Article. Kim Doheon (Music Critic)
Photo Credit. BIGHIT MUSIC
Excitement for RM’s album Indigo is heating up, not only because it’s his first solo release that isn’t a mixtape but also for the list of collaborating musicians that’s already been released. With so many featured musicians—from legends of the US music scene to indie performers in Korea—it’s difficult to speculate just what the album will sound like. In the lead-up to the December 2 release of Indigo, music critics Kim Doheon and Kang Ilkwon shed some light for us on the album’s collaborators in this two-part series. Check back tomorrow for the rest.
Kim Sawol (“Forg_tful (with Kim Sawol)”)
RM once recommended “Leica,” a track off long-time hip hop group Epik High’s 2021 album Epik High Is Here, in an Instagram story. Featured on that track was none other than Kim Sawol. Epik High, a group RM greatly admires, asked Kim Sawol to collaborate on the track, and with her words she captured a scene of a lonely and difficult life: “Do this and they hate, do that and they hate, never a peaceful day.” Kim Sawol started her singer-songwriter career in 2012 and tackles the banalities of everyday life with literary lyrics and sparse, bittersweet vocals. Indie fans and critics alike raved about her work as one half of Kim Sawol X Kim Haewon in 2014, after which she decided to go solo and took her time releasing three studio albums, two EPs and two live albums that told her stories of joy and solitude. She created the titular character Suzanne in her first solo studio album to embody the tangled web of emotions of a singer-songwriter in her 20s, sang of the good but not always happy parts of Romance in her so-named sophomore release and finally put out Heaven as a name for the feeling of longing that comes alongside a sense of powerlessness and hurt. There’s no way that RM—the same RM who collaborated with eAeon on the song “Don’t”—could have passed up her music. The title of their song together means “Forg_tful”—and you won’t soon forget it.
Colde (“Hectic (with Colde)”)
Singer-songwriter Colde started off as a duo with EOH called offonoff in 2015 but rose to prominence as a solo artist in 2018 with the release of “Your Dog Loves You.” Colde moves freely between rapping and singing and covers such diverse genres as hip hop, lofi pop, R&B and jazz, with vocals filled with puppy love, resolution and the cold, lonely air of night. In addition to his solo work, Colde still works with others by running the labels WAVY, Layered Island and PYRAT. He’s also on good terms with RM, who gifted Colde artwork by Heesoo Kim, an artist RM likes, when WAVY’s office first opened. Given that their song together is called “Hectic,” I wonder what it will sound like. We’ll have to wait and see if the song is like Colde’s energetic debut song, “Freedom,” or closer to “Paint Over,” a song he worked on for the legendary singer Choi Baek Ho’s upcoming album where Colde’s words hang one by one over the lofty strumming of guitar.
youjeen (“Wild Flower (with youjeen)”)
Cherry Filter vocalist youjeen took to the stage at the Incheon Pentaport Rock Festival for the first time this year. Twenty-five years have passed since the band was formed in 1997, but her truly inspiring rock vocals ripped through the humid air at supersonic speeds without a hint of rust despite the scorching August heat. It was when I saw how many in the audience were singing her songs in unison that I finally realized how influential she’s been. Anyone born in 1990s Korea will surely remember hits like “Sweet Little Kitty,” “Touch My Ruin Heart,” “Flying Duck,” “Moonlight Boy” and “Happy Day” coloring their schooldays. Cherry Filter’s youthful songs were full of hopes and dreams, romance and passion, remorse and sighs, and they kept us entertained as kids and continue to implore us to break out of our lives as boring adults. What an unparalleled honor it must be for RM to work with one of his childhood heroes. The title of their song together doesn’t refer to a colorful fireworks display but rather the wild flowers found as you walk through the park in fall.
parkjiyoon (“No.2 (with parkjiyoon)”)
I’m the same age as RM and I remember three different parkjiyoons. First, there’s parkjiyoon in her heyday—around the year 2000, when she released “Coming of Age Ceremony.” When she first started out, parkjiyoon had been modest in appearance and sang cheerful songs, but that all changed when she donned revealing clothing and released “Coming of Age Ceremony” under the guidance of producer JY Park, with lyrics like, “I’m not a girl anymore.” But parkjiyoon was only 18 at the time and too young to pull off such a sexy K-pop image, and the music she was ultimately aiming to make was nothing like that song. The second parkjiyoon I remember is the one who left JYP Entertainment to start her first real solo career with the release of “The First Flower Again” in 2009. As she belted out a new kind of song she had long held in her heart, she in turn touched the hearts of all the young people living in a challenging, lonely world. This version of herself has been with us up to her most recent studio album, parkjiyoon9. Finally, there’s the parkjiyoon who joined Mystic in 2013 and moved onto lighter material with such songs as “Beep,” “Mr. Lee” and “Yoo Hoo.” Now, 25 years since her debut, which parkjiyoon can we expect to hear from on “No. 2”? What’s clear is that this artist that both RM and I have long admired continues to be true to herself despite a career full of twists and turns.