Right Place, Wrong Person

Right Place, Wrong Person

As the leader of Korean superstar group BTS, rapper-producer RM (aka Kim Nam-joon) is not always free to follow his musical curiosities or to explore deeply personal experiences. When he writes, records, and performs within BTS, he is doing it as part of a larger group, and the sacrifices that come with that are made in favour of something more collective. But RM has much to say as an artist outside of his BTS persona, and in the first 11 years of the group’s career, he has found the space to say it, releasing his own solo material in the form of two mixtapes (2015’s RM and 2018’s mono.), a 2022 solo album debut (Indigo), and now Right Place, Wrong Person. While Indigo was a vulnerable reflection back on RM’s twenties, Right Place, Wrong Person is somehow even more raw in its sounds and sentiments. The 11-track album is a diary-like study of healing wounds (“I just hope you remember me/The best grave in your cemetery”) and hard-won liberations (“I like my broken self/Bitch, that's the shit”) delivered in eddies of spoken-word verse, husky vocals, and RM’s signature lyrical rap. Pre-release track “Come back to me” acted as a disclaimer of what was to come. A slow-burn exhale of a song, the six-minute track about RM’s desire to understand his suffering (“You are my pain, divine, divine”) is an antithesis to the two-and-a-half-minute, hook-focused tracks that dominate so much of modern music. RM is similarly experimental in the hypnotic mood-setter “Right People, Wrong Place” and “ㅠㅠ,” a 74-second musing seemingly about the fans who come to his shows: “Do you stay inside or go off to life?/I'm so grateful for everyone's time/Hope you all had such wonderful night.” As with Indigo, RM finds room to collaborate on Right Place, Wrong Person. French American jazz duo DOMi & JD BECK produce the percussive-driven “?,” while American singer-songwriter Moses Sumney features heavily on the groovy “Around the world in a day.” British rapper Little Simz contributes two verses to the jazzy “Domodachi,” which bounces between English, Korean, and Japanese to ask listener-friends to let loose: “Just ignite this bonfire/Friends gather around me one by one.” The uptempo “Groin” sees the leader of BTS breaking out of some of the boxes fame has put him in, working to accept the moments he has “fucked it up”: “I only represent myself/Let’s say what we have to say before we get sick and die.” “LOST!” is similarly energetic and blithe in its celebration of life’s confusions, positioning RM’s disorientation not as something to be feared but embraced: “I'm goddamn lost/I never been to club before/I hit the club/I never felt so free before.” Here and elsewhere on the album, the eponymous “wrong person” doesn’t seem to be another individual, but rather a description of self. But with this music-making, the hope of something “right” seems to be on the horizon—if not here yet, then coming: “Time flies, he’s 14 and he’s already 30/And I look up in the sky, I see silver cloud/Yo, hurry.”

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