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The Various Truths of Kim Namjoon: An Indigo Deep-Dive

“Something that’s mine.” That is how Namjoon describes his album Indigo, released last December 2, 2022. Although eight of the ten songs in the album are collaborations, to Namjoon, Indigo is extremely personal, something born out of his desire to find the truth in his identity between RM as a BTS member and Kim Namjoon as an individual.

The album begins with the line, “I’m saying that the truth is the one you should hold onto until the day you die.” This is narration by Yun Hyong Keun, a South Korean artist Namjoon admires. His name is the inspiration behind the title of Indigo’s opening track, Yun (with Erykah Badu). Yun Hyong Keun’s opening narration captures the overarching idea of the album – what is the truth that Namjoon should hold on to until he dies?

Through the tracks of Indigo, Namjoon answers this question in two ways; by exploring what it means to be human and by making sense of the mundane chaos people experience daily.

Yun is one of the songs that explores the essence of being human. In it, Namjoon rejects passing trends when he says, “f*** the trendsetter,” implying that the essence of being human lies beyond ephemeral things. Instead, the humanity of an artist lies in creating something that “live [s] and flow [s] in here, permanently.” This desire to exist beyond passing trends is also reflected in All Day (with Tablo). In this track, where he teams up with one of his childhood heroes, Namjoon explores what it means to find the “real me” in a world dictated by constantly shifting algorithms.

Meanwhile, in Still Life (with Anderson .Paak), Namjoon likens his existence as an artist and a public figure to a still life painting, as he lives a “life that continues to be on display.” He doesn’t focus on the burdens this kind of life might bring, however. Instead, Namjoon celebrates being able to break free of his frame and continuously transform himself, singing that “[he’s] still life, but [he’s] moving.

There is also something so innately human in the way Namjoon delves into the struggles any ordinary person might face on a day-to-day basis. In Forg_tful (with Kim Sawol), he sings about finding time to remember the important things in life; in Hectic (with Colde), he wonders if there is meaning “to keep this endless chasin’” even though there’s “nothing romantic” about how hectic life is. Namjoon has a way of tapping into the core of what it means to struggle as a human, and these songs clearly show it.

Indigo also includes more personal tracks. Lonely, for example, deals with how overwhelmed Namjoon feels being in “the cities [he doesn’t] belong.” Meanwhile, Closer (with Paul Blanco, Mahalia) deals with one’s desire to be close to someone unattainable. Change pt. 2, on the other hand, is Namjoon’s definite farewell to who he was in the past. In it, he considers his past self as a stranger, saying, “I don’t know this fool.” While these tracks might seem like they pertain to Namjoon’s specific experiences, there’s a poignant sense of universality to the themes he covers in them.

The themes Namjoon explored in the previously mentioned songs culminate in Indigo’s title track, Wildflower (with youjeen). Here, Namjoon finally finds the truth he wants to pursue. He compares his fame to fireworks that burst momentarily but fade into nothing, noting that “nothing was [his] to begin with anyway.” He yearns to be humbly transformed “from a flaming flower of fire to a flower of the field.” Resisting the greed that comes with his all-consuming dreams, Namjoon cries out, “Oh, please let me stay myself.

While the rest of the songs in Indigo are introspective, the final track No. 2 (with parkjiyoon), sounds more like a message to the world at large. The line “Dear, don’t look back anymore” is repeated several times, a gentle yet persistent reminder to anyone who listens that they did their best and that the only way for them now is to move forward. Ending Indigo with No. 2 is symbolic – it also sounds like Namjoon’s message to himself as he moves forward in his career.

According to Namjoon, he wants Indigo to make listeners feel “as if it was about themselves.” Since its release, Indigo has made a significant mark: it claimed the top 8 spots on Billboard’s World Digital Songs Sales chart following its release, and TIME Magazine hailed it as one of the best K-pop albums of 2022. These achievements and more show just how much Namjoon’s message has resonated with its listeners, thus further cementing him as one of the best lyricists and musicians of this generation.

Written by: Whoopi

Edited by: Lisa K

Designed by: Achan

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