Agust D Mixtape Review

Kpop idol Min Yoongi released his highly anticipated, self-produced, self-titled solo mixtape on August 15 under the name Agust D.  His mixtape is different from the music that he puts out with his band, BTS (방탄소년단,) and he examines mental health issues not usually discussed in idol culture. In an interview with Grazia magazine, Agust D explained his new stage name. Agust D backwards is “Dt Suga,” with Suga being the name he goes by with BTS, and Dt standing for his hometown Daegu Town, South Korea.”

Though the mixtape was anticipated by fans, the release was somewhat of a surprise.  It was expected to drop in August, but because no date was given fans were kept on edge waiting for it. Plus, no one really knew what to expect.  It was probable that he would use the name Agust D, as he revealed in BTS’ ‘Cypher pt. 3: Killer,’ but there was no way to know for sure.

The unknown nature of the mixtape made the tracks more exciting, especially the title track ‘Agust D.’ This song was the very first thing that fans heard, and saw, when the mixtape dropped.   With the intro to the tape and this song including a sample from James Brown’s ‘It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World,’ it was obvious that Agust D’s music was not going to be like his band’s. The song talks about how successful he has been because of his hard work, despite people always trying to put him down. He spells out his name in a somewhat humorous fashion, “A to the G to the U to the S-T-D.” It is easy to find the quick repetition of STD amusing, but the chorus is catchy because of it nonetheless.

At the same time that the mixtape dropped, the music video for ‘Agust D,’ hit YouTube.  In just one week, the music video had over 5 million views.  The video flashes between shots of Agust D struggling inside of what looks like a cabin and shots with things in chaos and on fire. The video shows Agust D smashing things accompanied by him apologizing for being better than other rappers.  

The second video that was released also had no notice before it dropped.  The video for the track ‘Give it to Me,’ shows what looks like the aftermath of what happened in ‘Agust D,’ with Agust D climbing on cars that are on fire. The song tells a story about how he became successful.  He brought up older people who benefitted by downplaying BTS.  He warns against getting into any fights with other people, and how staying quiet and being diligent brought him to where he is.

The song ‘치리사일사팔 (724148),’ goes into detail of Min Yoongi’s struggles on his way to becoming an idol.  He talks of having to take up odd jobs in the early hours because the allowance he was given as a trainee.  By the time he graduated at the age of 20, he was jealous of the other students who came from wealthy families and didn’t know what it was like to struggle for money. Now, the people in school that doubted him at that time can look at where he is now and be envious.

On the mixtape, Agust D opened up on a few tracks about things that not many idols talk about, including his depression.  In ‘The Last (마지막),’ he reveals that he started to hate himself around the time BTS debuted. The lyric in the song that hits the hardest is “Min Yoongi is already dead, I killed him.” His family and his friends were shocked and confused that they felt that they didn’t know him anymore.  The song goes on to explain that he puts up a front of “I don’t give a shit; I don’t give a fuck,” but in all actuality, being an idol and the hardships he faced while getting to this point have taken a huge toll on his mental well-being.  Towards the end of the song, Agust D admits that even though he feels like a monster, he would continue the idol life because of the people who listen to the music.

The sixth track on the mixtape, ‘140503 새벽에 (140503 at Dawn),’ introduces the ideas about depression and social phobia that were presented in ‘The Last.’ Agust D shows that at 19, it looked like his life as a trainee and then an idol were great, but his mental problems prevent him from enjoying what was happening to him. The short track begins with what sounds like moaning from Agust D’s stretching in the morning, which is followed by the clicking of a computer keyboard.  The track seems not at clean as the rest of them, probably because it was meant to sound like a rough take.

In the movie Scarface, Tony Montana does whatever he can, like murdering anyone in his way to get more power and more money. In Agust D’s song ‘Tony Montana ft. Yankie,’ the lyrics describe not wanting to become a money-hungry monster like Tony Montana. I want the money to chase me but I hope I don’t become the monster chasing only money.”  Though the content of the song is in line with the rest of the mixtape, the repetitive auto tuned chorus breaks apart the dark theme that developed.

There are a few tracks that aren’t full songs like an interlude and a small skit. Like BTS’ mini-albums, Agust D included a skit track just speaking.  The fourth track on the album is just over a minute of Agust D thanking his brother for believing in him. The interlude is is called ‘Dream, Reality,’ and is a mellow, mostly piano track that sets the softer tone for the final song on the album.

The slower beat on ‘So Far Away,’ was a smooth and gratifying way to end the mixtape.  The beautiful chorus by Suran is memorable and soothing, but it doesn’t feel out of place on the album. Most of the lyrics are recognizing some of the struggles of depression like the rest of the mixtape, but the chorus is more uplifting than the other songs, mentioning “fully blooming” and humble beginnings.

Over a month has passed since the mixtape dropped, and the video for ‘So Far Away,’ that was supposed to come out still hasn’t been seen.  This might be due to BTS releasing their series of seven videos in the cryptic “WINGS” series.

Agust D’s mixtape was a surprise to the world and isn’t just for kpop fans.  With influences from modern hip-hop and non-genre-specific classics, “Agust D,” has a mix of slower, softer songs and fast-paced, dark raps.  Not only is Min Yoongi’s talent very clearly expressed in every second of this mixtape, but another side of the kpop industry is highlighted making the mixtape relevant in more ways than one.

 

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