Eclectic South Korean R&B crooner, Suran, has recently released “Wine” (AKA “If I Get Drunk Today,” a more direct translation from the original Korean), a new track featuring Changmo. From what I can tell of the translation, the song itself is simplistic lyrically: drinking wine brings back the memories, whether they be good or bad. We’ve all been there and Suran’s voice, always unique and earnest, conveys well the feeling of trying to get over your past love, full of emotional but regretful yearning. Changmo’s verse actually comes in a little hard and sassy with a put-upon apathy and I like the contrast with Suran’s verses because I’m actually thinking, “good for you girl this guy is trash you are too good and soft for this asshole.” Usually in a duet of regretful love the other party’s side of the story brings a different perspective, allowing room for some empathy. But here, Changmo’s verse only legitimizes Suran’s side of the story.

I’m always excited when Suran releases new music but maybe what is most buzzworthy about this specific single is its promotion. It wasn’t simply Suran’s “Wine” featuring Changmo but instead Suran’s “Wine” featuring Changmo produced by SUGA (AKA Min Yoongi of BTS). But why the emphasis, especially since “Wine” was co-produced by SUGA and Big Hit Entertainment mainstay, Slow Rabbit? Not to mention that Suran, Changmo, and Slow Rabbit all have writing and composition credits as well. This song certainly isn’t the first that SUGA has produced as he has many composition and production credits on BTS tracks. But perhaps this is his first production credit for a project completely independent from his BTS identity, marking a more lasting and professional first step in his music career: SUGA the producer instead of SUGA the idol.

And how does the production stack up? Overall the composition and arrangement was stronger than the mixing and production. Slow Rabbit usually arranges and produces the slower, more poignant songs for BTS and musically this same emotionality comes through on “Wine,” which uses a similar mix of neo-90s hip-hop and R&B and affecting chords that BTS does so well. At times, the instrumentation felt underproduced, empty and the layers not as well blended as they could be. I especially had this impression with the main synth, which felt unsupported and lacked color in both the verses and chorus, most likely a problem from the mixing phase. However, the recording and mixing of Suran’s and Changmo’s voices was done quite well and the arrangement of the piano was also pleasantly satisfying, though again, like the main synth, the mixing of the piano seemed to lack some depth and didn’t meld in with Suran’s voice as well as it should have. Perhaps too many of the layers hit at the same frequencies and needed to be compressed or filtered differently.

SUGA is still incredibly young but luckily has great mentors like Slow Rabbit, PDogg, and PD Bang at Big Hit (and opportunities with talented collaborators like Suran and Changmo) to only improve from here. I’d say “Wine” is a good first effort in a career that will hopefully contain many more.

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