Despite what some media might want you to believe, all you need to do is see RM’s explanation on the album to understand how much hard work BTS put into Map of the Soul: Persona.
There’s been a lot of buzz in the fandom this week about how Western media is portraying the collaborations on Map of the Soul: Persona, and it only seems to be getting worse. One doesn’t really have to speculate on why this is being done, as we all already know how BTS is often treated by the media.
Although it was cute at first to see Western song writers get so excited about working with BTS, it seems to have quickly turned into a problem of lessening the amount of effort BTS puts into the album, which is baffling when one considers the fact that none of the Western song writers can speak Korean, and the lyrics for the songs are mainly Korean.
For those that are unfamiliar with how much time, effort, and soul BTS puts into their music, this can easily come off looking like the group just passes off most of the work to others. But that’s absolutely not true at all.
Author extraordinaire Jen Frederick tweeted a really good explanation of why this is so problematic, which I highly suggest checking out.
Like usual, Kim Namjoon (RM) recently did a V Live where he went into length to describe each story behind working on the album.
All anyone has to do is check it out to see that BTS really does pour all their heart and soul into working on their albums, no matter who they collaborate with.
You can read Namjoon’s explanations below (or scroll all the way down for the video itself):
Namjoon wrote most of the lyrics on BTS’ ‘Map of the Soul: Persona’:
“First, in this album, I was a lyric-writing-bot. I wrote more lyrics for this album than any other album. Except for SUGA and J-hope’s parts, I wrote about 80 or 90% of the lyrics for this album. I guess I wrote pretty much all the lyrics. It’s partly because I wanted to, and partly because I was entrusted with the work.”
It took Namjoon a while to write his solo track:
“I focused on writing the lyrics, but then writing my rap part got delayed. My solo track, ‘Intro : Persona’ took me a long time to work on, so it was a bit tough. It was a hard process but thankfully, it turned out well.”
The meaning behind ‘Persona’:
“For me, persona is the social self. It represents our social mask. A mask could be either good or bad. It is what we present to the outside world as we lead our social and economic life. My persona would be RM then, right?”
“When I spoke with PD Bang I told him that we wanted to go back to the start, that we can’t deal with these things around us. That things were getting too big for us to handle. That we’d like to focus on the smaller things. So we looked into ourselves. But then, why is it ‘Persona’?
“Persona is social mask. Persona represents our social mask. But isn’t this for ARMYs? I thought about it myself… But for me, my persona is RM or BTS. That’s my social mask and my self. But the mask and persona itself is ARMY.”
Most of the album is a tribute to BTS’ ARMY:
“I couldn’t help but talk about ARMY. So except for ‘Intro : Persona’ and the last track ‘Dionysus’, from 2 to 6, ‘Boy With Luv’, ‘Mikrokosmos’, ‘Make It Right’, ‘HOME’, ‘Jamais Vu’, those tracks are our tribute to ARMY or a serenade to you. Well, I can’t think of better expressions. A confession? Or our thoughts. Something like that.
“Writing the lyrics therefore came very organically to me, with a single sentiment. When we worked on the album. The best and most beautiful words I can ever think of for the people I’m grateful to on my knees, those who have made me where I am now.
“The most honest things I could say to those I’m thankful to. Because of that, the process itself, just like always, the process is…to say good things, to cheer fans up. I’m happy about how it turned out. I feel proud.”
Namjoon said that the lyrics on this album are extremely important:
“In a time where the melody and good vibes is important, as someone who wanted to become a poet, as I wanted to become a writer, the audible feel of the words and the beauty of the lyrics are more important. And those are for you. The lyrics are way more important, right? We had to super focus and pick really carefully. We had to choose the right rough gem.
“It was quite grueling, but I really enjoyed the process. So I hope you pay attention to the lyrics as you listen to this album. I’d appreciate it. Of course, it could be because I wrote the lyrics, but the lyrics on this album are more important than any other album.”
He recorded ‘Persona’ five different times before he was satisfied:
“It was so much pressure and so tough. Of course, it is, since it’s a solo track. I wrote and fixed the lyrics and tore the structure apart countless times. When I first got this beat, it was 2 minutes and 54 seconds. I had to fill this entire thing with rap. The structure was simple. Verse, hook, chorus, and then verse, and hook. Another hook and out. It wasn’t anything special. but I wanted to go back to “What am I to you” feel.
“In ‘Mono’, I presented some chill and calm vibes. So I wanted to try out something wild which is my cup of tea. I really wanted to nail the rap to fill the entire thing with rap. I started with that thought. But it was SO tough.
“It’s such a simple track. I was under so much pressure. I kept fixing it even on the MV set. I practiced and changed constantly. It was even more challenging than ‘What am I to you’ in that ‘What am I to you’ had some clear narrative, but as for this one, this was it, and I had to come up with everything It was hard since I had to start from the scratch.
“But it turned out well. It turned out great. Going back and forth from Hong Kong or the U.S, I think in total, I re-recorded five times.”
They had a hard time adding on the Korean lyrics to ‘Boy With Luv’:
“To Add Korean is… You have to try. It’s really difficult to add Korean lyrics to these notes. I got stuck in this part for three days. We ended up keeping the ‘Listen my my baby’ part. I think that was the right move. But try adding some Korean lyrics. It’s really…It’s real tight. It was really hard to write Korean lyrics to this melody.
“As for the behind-the-scenes story, J-hope wrote his rap really well. But he felt it didn’t flow well. So he sent me an SOS so I helped him fix it a bit. It starts with his ‘Hope World’, right? That’s me.
“He wanted to give a little change to it. I hadn’t written mine, but I decided to work on J-hope’s and finish my part. I’d written everything but mine. I hadn’t finished my bridge part. So there’s a version of me recording his verse.”
The meaning behind ‘Mikrokosmos’:
“This song means that everyone of us is like the universe. You’re the micro cosmos, and I am the one. When I worked on this song, I listened to the song through earphones. I imagined like a human body became transparent, like X-ray shots. You know, there are veins, organs and muscles. I made this song by imagining such things shine like stars. In fact, fans love this song so much among songs included in the album.”
Ed Sheeran pushed for his English lyrics to stay on ‘Make It Right’:
“The original version had the Korean lyrics that I wrote. Probably…But Ed Sheeran wanted to keep the English lyrics as the song writer. So we kept the original lyrics. The original… But I think that was the better choice.
“That’s the better choice to keep the English lyrics. The Korean lyrics were like, ‘frozen sweat and hardened heart’. Something like this. So, it goes like..It sounded like this.I liked this phrase,’Frozen sweat’. I wanted to use that. Still, after it came out, I think it is better to have English lyrics. Thanks to that, fans can sing along this part.”
‘Make It Right’ was supposed to be for the vocal line only but it was changed to be OT7:
“In fact, this song was made or vocalists’ unit. Ed wanted us to sing together. Like ‘Spring Day’. He wanted to sing it like that song. So I added the rap part. As a result, the structure of this song is very simple. Notes or melodies, too. So, I think it’s good to have the rap parts in the middle.”
Namjoon spoke about some of the issues they had writing ‘HOME’:
“When we make songs, the song-making process is divided. Lyrics, melody or even beats are made by competitions. The producer will take the best one, regardless of who made it. So, the worst part of this process is it’s hard to see a big picture and it’s hard to collect opinions. Since we work separately at each one’s studio, we don’t talk much.
“When I hear this song, I felt regrettable that the vocal part and the rap part are divided. Vocal parts come out, and the rap verse, and the vocal. I wanted to have a part to integrate, besides the sing-along part.
“For ‘HOME,’ I asked PDogg like this. ‘I will do some ad-libs and send the file to you’. ‘Please use the good ones’. As a result, it made the song sound rich. The producer used more than I expected.”
He also explained a bit of the meaning behind ‘HOME’:
“Anyways, as the one who made this song, it’s embarrassing to say, but ‘Home’ means you. Wherever you are in the world, the place where you are is our home. That’s the place we should go back. We will return. The one who wasn’t welcomed in ‘Make It Right’ will go back ‘Home’. Can I say such details? It’s my idea. To me… I feel like that.”
Namjoon also talked about writing ‘Jamais Vu’ and his interpretation of the lyrics:
“I think this is the saddest song. When I heard the guided version, I was so emotional. It’s the unit song, so my voice wasn’t in it. But I wrote the lyrics. Whenever I hear that song, it makes me feel sad. When Jung Kook sings ‘Please give me a remedy,’ it’s so emotional. When you hear this song, you may wonder what this is about.
“We started making this song under the theme of game. There are many interpretations. So I can’t talk about them all, but we had the idea that this song is a game. Its universe is the game.
“We’re in the game. Like RPG game. When you play a console game, if your character is dead, you can respawn with the character. In some games, you have to start all over again, being deprived of tools. That’s the universe of this song.”
Hoseok wrote most of ‘Dionysus’ and Namjoon explained why:
“I wrote this part, and was knocked down. Supreme Boi, or whoever! Please help me! I passed the buck. Then, our relief pitcher came up. J-hope. I guess J-hope wrote the rest part mostly. I don’t know what happened afterwards, but he did a great job. I was amazed by his ideas. I’m not good at such things. He did a great job. Great job. Suga’s rap was like a piece of art. Everyone did well, like in a battle.”
You can watch the entire V Live video below:
Editors Note: These quotes are pulled from the English translations on the V Live video!