Months after connecting over Twitter, Wale and BTS’ Rap Monster teamed up to release “Change” on Sunday. The track is an East-meets-West, politically fraught banger filled with the pair’s hopes for a better world.
“Change” features Rap Monster, dubbed “RM” for the release, and Wale trading off verses about societal ills, primarily those currently causing divisiveness in the U.S. With the duo criticizing the “alt-right,” Twitter’s ability to “kill,” “racist police” and declaring “no faith in the government,” the unrestrained hip-hop track is one of the most progressive songs yet from the socially aware boy band BTS.
Though most K-pop acts shy away from politicizing their music, or even touching on seemingly controversial topics, the Rap Monster-led K-pop act has addressed politics and cultural issues in their songs on multiple occasions, with a particular focus on youth-related issues such as mental health, bullying and suicide. The atypical approach has made BTS fan favorites in the U.S., leading to them becoming the highest-ranked K-pop act ever on the Billboard 200.
The song also features a variety of puns and plays on words, including references to ARMY, BTS’ fandom, and Wale’s chart-topping “Folarin Like,” which itself had a nod to the Korean boy band.
The English-language collaborative track was released several months after Wale tweeted at Rap Monster in November, asking if he wanted to work together after discovering through a fan’s tweet that Rap Monster had previously freestyled over Wale’s “Illest Bitch.”
— Wale (@Wale) November 21, 2016
The two rappers got together in South Korea in March to record the track and film the accompanying music video. The video for “Change” features the pair washed-out by DayGlo hues as they drop their rhymes over depictions of people from different social strata, some actively changing their lives while others are, literally, strangled by technology.
Wale and Rap Monster made the mixtape available for free through links tweeted out by BTS’ agency, Big Hit Entertainment.
“Change” was released just days before BTS begins the North American leg of their Wings tour at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, on Thursday night. One of the few K-pop acts to hold concerts in U.S. stadium venues, the group’s popularity was proved when they were forced to add additional dates after initially selling out.
Watch the music video for “Change” here: