RM Right Place, Wrong Person Album Review: BTS Leader Defies Expectations


South Korean rapper and songwriter RM (leader of K-pop group BTS) has spent a long time contemplating dualities. His first mixtape RM (2015) depicted him with a face divided as he questioned life and death, light and dark, true and false. His subsequent release mono. (2018) was a gray haven from these pressures, built in the period his group was hurtled into international stardom.

RM’s first official album Indigo (2022) was released after BTS closed Chapter 1 and announced their group hiatus. Sun-bleached and blue, it provided a twist through the influence of artist Yun Hyong-Keun. A prominent abstract monochromist of the previous century, Yun’s seemingly black brushstrokes had in fact been layers upon layers of burnt umber and ultramarine blue. Perhaps RM would explore the myriad of his base layers? Perhaps Kim Namjoon’s natural permutations could blend together and be incorporated back into his public presentation of RM?

Indigo was a sleek powerhouse, but it didn’t satisfy such questions. The first track “Yun” promised a madness we didn’t get. “Still Life” was stylistically triumphant, but the lyrics said otherwise: “My life on constant display / It’s still life, still, life / The past’s gone, the future’s unknown / Catching my breath on a crossroads / Wanna be free of this canvas frame.” Even the exultant lead single “Wild Flower” was a desperate plea. As RM’s bandmate Jimin noted, the inner self was still buried deep.

Various RM album and mixtape covers

Various RM album and mixtape coversBIGHIT MUSIC

It took Right Place, Wrong Person (2024) to unearth that self and “throw up” the workings of his mind. And it sure is a hell of a ride, leaving no chance for regret about a road untaken. RM in his 20s had always left blank space for possibility. But RM at the cusp of 30 has filled up both the visuals and music with a discordant energy in an ever-changing flow of genres and rhythms across a tight 35 minute, 11 track album.

As he declares at the end of Track 1, “Right People, Wrong Place,” his musings on this topic have him “feelin’ high on a forest fire.” We’re to crash headlong into a rollercoaster of soundscapes precisely crafted in order to feel unplanned and unpredictable – and as it becomes increasingly clear, he’s darkly reveling in not conforming to expectations.

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Tags: bts, rm

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