Dedicated ARMY veterans will likely be dissecting the set of RM’s NPR Tiny Desk concert for the rest of the month. To celebrate the release of his solo album, Indigo, the BTS rapper born Kim Nam-joon recreated an amazingly detailed replica of the Washington, D.C.-based Tiny Desk office set in South Korea, complete with shelves packed with tasty Easter eggs.
But the focus, of course, was on the vocals, which the 29-year-old star delivered on with ease, beginning with the jazzy opening track of his three-song set, “seoul.” The chilled-out bilingual song from RM’s 2018 mono mixtape set a mellow mood for the 18-minute mini-show, complete with warm keyboards and restrained beats from drummer JK Kim.
After the opening track, RM said it was about his second home town in South Korea, before introducing his band and noting that the album version of the opening track from Indigo, “Yun,” features R&B legend Erykah Badu, who, unfortunately, could not make it to Seoul for the session. RM also explained that it was inspired by Korean painter Yun Hyong-keun, who, “was always saying that you should firstly be a human before you do some art or do something, so this song is inspired by his lifelong message,” he said, adding that one of the artist’s images is on the Indigo cover.
While the band played the slow-rolling soul rap tune, Badu’s recorded vocals floated above the chorus as RM dropped his mashed-up English/Korean bars over the loungey arrangement. “F–k the trendsetter/ I’mma turn back the time/ Back the time, far to when I was nine,” he rapped before seamlessly slipping into Korean for the rest of the first verse.
RM said that though he’s been doing music for 15 years — 10 of them with BTS — Indigo is his first official full-length solo album. “I went all the way just to release these 10 tracks and 10 colors out of my soul and out of my ego,” he said of the album that dropped on Friday (Dec. 2) in the midst of BTS’ open-ended group hiatus.
“This time I finally could show the world what’s really inside me and what I wanted to do,” he added of the collection he’s been working on since 2019 with the band, which also featured Jaeshin Park on bass and DOCSKIM on keyboards.
For the final track, RM slid into Indigo‘s funky second track, “Still Life,” which he said was inspired by a visit to a “random” museum where he saw lots of paintings from the 19th century with that title, giving him the idea to write a song about his life being like a canvas on which he exhibits himself to the whole world. The soul clap tune was the perfect excuse to bust out some of BTS’ signature coordinated dance moves, but given the setting, RM had to make do with dropping his emphatic verses from an office chair as the band swirled up some sinuous grooves behind him.
Watch RM’s Tiny Desk concert below.