When RM officially introduced himself to the music industry through BTS‘ debut in 2013, the then-18-year-old Kim Namjoon was known through the stage name Rap Monster after being praised by hip-hop veterans for his spitting abilities, but he later shared a love-hate relationship with the moniker. In 2017, the star made the formal move to professionally go by RM after realizing it didn’t fully represent who he was or his love for all music. Instead, “RM” now opened his name up to represent a range of meanings, one of them thought to be the “Real Me.”
Even if rap is where RM started, his first proper solo album, Indigo, shows that it’s only one facet of the musician. With assistance from longtime musical legends in different genres, plus rising up-and-comers, the LP is a collection of songs that the star describes as an “archive” of his 20s.
Not only are RM’s artistic inspirations wide, but the 28-year-old plays with how he presents them to the world. On one track, he’s feeling feisty and confident to take on the world, and later, he’s reflective and alone in his hotel room. RM is not trying to bring what’s topping the charts today to this record, but it’s meant to showcase the ever-evolving people we are and become. Captures and snapshots of the “real” Kim Namjoon live throughout the album, but Indigo emphasizes that he is not a static piece of art.
While it’s tough to rank these songs from “worst” to “best,” Billboard is taking these flickers of RM and looking at how the global star is opening himself up in new musical form.