The Talent of Suga's "Shadow"
Get ready for the next BTS comeback!
It’s time. How long has it been? It feels like forever since BTS has come out with new music. I’ve been itching to hear the latest from them, and suddenly, here they are, once again!
BTS has been away for a while, and now they’ve just announced in the past few days that their next album, Map of the Soul: 7, will be released in about a month. Pre-orders started almost immediately, and, of course, we have our first song.
Suga stars in the latest intro, or interlude, as this one is labeled, for their album. Titled “Shadow”, Suga raps a song that clearly means a lot, and shows just how important this album is. To fully appreciate “Shadow”, you do need to have some background on BTS, and how they’ve come from nothing to being the biggest superstars in the world. Additionally, there’s the sad fact that the group will soon be in hiatus once more, in that the oldest, Kim Seokjin, will be getting ready to serve his mandatory military service as is required in South Korea. All groups have to deal with these staggered break-ups, from Exo, to SHINee, etc. BTS is reaching that point too, but not to worry. We’ll still have great music, and even individually, or in sub-units. However, this album is called 7, and so you know the boys will always be together no matter what they do.
That is the background for this album, and starting with Suga’s perspective is incredibly fitting. He was the second member to join after RM, and he’s incredibly responsible for a lot of the producing and writing for the group. He also has been the member who is most open about the struggles in his life, from mental illness to struggling to make it as a rap artist. He’s been through a lot in his life, and “Shadow”, both in lyrics and in the music video, displays a lot of his anxieties.
The opening lines about all the things he wants to be, a rap star, a king, etc. are nice to hear. Suga rapping confidently about all the big things he wants in life is everything I’ve ever wanted. He’s totally in his element in the video, rapping toward the camera without breaking eye contact. It definitely shows the growth he’s had over the years. Of course he acknowledges that he’s on top of the world right now. There are obvious cameras and phones in his face all throughout the video, and he’s literally above a giant crowd for a good chunk of it as well.
What makes this song so very BTS is the double-edge to their lyrics. While Suga raps about flying high as a superstar, he also talks about the potential consequences and risks of being so big. There’s the fear of falling, of letting others and himself down, etc. This song continues to show the self-awareness BTS has when it comes to their fame. They know how popular they are and constantly remind themselves not to let it all go to their head. Probably my favorite shot in the video is towards the beginning when a crowd of people dressed in black, almost looking like robbers, launch themselves at Suga. It shows the dark side of fame, and how it can feel to be so sought after. They all put their hands on his shoulders, and he does this little sigh that tells you all you need to know about what he's trying to say; yes, he's happy to be ale to do what he loves, but sometimes that amount of pressure can be a lot of weight to bear. It's a subtle thing, and he plays it out very well.
Suga’s lyrics speak to the fear we’ve seen in his music before. There’s clear apprehension in how big BTS has gotten in his eyes, and he’s scared of the shadow he casts, and in the shadow consuming him. I love the chorus, because it talks about that confusion in such simple terms. He’s begging, “Don’t let me down. Don’t let me fly.” It’s like he’s in a middle ground where he doesn’t know what’s the right direction. It’s super honest, and it’s actually refreshing to see a major group examine this kind of fear about fame.
The outro to the song is a great ending, with Suga joining the crowd in the video and looking up at himself. The beat changes pretty drastically, and it becomes a repetition of Suga saying, “You do you,” and encouraging himself to keep going no matter what. I love this part, because it’s more of a traditional rap beat, showing that rap is the arena Suga is most comfortable in. From his lyrics to his speed, Suga is a master of rap. I love the intensity of his voice, and you can tell that rapping is what gives him the confidence and drive to deal with the fame. “Shadow” is a very Suga song, and it makes me excited to see what BTS brings us with their new album. If it’s anything like this song, it’ll be catchy, meaningful, and a wild ride from start to finish.