Bulletproof
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Bulletproof

Suga’s “Interlude: Shadow” and the struggles within the Music Industry

“No one told me that my leap could also be my fall”

Image Credit: BTS Official Facebook

During BTS’ interview with Variety, Suga shared: “We worked together for seven years, there’s seven of us. It’s a lot more than just inspiration, this album contains our stories.”

Our first glimpse of Map of the Soul: 7 (MOTS: 7) came in the form of a trailer that was released for the introduction track — Interlude: Shadow.

I remembered anticipating its upload, waiting impatiently for the clock to strike 12 midnight.

I remembered thinking that it could be Suga who would be tackling the intro. The dark concept fits him so beautifully. He just has this specific ability to express the depths of his pain and sadness.

As I clicked play on the trailer, it was Suga standing at the end of a hallway — a hallway of eerily hooded people standing in front of unopened doors. The surrounding of each door frame was smeared with a red chunky substance — almost as if it was imitating the blood they’ve shed from the struggles they’ve been through as a band.

There were two main things that drew me to BTS in the first place: the production of their tracks, and the depth of their lyrics. Interlude: Shadow is an introspective track, or better described by the Recording Academy as “an atmospheric pop ballad that converts into an industrial rap monster”. This track was also a blast from the past, as the beat was made from a sampling of their O!RUL8,2? intro (this explains why the album title was scattered across the music video).

In this track, Suga refers to the Shadow — one of the archetypes introduced by Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung. The shadow represents the unwanted and undesirable parts of ourselves.

When they first started out in 2013, all the boys had big dreams. Suga starts off the track by listing his ambitions: I wanna be a rap star, I wanna be the top, I wanna be a rock star, I want it all mine, I wanna be rich. In the later released full-length track, Sugai raps in the additional verse: [you have a] big house, big cars, big rings. A similar line appeared in their old classic No More Dream, but it was the boys saying they wanted these things. This track reminds us of their growth: from merely having these as goals, to eventually achieving them.

When I first listened to this track, I was reminded of a RUN episode when BTS shared poems they had written. This is an excerpt from Suga’s poem: We dreamed of a blue sky, but it is too high up and cold here. I struggle to breathe, and as more light shines on us, it’s only law that the shadows multiply too. There is a price to pay for being in the limelight, and Suga acknowledges it in this track: People say, there’s splendor in that bright light, But my growing shadow swallows me and becomes a monster. The higher one climbs up, the greater the pressure they face (and this applies across any industry).

The moment I face myself brought lowest, It so happens that I’m flying the highest. The way Suga expresses this is wistful, poetic even. When we think of celebrities, we tend to forget that other than the success, they too have to deal with the pressure of the entire world watching their every move. During BTS Festa 2018, Suga shares his thoughts on this topic: “I’m doing so well, but what if I lose everything? What if I fail? Once what I have and my success disappears and crumbles away, would I be left without meaning?”.

In the first verse of Interlude: Shadow, Suga raps: Flying high is terrifying, No one told me how lonely it is up here, No one told me that my leap could also be my fall. These lyrics are Suga’s raw emotions of his struggle as an artist, his fluctuating fear between being in the spotlight versus being pushed down from the pedestal he’s always dreamed of. He further expresses the inner turmoil he faces: Please don’t let me shine, Don’t let me down, Don’t let me fly, Now I’m afraid.

I mentioned earlier how much I admired Suga’s ability to express himself, even to the intricate details. Our first in-depth glimpse of him as Min Yoongi rather than Suga, was when he released his mixtape Agust D. Specifically, his 7th track entitled The Last. In between his ragged breaths — as though he was gasping through his pain — he shares candidly on how he went through social anxiety, OCD and depressive thoughts.

At the end of The Last, Suga assures his audience that he has since been in a better state. Fast-forward to their interview with Zach Sang, Suga now says, “there is no growth without pain.” Though pain and struggle is inevitable, we will grow the most through it.

Though things can be tough sometimes and everything hurts, this time of struggle is the time when we are investing in laying the foundation of ourselves.

Bandleader Kim Namjoon (RM) shared during an interview for MOTS:7, saying: “As you go higher, your shadow will grow even bigger. Although you cannot fully overcome that difficulty, becoming a friend with your shadow is an important thing.” There will be times when our shadow will get the best of us — and it’s okay to accept that it happens.

Through the acceptance of ourselves, we will then recognize how we can invest our experiences into what brings us hope: how we can keep grounded, uplifting others, and remembering why we love what we do.

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Lily Low

Lily Low

“No darkness, no season is eternal.” | Writes about mental health, music, current issues, life, poetry, and faith.