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The countdown officially starts now. BTS dropped the first teaser for their forthcoming album, Map Of The Soul: Persona, and the clip features leader and main rapper RM throwing it back with an energetic hip-hop track that finds the artist pondering “who the hell am I?” over a sample of the group’s 2014 song, “Intro: Skool Luv Affair.” It’s a full-circle moment for BTS and their loyal fans (known as ARMY), and it could be an indicator that Bangtan are going back to their hip-hop roots with Persona.
Throughout the video, RM is confronted with many different versions of himself, while words like “persona,” “shadow,” and “ego” — no doubt a reference to Carl Jung’s theories of psychology — are seen scribbled on a classroom chalkboard behind him. “My shadow, I wrote and called it ‘hesitation,'” RM raps. “It has never hesitated after becoming that. It keeps appearing under the stage or the light. Keeps glaring at me scorchingly like a heat wave.”
According to Jung’s theories, a “shadow” represents the dark side of one’s personality; for RM, his shadow is hesitation. The visual then shifts, as RM seemingly starts rapping from the perspective of his shadow, baring his flaws over the hard-hitting, guitar-infused beat. “Someone like me ain’t good enough for a calling,” he raps. “Someone like me ain’t good enough to be a muse.”
But RM also finds power in reclaiming these insecurities. At one point he raps, “The three syllables of my name, and the word ‘but’ that should come before any of those,” which is a reference to the internet phrase “But Namjoon” and the rapper’s past controversies. It’s a way to say that a phrase that once brought him great shame — a phrase that’s part of his public persona — can no longer embarrass him because it’s now part of him. “This is the map of my soul,” he says.
Essentially, if you need a crash course in psychology, Professor Namjoon has got you covered.
The scorching intro track also includes one hell of a catchy refrain (in English!): “Who the hell am I, I just wanna go / I just wanna fly / I just wanna give you all the voices till I die / I just wanna give you all the shoulders when you cry / Persona.”
As for what else fans can expect from Persona, the teaser seems to hint that the anticipated release will lean heavily on the group’s hip-hop DNA. Whereas the Love Yourself era put a spotlight on the Korean act’s vocalists, Map of the Soul could put the focus back on the rap line (RM, SUGA, and j-hope).
And while there’s probably hundreds of other small clues hidden throughout the visual — like, say, is Map Of The Soul another trilogy and does this teaser confirm that the other two will be titled “Shadow” and “Ego,” respectively?! — ARMY are undoubtedly already on the case. All we have to do is wait for the album to drop on April 12, which honestly might be the longest wait of our lives at this point.