*FEATURE* Honouring Kim Namjoon: Leader And Artist On His Birthday

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"I was born in Ilsan, a city near Seoul, South Korea. It’s a beautiful place, with a lake, hills, and even an annual flower festival. I spent a happy childhood there, and I was just an ordinary boy." - Kim Namjoon

Kim Namjoon is the leader of the hottest boy group in the world, BTS. He is credited for his artistry under the stage name, RM. Before his discovery, Namjoon was a teenager working tirelessly to make his own and performing in the underground rap scene. The formation of BTS begins with Kim Namjoon when the founder of BigHit Entertainment, Bang Si Hyuk, became impressed with Namjoon’s wisdom and creativity. Bang Si Hyuk, also known as Bang PD, recognized the young man's wisdom and intelligence. His natural talent to produce, write lyrics and rap all on his own led to the idea of forming a hip hop group. Kim Namjoon continues to produce and write lyrics for BTS alongside the other members to form albums that encase their personal experiences.

In 2013 the BTS members debuted with rappers Kim Namjoon (RM), Min Yoongi (Suga), Jung Hoseok (J-HOPE), and vocalists Park Jimin (Jimin), Kim Taehyung (V), Kim Seokjin (Jin), and Jeon Jungkook (Jungkook). Unfortunately, Namjoon and Yoongi were heavily criticized after leaving the underground rap scene to join an "Idol" group. In contrast, fans of idol groups also judged Namjoon for not fitting standard idol looks. His identity was questioned: was he an idol or a rapper? This question would follow the group for years. BTS and BigHit were also belittled for coming from a small company and contrasting with what an "idol" was thought to be. During this time, Namjoon struggled with a lot of doubt and anxiety within himself. Now, pressures of being a leader for BTS combined with negative comments further aggravated his stress and worries. These troubles led to the creation of Namjoon’s first Mixtape, "RM," where he not only proves his skills as a rapper but spoke bluntly about his anxieties and backlash from the industry and rap community. The mixtape has a dark theme with a strong sense of self-vindication as it was made in the midst of the tougher times in the member's life. The mixtape serves as a reminder of where Namjoon was and how he’s grown as a person and artist.

Namjoon explains his title track to Journalist Kim Eunkyung in an interview for Good Morning Pops: "There’s a song called "Do you" in my mixtape and it means "Be yourself". But honestly, I don’t live my life 100% like myself. So I tried to express the message. I wanted to tell myself through this song "You are who you are. There are people who dislike you but there are people who tell you that their lives had changed because of your music Why do you lock yourself up with hurtful remarks? You need to just be yourself and live your life.” (Translated by PEACHISODA https://t.co/e2EDt76LNp)

Through expressing his emotions and becoming more in touch with himself, Kim Namjoon has grown into a true leader for not only BTS but for millions of fans around the world. This character development is visible as BTS' discography and message expand. For their latest release, Map Of the Soul: Persona, Namjoon said that he’d been a “lyrics bot” and wrote more lyrics than he ever had. “I wrote 80 to 90 per cent of the lyrics, excluding Suga and J-Hope’s rap parts,” he explained. "In this age when the melody and the vibe of a song are important, I’m someone who originally wanted to be a poet and writer, so I wanted to focus on the auditory texture and the beauty of language through the lyrics." You can read more about this at Soompi: https://www.soompi.com/article/1319659wpp/btss-rm-reveals-stories-behind-their-chart-topping-mini-album-map-of-the-soul-persona)

For the Love Yourself trilogy, the members focused on self-love. Now, Map of the Soul strives to accept the deeper parts of ourselves. In fact, we can see the transition taking place during Love Yourself: Tear release as Namjoon mediates the album’s meaning in a log: "So with sadness, it certainly does not only contain bad things but, for many things like music, it becomes an inspiration and a new type of motivation, so I gladly welcomed it. I really welcomed it." Being able to openly talk about sadness and your past internal conflicts is a sign of healing. Because, at one point, those topics were too painful to say but Namjoon continues to become more open about where he was, his current standing within himself, and where he wants to be. While recording the video for fans, he also spoke directly to himself saying "you are doing well and you will do well, let’s not doubt that -- I will no longer have doubts about myself." (Translation by CafeArmy https://cafearmy.wordpress.com/2019/03/31/20180511-rms-log-english-translation/)

Namjoon has become someone that thinks deeply about the aspects of his life by taking each moment to reflect and understand himself. His second mixtape, Mono, is a cathartic, personal description of his ponderings and wisdom. Each song feels like a philosophy where he studies his inner self and thoughts. Where his first mixtape was filled with anger and justification, Mono is a calming state of growth. A true representation of healing where he can let go of past inequities.

Take the time to listen to his mixtape, MONO, by clicking the Spotify link below:

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