BTS is back with their albums Map of the Soul: Persona which they call a “give back” to their ARMY. The septet is continuing into a new era after wrapping up the Love Yourself series in which they thought us the different aspects in which love can change us until the final message to Love Yourself. In his speech at the UN, RM encouraged everyone to “Speak Yourself” and little did the world know that this too would be the theme of their nearest venture where they learn the aspects of our Persona.
On the Grammy’s red carpet RM stated that Map of the World: Persona would be dedicated to the fans as a way of giving back. The fans have given them the wings to achieve their dreams by showing their support at every turn and BTS is paying it back in the best way they can: with Music.
The album kicks off with “Persona: Intro” which gave a nod to the “Boy In Luv” music video as well as setting the mood to the theme of the album. RM wrapped about his still not being sure of his identity as he speaks of his Persona and the titles the world has impressed upon them all. In he end, he emphasizes that no matter what or who he is he wants to be there for his fans giving them the voices they don’t have and proving them a shoulder to cry on.
“Boy With Luv” (A Poem for the Small Things) is a more upbeat and funky pop song as described by the band on their V Live broadcast this morning. The song can be taken as a love song to a girl but following the theme of giving back we can also see it as a way for BTS to talk to their fans. Mentioning how they’ve helped them fly with their wings and reach their dreams and wanting to know everything about them.
Next up is “Mikrokosmos,” a track the band would like to be heard at night. The melody is a completely different sound that BTS has never explored before which gives a feeling of peace and wonder. The song plays on the idea of microcosm where every person is their universe but even though human lives seem insignificant in the grand scheme of things they are as important as every star and as broad as every universe. “One history in one person/One star in one person/Shining with 7 billion lights/7 billion worlds/Our individual dreams, let us shine/You shine brighter than anyone.”
“Make It Right” is a collaboration with none other than Ed Sheeran, whom the band is a huge fan of. The sweet melody has the feel of a Sheeran song with a BTS twist as they sing about the struggles they’ve been through and how that one person or people have helped them get trough the tough times. They refer to their Wings album hidden track “Sea” with the lyrics “Across the desert and the sea/This wide, wide world/I was wandering.” To BTS, success seemed like the sea while failure felt like a desert. By recalling this reference, they express how they will continue to travel the world and its endless deserts and seas if it means finding a place to belong. They also speak to their fans as they say “The reason I survived in hell/It’s for you, it was not for me/I know the sea without you is the same as a desert.” They are humble enough to recognize that thanks to their fans they have achieved their dreams.
In “HOME” the group gives a nod to their debut song “No More Dream” where they sang of some people’s dreams of “a big house, big cars, & big rings” but now that they’ve acquired all of these things, they are empty because materialistic things cannot fulfill a void. The 90’s sound and trap beat takes fans back to BTS’s roots as they started their career in Hip Hop and provides the perfect background to their message: HOME is where they feel loved, HOME is ARMY whenever BTS is going through a hard time.
The album takes a slow turn with “Jamais Vus,” French for “never seen.” We are treated to a new unit as Jin, Jungkook and J-Hope are the only voices on the track. The lyrics reference a humans life as that of a gamer. Asking how they can get a second chance, a second life in this game of life to do things differently. They sing of being afraid of their next move of where their steps will take them “My song lyrics, each gesture/Every word become afraid of my jamais vu/Again, I try to escape/But still, you grab me/My shadow becomes bigger/My life and you, equal sign/So my remedy is your remedy.” In the end though, no matter the struggle they won’t give up. It’s also interesting how they mention being saved and the fact that these three singers are also heavily featured in their SAVE ME webtoon from the BTS universe. It’s hard not to tie this song into that storyline as well.
Finally, the final track “Dyonisus” brings the album full circle. The Greek god of arts and excess is prominently referenced to here as the band sings “Just get drunk, like Dionysus/Drink in one hand, other hand Thyrsus/Art splashing inside this clear crystal cup/Art is alcohol too, if you drink it, you’ll get drunk fool.” A clear word of admonishment to not get drunk on their fame or fall into the traps that fame brings. The heavy thumping beats mixed with Korean sounds carry us into their world of exuberance as you can’t help but nod your head to the beats even though the entire song is a bit of a callout to those people who persist on giving them a name, a persona. This is clear when they say: “Born as a Kpop idol/Reincarnated artist/Reincarnated artist, reincarnated artist/What does it matter if I’m an idol or an artist?” This is also a reference to their other song “IDOL” where they say they love who they’ve become no matter what they’re labeled. Once touted as “idols” expected to be good looking, dance machines there to be consumed by the public, they have emerged as artists as they continue to speak their message to the world and speak of truths that the youth and every other generation can relate to.
Map of the Soul: Persona is yet another magnificent piece of art from these talented men. With their leader, RM, writing on every track the band gets their message across to their core audience and newcomers alike. Teamed up with upbeat and funky beats, this album is one that will stay with you after a first listen, asking you to dive in again and again.