Reviews

Agust D Tackles Fame and Inner Conflict on His D-2 Mixtape

Fame changes people. When hearing this, negative images come to mind. Fame makes people shallow, hungry for power and will lead individuals to reject the person they once were. On D-2, Agust D, aka Suga of K-pop group BTS, feels the opposite. If anything, fame has made him even more aware of who he was, where he is and where he is going.

Conflict is at the core of what D-2 is all about. What follows are the musings and fears of an artist who suddenly finds himself at the top, but at a heavy personal price. The wildly ranging moments of grandeur from songs like “Daechwita” to the moments of loneliness and despair throughout “28” and “Honsool” give us an intimate view of an artist who’s always in the spotlight, and yet, there’s so much unknown about him.

The release abides by the saying “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Similar to his first solo release, the record features varying influences from trap, hip-hop, rock and pop. This time around, however, the production feels like it’s playing a bigger part than just being a backing to Agust D’s flows. The best example of this is the lead single, “Daechwita.” This track deviates from the formula in that it not only samples a traditional Korean military song, but utilizes traditional Korean instrumentals. Even the music video follows this traditional theme. The booming chants that open the track serve as entry into Agust D’s world, but also as a warning to not underestimate him.

The release has its share of hype tracks in “Daechwita” and the mocking tone of “What Do You Think?” Then, there’s a complete 180 seen throughout the rest of the mixtape, where the rapper shows a more vulnerable side. Tracks like “28” and “Honsool” give us a closer look at the mysterious artist. “People” sounds like an inner monologue, revealing the loneliness he feels around others. Being different is more often praised as being a good thing, but “People” shows what happens when doubt begins to creep back in.

Not only does Agust find himself doubting his own path, but he also raises questions about society at large. “Strange,” featuring fellow BTS member RM, is a scathing criticism of capitalism in society, selling people dreams while making them slave away to even get a small taste of it. An interesting note about this critique is that Agust D never directly demands a call to action, which is often the case with any politically or socially driven song. Instead, he opts to put the idea out there for listeners to pick up and think about for themselves. It’s a move that shows the rapper’s hyper-awareness of his platform and the potential consequences of what he says.

“Burn It,” featuring MAX, marks the climax of the record and one of its strongest tracks. With a deep rumbling R&B beat, MAX takes the chorus with earnest. It plays out like a response to “28,” where Agust decides to destroy the person he doesn’t recognize, the person he once dreamed of becoming. The industrial, rock touches give the track more depth, piling more weight on the emotion of the track, before abruptly fading out, giving listeners a chance to breathe.

On the closing track, “Dear Friend,” featuring Kim Jong Wan of Nell, Agust D delivers a personal and heartbreaking story of an old friend who chose a darker path in life. The rapper is blatantly open about his conflicting feelings: he still cares about his friend, but on the other end, he hates the person he has become. As a pop ballad, the lyrics’ effects are heightened further, leaving more room for listeners to truly feel what is being said. It’s a sad note to end the mixtape on, but a fitting one. Life rarely turns out the way one expects, but it’s the conflict that helps people grow. D-2 is a highly personal self-exploration into the choices one makes in life, and how no matter what those choices were, there is always the opportunity to change.

Check out the music video for “Daechwita” below, and you can listen to D-2 on all major streaming platforms.

Featured Image: YouTube (Big Hit Labels)