Every once in a while, there’s a power player that debuts in the K-pop scene that has everyone talking about them, and this week has seen a lot of buzz surrounding JYP Entertainment’s newest boy band, Stray Kids.
On Monday, the nine-member act dropped their first formal EP I am NOT. Featuring seven songs the album is fronted by “District 9.” An alt rock-laden dance track that leans heavily on the bands rappers, the single overflows with forceful charisma. Incorporating wailing sirens and synths, EDM breaks, and a catchy chorus propelled by guitar riffs and propulsive beats, there’s a sense of rebellious energy throughout “District 9” as Stray Kids introduce themselves as the gatherers of “stray kids everywhere all around the world.”
The anthemic song was released with a dystopian-inspired music video that shows the members as white-clad inmates in a dark facility as they plot a jailbreak upon a schoolbus. “District 9” ends with the nonet performing aggressive, punching choreography amid a burning warehouse. Fans on social media were quick to note that, like labelmates TWICE, Stray Kids’ feature a school bus in their debut music video.
Technically their second album, I am NOT follows January’s Mixtape, which peaked at No. 2 on the World Albums chart despite being an informal introduction to the group featuring songs the band previously showcased during their formative television show, also called Stray Kids. Like Mixtape, Stray Kids’ first official EP has been well-received by stateside fans of the act; I am NOT quickly shot to the top 10 of the U.S. iTunes albums charts upon its release, where it remains as of publication time.
Like Mixtape, all of the songs on I am NOT were co-written by by Bang Chan, Han, and Changbin, who write music under the name 3RACHA.
Prior to their first album, Stray Kids already have had a bit of a career in the K-pop world; along with the release of Mixtape, the boy band appeared on Stray Kids, during which the nine men had to prove their worth to debut as a team under JYP, one of South Korea’s “Big 3” entertainment labels. The act gained immense popularity through the show and its musical releases, including their single “Hellevator,” and recently debuted on the Social 50 chart at No. 45, dated the week of March 31.
Watch the music video for “District 9” here: