RM’s Intro: Persona Is A Necessary Discussion Surrounding One’s Identity
RM, the leader of BTS and rapper, released Intro:Persona on the 27th of March, 2019. It was the group’s first BTS trailer to enter the Billboard YouTube Song charts and their fastest comeback trailer to surpass 20 million views.
Intro: Persona is a discussion surrounding RM’s identity. It is him questioning who he is and the persona he shows to the world. It is him coming to terms with the idea he might never know who he is but admitting comfort and relief instead of apprehension.
In a live stream, RM explained how difficult the entire process for creating Intro: Persona really was. He admitted to recording it, again and again, traveling back and forth from Hong Kong to the States, rerecording it five times over three weeks, and ended up going with the original.
In an interview for SiriusXM, RM describes Intro: Persona as an “old school track”. He explained how dynamic his rapping was and how the message behind it was very simple. “It’s literally all about the persona — which is the social mask.” He said. “It starts with the really basic question we always ask ourselves for a life long time — 'Who Am I? Who the hell am I’"?
RM described Intro: Persona as the process of questioning himself and understanding who he really is. A quick listen to his track will make you understand what he means.
The music video begins in a classroom. The camera pans out and RM stands in the middle. He immediately starts rapping, “Who am I?” He asks. “The question I had my whole life. The question I probably won’t have the answer to for my whole life.” Despite this solemn admission, RM continues. “If I were answerable with a few words then God wouldn’t have created all these various personas.”
Fans were quick to notice how Intro: Persona was sampled with one of BTS' oldest hits Intro: Skool Luv Affair. The latter, a track performed by the group’s rap line trio (RM, SUGA and J-Hope) is a discussion surrounding their style and questioning what they want to perform, how they want to perform, and why. RM goes, “When I love, I love as if I’ve never been hurt,” He says. “As if I will give even more — even if it takes everything away from me.”
In Intro: Persona, RM muses. “I’m still not sure if I’m a dog, a pig, or whatever,” He says, referencing their older song Am I Wrong. “But then others come and put a pearl necklace on me.”
“A superhero that I wished to be, now it feels like I’ve become one.” He says “But why is there more and more blabbering? One says “run,” and another says “stop”. This one says “look at the forest,” and that one says “look at the wildflower”.
Here, RM talks of how he’s finally come to where he has always wanted to be but instead of silence, there is noise. Instead of asking what he wants, he’s given directions and orders instead.
“My shadow, I named him “hesitation” and called him so.” RM says, “Once he became it, he has never hesitated.”
It is here that fans think RM is referencing the Shadow Archetype in Jungian Psychology. It is after all titled Persona. The Shadow Archetype is the unconscious aspect that remains unknown to us. The Shadow can be something positive or negative but is mostly unknown, instinctive, and irrational.
RM talks of his Shadow as a culmination of his fears. In Intro: Persona, he steps into the voice of his Shadow and speaks, “Hey, have you already forgotten why you started this?” He asks, “You were just loving it that there’s someone listening to you.”
RM then laments on how maybe someone like him isn’t good enough for performing music or delivering the truth. Maybe someone like him isn’t good enough to be a muse either but he goes, “My flaws that I know, maybe those are really all I’ve got.” He says and comes to the realization, “The world is actually not interested at all in my clumsiness.”
Something interesting to note is RM’s portrayals of himself in his music video. In one scene, he is dressed as a student, perhaps a reference to how young he was he first started performing. In another scene, he is magnified, brought out in the form of CGI. In another, it is his reflections, mirrored ten times over. In another, it is him surrounded by faceless mannequins who raise his hands when he does and moves as he does.
Many have speculated that the different portrayals of him in the music video really are symbolic of his different personas. In a way, it is all RM vastly different from each other but still RM.
RM then bursts into his chorus, going, “Who the hell am I? Tell me all your names baby. Do you wanna die? Oh, do you wanna go? Do you wanna fly? Where’s your soul? Where’s your dream?” He breathes, “Do you think you’re alive?”
It is almost as if RM is telling us to truly know our selves here we must understand who we are and the insignificance we play in the world’s daunting existence. It is only then we can ask ourselves who we are and question ourselves.
It is only when we understand our flaws are a part of us, stitched under our skin that we can begin to understand who we really are. It is only when we understand our flaws are that makes us human and we treat ourselves as human that we understand.
RM then comes close to the end of Intro: Persona, realizing there is no such person who is purely evil or purely good. “Dear myself,” He says. “You must never lose your temperature because you don’t need to be warm or cold. Though I might sometimes pretend I’m good and sometimes pretend I’m evil — this is the barometer of my direction that I want to set.”
In the end, RM comes to the realization that he, like every single one of us, is multifaceted. There is no such thing as someone entirely good or entirely evil and everything should be taken in moderation. There is no single face, no single voice, no single answer to a single question. He understands the world and the people who inhabit it are too complicated to be so simple.
Intro: Persona is a discussion surrounding RM’s identity. It is him questioning who he is, why he exists, why he makes music. It is him questioning his decisions, his purpose, it is him asking why he does what he does. It is a letter to himself, a reminder of why he creates. It is him understanding the past, present and future are a part of him. It is him realizing his faults and mistakes are what he is, making the brightest stars in the constellation of his life.
In an interview, RM said he hoped anyone listening to Intro: Persona would begin to question who they are and try to understand themselves. When you listen carefully, you will understand.