After many many (many) weeks since this pivotal tweet, the long awaited Rap Monster (AKA Kim Namjoon of BTS) and Wale collaboration has finally been released. And I do think “Change” was well worth the wait. After listening (and as I continue to listen as I write this), I can feel myself yearning for more collaborative work between the two. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from them, but the resulting single concentrating mostly on the murky socio-political climates of both South Korea and USA was a slight surprise to me. Though in retrospect, what else could these two artists create when they came together besides something like this? I feel anything else would have been a disappointment.
Both men cover complex topics ranging from the South Korean education system to police brutality in the USA and the first two verses by RapMon and Wale respectively seem more a lamentation than anything else. And the music matches this as well, slow and measured due to the satisfying simplicity of the melancholic piano chords, plucky strings, and rumbling bass. It is an enjoyable listen but still seems to convey an atmosphere of seriousness. This single is by no means meant for dancing but instead for listening and considering (with an appropriate head bob to match the groove).
One complaint I have is the lyrical disconnect between RapMon’s and Wale’s verses. Both cover important topics but they seem to have little to do with one another, almost as if they wrote their verses independently without input from each other. And the chorus, the very simple repetition of “the world is gonna change,” does little to bridge the gap between South Korean cyber bullying and American systematic oppression. I do think there is a connection between the two things and if I sit and think hard enough I can understand it. I just wish the connection was made smoother by the artists themselves. Also, I know RapMon is younger and not American (and English is his second language), but his verse about education and cyber bullying seemed far less hard-hitting than Wale’s experiences as a black man in modern USA. The tones didn’t align and I found Wale’s verse left much more of an impact (RapMon’s verse was good as well! Just not…as good).
However, I do like the energy of the chorus musically and the strained quality of RapMon’s voice, which seems to convey a hopeless desperation or even a call to arms, much needed after the lengthy (and depressing) pictures of the modern world conveyed to us by both rappers. I think production-wise, the chorus comes in a little too hard and the synths are maybe too jarring but this is only a small quip in an overall solid production.
Also a quick note: I quite like RapMon’s bridge before the first chorus. There’s something quite poetic about “If hope is a taste, what’s yours? What you eat all day?” These two lines had me thinking quite seriously, ‘What taste does my hope have??’ Thanks RapMon.
The second movement of this song (beginning around the 03:27 mark), almost a different song entirely, really surprised and impressed me. I actually paused and refocused and let out a small noise of satisfaction when I first listened. The song becomes grittier, darker, more focused. Almost as if it was hypnotizing me with the way the soft piano shifts to a distorted and pulsating synth. The attitude of the two rappers becomes less thoughtful and more confident as well, like a call to action instead of a hopeless lament like the first two verses. And the tonal cohesiveness that I was missing in the first part of the song? It finally comes at the end when RapMon and Wale join together for the outro (but perhaps a little too late to completely disregard the disconnect of the first two thirds): we must make the change, demand the change, hope for the change, of both ourselves and others, regardless of where we are from or what problems we have.
Also another quick note: Was Wale calling RapMon, Moonz?? If so, can I also call him Moonz from now on???