The seven-track mixtape, formally dubbed a “playlist” by the artist, is RM’s second, following 2015’s self-titled RM (released as Rap Monster), and does an about-face from that release’s largely bellicose nature in favor of a more introspective mixtape. Featuring songs performed in both Korean and English, Mono was released simultaneously with a music video for the finale “Forever Rain.”
A feeling of weariness and loneliness pervades the soft-rock-imbued track — and the new mixtape as a whole — with lilting beats and gentle strumming guiding RM’s soft raps and an almost desperate repetition of the song’s title phrase in both English and Korean. “I wish it rains all day/Cuz then people wouldn’t stare at me,” he raps melancholically over the gentle melody. “Cuz the umbrella would cover the sad face sad face/Cuz in the rain people are busy minding themselves.” The song is a conscientious slowing-down for RM, who refers to his fast-paced life and flow in the lyrics.
“Forever Rain” is preceded on Mono by six other tracks, leading leads off with a pair of city-oriented tracks “Tokyo” and “Seoul.” The melancholic, piano-based former is an ambient tune about a sense of unknowing, longing, and pain performed in English before ending with the incorporation of traditional eastern strings, grating synths, and a hypnotic whistling over subtle sounds of a city. Meanwhile, “Seoul” is produced by English electronic duo Honne, who have seen major success in Asia, and is a gently rhythmic tune about love and hate. It, like “Tokyo,” features an atmospheric soundscape, blending silence and echoing synths, and addresses his mixed feelings towards the city he lives in.
Mono then leads into “Moonchild,” a smooth, bilingual alt R&B track about the titular persona coming into one’s own; the term was previously alluded to in RM & V’s “4 O’Clock,” released last year as part of BTS’ 4th anniversary celebration. Up next is “Badbye,” one of two collabs on the album, and the briefest track at just under two minutes. Featuring Korean indie artist eAeon, a soloist known for his haunting electronic sounds and work in the duo Mot, the sorrowful song is dominated by his distorted vocals, forceful, resounding beats, and twinkling synths, with RM heard beneath the song’s main, gloomy melody. It’s followed by the reverberating synths of “Uhgood,” a pensive track on loneliness; its English title is a homonym to its Korean one “??,” which is related to a sense of being off or dislocated and exploration of the sense of self, a theme that RM talked about at the United Nations last month.
The penultimate track of Mono is the sprightly “Everythingoes” with Nell. Like all of the band’s tracks, it features a lush, resounding electro-rock melody, and it builds steadily as RM and lead vocalist Kim Jong Wan, who co-produced the song together, layer their vocals together. The airy tone is bisected by a characteristic, forceful rap from RM as he ruminates on life and its fleeting hardships, before ending off with the sound of rain, leading into “Forever Rain.”
RM produced the entire album with Pdogg and Hiss Noise, and is credited with composing all seven tracks and writing all the lyrics, while he also acted as co-producer on each song with their respective songwriters.
Mono was released for free and is available through download links shared by BTS and also available on digital music sites. It came out shortly after BTS completed the European leg of their Love Yourself world tour, which has seen the septet sell-out cities around the globe. It is the first album from BTS since the release of their chart-topping Love Yourself: Answer in August.
Upon its release, several hashtags and song titles off of Mono trended worldwide on Twitter.
Watch RM’s new video and stream Mono below.