BTS leader RM may be on his own during the promotional cycle for his newly released debut solo album Indigo, but the musician is doing his best to keep his surroundings familiar and consistent. For his first solo NPR Tiny Desk (Home) Concert, RM performed from Seoul, South Korea, in front of an intricately detailed replica of the original Tiny Desk performance space. Joined by a four-piece backing band, which has aided in crafting the album since 2019, the rapper, born Kim Nam-joon, took center stage.
RM opened his Tiny Desk set with a return to an early solo release, his second mixtape Mono shared in 2018. With only 18 minutes in his set, he carefully selected the Honne-produced “Seoul” from the project’s 7-song tracklist to represent the warmth he feels towards a place he considers to be his second hometown in South Korea.
The second song on the brief setlist, the Indigo opening track “Yun,” is an ode to the Korean painter Yun Hyong-keun, whose work graces the album cover. “He was always saying that you should firstly be a human before you do some art, or do something,” RM shared. “The song is inspired by his lifelong message.”
Subdued synths and an interconnected rhythm section – with DOCSKIM on the keyboard, John Eun on guitar, Jaeshin Park on bass, and JK Kim on drums – led through “Yun” as RM rapped about communication and mortality. The star noted before the song’s start that its featured artist, R&B icon Erykah Badu, was unable to make it to Seoul for the performance.
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RM closed out his set with “Still Life,” sans Anderson .Paak, who also received a shoutout in his absence. “Life is like a canvas, I’m exhibiting myself to the whole world,” the rapper said, expanding on the album’s theme of encapsulating a wide-spanning stretch of his twenties. “Still life is stuck on the canvas, but it’s alive and eternal and still moving forward.”
“Still Life” shifted the pace and tone of the Tiny Desk performance but, similarly to the rest of Indigo, aided in showcasing RM’s range as a soloist as BTS remains on a hiatus expected to extend through 2025. “I went all the way just to release these 10 tracks and 10 colors out of my soul and out of my ego,” he said of the record. “This time I finally could show the world what’s really inside me and what I wanted to do.”