A Deeper Look Into Agust D’s D-2
Two years have passed since the release of BTS’ Agust D’s, D-2. Agust D is also known by his producer pseudonym Suga. The mastermind behind many of the best selling group’s music, Suga dropped his second mixtape after four long years of fans earnestly waiting for his next release.
The ten tracked mixtape included several collaborations with fellow group member RM, NIIHWA, Kim Jong Wan from Electronic Rock Band, “Nell” and Max Schneider, known more as MAX. Suga was heavily involved in the creative process from the countdown that led to its release to the production of the music video for the lead tack Daechwita and the entirety of the lyricism and production for D-2.
It is clear compared to Suga’s previous mixtape, “Agust D” and now “D-2” that there is more Suga has learnt and understood than he already had. With his passionate rapping over heavy set beats and singing, Suga flawlessly delivers an album to his listeners where they feel empowered, understood and undeniably touched.
The album starts off with, “Moonlight”, a low, slow paced track that’s perfect for the album’s initiation. There’s heavy beat boxing at the beginning and Suga starts rapping, low and attractive while he introduces himself as who he is performing, not BTS’ Yoongi or Suga but “Agust D”.
The pseudonym stands for his producer name SUGA backwards while the D-T remains an ode to the group he rapped back in his hometown, Daegu. In Moonlight, Suga speaks of his struggle to climb up to the top from “a basement in Namsandong”, his trials and efforts that ultimately lead him “to a penthouse in Hannam Hill”.
Suga affectionately calls himself a “Peterpan who can’t wake up from his dream”, a reference to his own words where he said he didn’t want to grow up or lose his dreams. Suga raps earnestly and reflects on his position in life where he compares himself to who he was once before. “A lot has changed in my life,” He says, “But the moonlight is still the same.”
He talks of the struggles of making music, of existing, of wondering whether he’s doing is even enough. He talks of the pressure that comes with being who he is. Suga ends his track by admitting that change happens to everyone, as we grow older and into the person we are and reminds himself he is not alone. There’s a small part of him that wonders if it could be different.
The next track that follows is Daechwita, the only track from the album with a music video for it so far with incredible imagery and references to Korean folklore. Agust D acts not only as a noble king but as the commoner that ultimately assassinates him.
Many on Twitter have speculated that the two personas refer to his own struggles with who he is and the conflict between who he should be. Daechwita refers to a whole genre of traditional Korean military music played by wind and percussion instruments. In a way, it is Agust D paying homage to his roots as a Korean artist but also someone who makes music.
A lot of Suga’s music refers to his struggles of the life he led before BTS and after and Daechwita is no different. Suga goes, “Born as a slave, risen to a king.” Daechwita is a heavy paced track that Suga reflects about his past and present. He tells the people looking so earnestly for their downfall, “Remember my names. These bastards who are all talk.” Suga talks of the worldly and intangible, about how he has what he wants, from clothes to money to knowing who he truly is.
It almost feels like Suga has reached a plane of existence where he has achieved everything he wants to and feels sorry for everyone praying on his downfall.
Daechwita is followed by What Do You Think? Another track with fast paced music, Suga will leave you breathless with his words. Suga raps about how he doesn’t care about what people say about him, that he doesn’t care about the lives they lead and scorns at everyone who thinks his success has anything to do with their failure.
Suga then talks about “The ten zeroes in my bank account, it’s the money that I loaned with my youth as collateral damage”. It is a reference to his previous solo track called The Last where Suga talks of how all the money he has now is a payment for his lost youth.
The next song that starts playing is Strange featuring fellow BTS member, RM who Suga boasts a relationship that surpasses more than ten years. The duo starts off the track by going, “If there is God, please tell me life is happiness.”
Suga and RM talk of how inescapable capitalism is, about how money make up and replaces our dreams and hope and aspiration with it too. As we grow older, the world becomes murkier. We lose sight of the things that made us once happy to be alive. RM and Suga asl us, “The one who isn’t sick in the world is treated as the sick, isn’t it strange?” They ask us. “The one who has his eyes open in the world that has their eyes closed, isn’t it strange? They say ‘have a dream’ when no one has a dream. There’s no correct answer, isn’t it strange?”
RM raps about how, “People are boasting about their dog collars and dog houses, fighting all day about who shines. At this point we wouldn’t even know.” The track is a critique on capitalism, on consumerism and materialism, on how none of us truly have any control over our own lives and some of the choices we make either. It is a critique on how we as humans continue to live and drift aimlessly without stopping for a moment and thinking there is more to the lives we lead. It is also a critique on how those who think differently are casted aside.
RM and Suga then end the track poetically with, “In the world, where dream has become an option, there’s no correct answer, that's the answer.”
The next track that follows is 28 featuring artist NIIHWA. The direct Korean translation of the title is “Perhaps, I am slowly becoming an adult.” Suga sings about how he’s finally getting to know the world as he grows older but wishes, at the end with a soberness we can all relate to, that he didn’t have to know it at all.
Suga raps about how he can’t remember the things he grew up hoping for and he’s terrified about losing his dreams. He talks about how he thought he had changed when he turned twenty or when he graduated. He wonders what changed. Suga then realizes he’s suddenly filled with emotion, enough to cry. He wonders about what kind of life he wanted and then he realizes with a start, it doesn’t matter anymore.
28 is followed by Burn It featuring MAX. With a beautiful balance between Suga’s raspy voice, MAX’s high vocals and electric guitar, Suga reflects back on his past self and realizes he’s changed. “Let’s go back to the times that almost destroyed me,” He says. “To the life that was possessed by jealousy, loathing, inferiority and han”. Han refers to a unique Korean concept of a concoction of feelings; sorrow, nostalgia, pain, anger and hope.
Suga talks about how nothing much has changed from who he was back then and who he is now. He wonders though what would remain of him if he were to be burned completely. “Maybe the ashes would remain,” He muses. “Or maybe it would remain the same.”
Suga wonders if the anger and pain he feels is nothing but a façade, something used to drive passion. He reminds himself gently in the mirror that even giving up is a form of courage, a reference to his own words in a live stream where he comforts a fan who said they gave up on their dreams.
Suga’s next song, People, starts playing. Even from the first few chimes, the listener feels something different. Something lighter. Suga wonders if he’s a good person or not and then he realizes he just is.
Suga talks of how people will continue to exist and to live and love and then eventually fade into oblivion. The lyrics might be heavy but it comforts the listener. Suga says it happens to every one of us. He tells us so what if we get hurt? It’ll pass. It’ll brush past us. It’ll happen. He tells us to flow in the same way water does and find out if there’s something at the end.
People is light. It is a gentle reminder that things will work out but hurt is inescapable. He tells us a life full of drama and passion can be tiring and sometimes it’s great to just merely exist.
Suga raps, “Who said humans are the animals of wisdom? To me, it looks like they’re the animals of regret.” In People, Suga urges the listener to let go, to understand themselves and assure them they’ll be okay. He tells us what’s special to us is ordinary to someone else and vice versa and we need to understand that. It is a gentle reminder that we are not alone in what we feel but so is everyone else.
The next track that starts playing is Honsool, the title referring to the culture of one drinking or eating alone at bars. Honsool refers to a rising individualistic trait in Korean society where one decides to let steam off alone.
In Honsool, Suga narrates a long day at work and what happens when he comes home. He takes out some alcohol and reflects back on what he did all day and what he should. “I thought I’d party everyday as a superstar.” He muses. I imagine him lying in his bed and then shaking his head to himself, “Tomorrow will come and go again. It doesn’t matter anyway. We’ll just endure through the day, I guess.”
Interlude: Set me Free is what plays after. An interesting note is seeing how the interlude is almost to the end of the album and not in the middle. Set Me Free is gentle with Suga crooning softly and almost begging to be let free even when there’s a part of him knowing he doesn’t want that. He talks of how confusing it is to feel like crawling on the floor one day and flying high the other. He begs to be let free knowing he doesn’t want it either. Set Me Free is short but heart wrenching, listening to Suga ask for something we do not understand and never will.
The next and final track that cements the album is Dear My Friend featuring JW of Nell. In this particular song, Suga dedicates it to an old friend from his hometown in Daegu who’s imprisoned. In Dear My Friend, the audience does not exist. We begin to disappear. It is a song between Suga and his friend. The song starts off gently with Suga telling his friend that he misses him and how “the memories of us together circle around me.” Suga laments about whether or not things would have been different if he had stood up or spoken out.
He asks him how he’s doing and then talks of how he hates him. He says, “With the two of us, even the world was nothing to be afraid of.” The rest of the song is Suga narrating their memories fondly. It almost feels like we’re invading a private moment of his, something we should not hear or even deserve to. Suga continues to wonder how things would have been if it were different and then ends the song with, “There’s no me that you used to know, there’s no you who I used to know either.”
All in all, there can only be attempts in which one tries to describe what D-2 by Suga makes them feel. But at the end, they all feel futile. It is clear from every single track that Suga has put a part of him into every one of them, carefully folded and tucked with love and honesty, with the hope that he is seen and understood. Every single track is unapologetically and undeniably his from the very first track to the last. Every single track answers a question we wonder about.
Every single track answers something we’ve been looking for. It is brutally honest, it is brutally his. It carries his love, his anger, his hurt, his sadness, his pain and his belief that things will get better, even one thinks it won’t. It speaks of youth, of the monotonous routines of life, of what it means to be human and what it means to exist in a world like ours.
It is Suga coming to the realisation he’d grown up, that he existed now just as he had then, that what he dreamed of had come true. He speaks of regret, of friends forgotten, of realising the world for what it was. His genius shines through every track — unapologetically his from its very first breath to the last.
Lyric translations from Doolsetbangtan