I am is a changing concept and I will always be changing. I don’t want to die, not yet, I have much to do. I definitely want to fly, free, and have no one restrain me. My soul is with me, and I won’t give it to anyone who doesn’t deserve it again. My dream is to improve the lives of others, and I love making people happy, but not at the expense of myself. And finally, I finally feel alive again.