BTS member and acclaimed rapper and producer SUGA just released ‘Haegeum’, the title track for his latest album D-DAY under the moniker and alias Agust D.
‘Haegeum’ closely resembles his previous smash hit ‘Daechwita’, carrying over a similar level of energy and aggression. SUGA is widely known for his appearances alongside the chart-topping group BTS. But in a collective known for its mainstream pop sound, and having to share the stage alongside six equally talented individuals, he has had to adjust and adapt, oftentimes sacrificing his true artistry. August D allows him the avenue for authentic expression—it was his stage name prior to joining BTS—it is an anagram with the name SUGA combined with DT which stands for Daegu, his hometown.
According to Big Hit Music:
“D-DAY includes a total of 10 tracks including main track ‘Haegeum’ and pre-release track “People Pt.2 (feat. IU)”. The album acts as the finale of the Agust D trilogy after his two previous mixtapes, Agust D (2016) and D-2 (2020).”
“The main track ‘Haegeum’ puts its spin on a hip-hop track with Korean traditional string instrument haegeum sound. SUGA participated in the songwriting of all tracks and the overall production of D-DAY, boasting his unparalleled capability as a musician and producer.”
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Lyrically. ‘Haegeum’ discusses freeing one’s mind against the various forces responsible for restricting and controlling how we think. He calls for invoking the freedom of expression, but in such a way that is not contradictory to those of others.
This song’s simply about freeing what’s forbidden
But you must remember to differentiate freedom from self-indulgence
This song’s a haegeum
Get on board now
This lively rhythm
A new kind of haegeum
Musically. Agust D utilizes a Haegeum that plays throughout the track. It is a two-stringed fiddle originating from Korea that was used mainly for court music and popular ensembles. It projects a rather coarse sound, but it fits with the harsh and aggressive trap beat laid over. There is not much variation going on but the track prevents a sense of repetitiveness by playing with its energy; taking elements of the beat out during the breakdown and building right back up for a satisfying rush during the chorus. The lack of variation in the instrumental also emphasizes the track’s vocals and lyrics which stand as the song’s centerpiece.
Freedom of expression
Could be reason for somebody’s death
Could you still consider that freedom?
If your convictions are reflected in your judgment and speculations
And you believe that your freedom is on the same level as others
Then don’t hesitate, just get on board
Overall, ‘Haegeum’ fits into the image that Agust D has created for himself, an authentic artist that does not hold anything back when it comes to his musicality. It also presents an interesting discussion of a subject matter that I’m not sure has been discussed through music.
Images courtesy of Big Hit Music and HYBE LABELS
Lyrics courtesy of Genius