Music

Is BTS Low Quality Music?

Recently, I saw a DKDKTV video in my feed that grabbed my attention. It was called “BTS is Low Quality Music”. Of course, I couldn’t scroll on by after that. I had to see what this was about. The video was an answer to Parkgaedae’s video “BTS is McDonald’s” (which he has since deleted). His premise is that like McDonald’s, BTS is very popular but they produce low quality music.

Now, before I begin I would like to preface a few things: #1 I’m an American (African-American to be exact) and I have never been to South Korea before. #2 I’m an ARMY, I’ve been a fan of BTS for about 1.5 years (I’m multifandom, so I stan a lot of groups). #3 I don’t know any Hangul (my little sister can read and write it), I know a few words in Korean but I don’t speak the language.

I tried to approach this video in a logical way instead of just saying “BTS is amazing and you’re a hater!” I tried to figure out Parkgaedae’s arguments and look at his and DKDKTV’s premises.

His first argument was that people think BTS’ music is catchy, they’re handsome, and nice but their music is low quality. Now, I didn’t get to watch the original video because it was taken down, but in the clips that DKDTV referenced, he never defined “low quality music”. David (from DKDKTV) talked about how Kpop has a reputation for being “fast food music” essentially mass-produced and “factory made”. I understand how you could think this if you only listen to the catchy choruses of comeback tracks that are released twice as often as western artists. But if you look at the song credits and see how many Kpop artists are producing they’re own music, if you examine the lyrical genius, and observe a studio recording session of a kpop group, I believe your “fast food music” mentality might be changed a little.

Particularly BTS, if you’ve ever watched RM’s Vlives where he breaks down the album in his studio: recounting writing processes, funny production moments, and exclusive demo tracks, then you would see all the care that they put into their music. I’m assuming Parkgaedae is not an ARMY and I wonder if he’s ever asked any of us why we like BTS. Because he seems to think that it’s only because we “think they’re handsome and nice” which is a factor, but at least for me, it’s more about how much they’ve impacted the world and individuals with their message. It’s about how they’ve taken their pain and struggle, worked hard and risen to fame, yet still stayed humble and appreciative. It’s about how they create amazing music about real issues and encourage people to love themselves.

Parkgaedae’s next point was that Koreans have immense national pride in BTS and it’s displaced. He referenced the fact that the first thing Korean people mention to his American friends is BTS and their place on the Billboard Charts. He (and his American friends) are rather disgusted that a country would be so proud of a boy group.

Danny (from DKDKTV) agrees that it’s irritating to him (as a Korean) to hear Koreans always asking foreigners if they know BTS, Gangnam Style, Park Jisung (soccer player) etc. David pointed out that if it’s the easiest thing to talk about or have in common: whatever thing your country’s known for. Parkgaedae likened it to him as an American talking about how amazing McDonald’s is. Mentioning how far it’s spread across the world and how many people consume it. That “feeling is what a lot of foreigners get when Koreans take a bunch of pride in BTS.”

What I think Parkgaedae missed in his analogy is that we as Americans don’t HAVE to do that to feel like we matter as a country. We take for granted that the rest of the world looks up to us, we assume that they consume American food, music, and products. We assume that we’re the most important on the world stage so we don’t even try to find common ground. (Please note that I’m not saying all Americans believe this and I’m also not saying that every country “looks up to us”, I’m simply saying that seems to be a prevailing mindset among the general American public.)

When you’re excited about something, you tend to mention it as much as you can. Think about those recently engaged people who talk about their ring, engagement story, and wedding plans every time they have an opportunity. Listeners understand this because it’s exciting and it’s new, it’s something to be proud of. Another possible component to nationalistic pride in BTS is the feeling to have to prove oneself or country. If you’re a part of a minority group you’ve probably experienced the feeling of standing in a room where you had to prove you are good enough. Having to have something in common with the majority culture and show that your culture can “hang with the cool kids”. This is something that Parkgaedae probably has a hard time fathoming as a white American male, because his culture is the dominant one. If you’re a minority and a person or thing that is appreciated in general society comes from your culture, you generally want to leverage that. It’s interesting to me how it seems the majority of the people upholding the rhetoric of “you’re talking about Black Panther too much or you shouldn’t take pride in BTS” are white males.

Parkgaedae’s final point is that Koreans should take national pride in Hangul instead. They should be proud of this amazing alphabet that is beautiful and systematic rather than promoting a pop boy group. While I agree that Hangul is amazing (it seems so organized and efficient but also gorgeous to write) and should get more love, I have an issue with this point. Rather than making a video about how cool Hangul is and how it deserves more recognition, he comes off as a bully telling another ethnicity and country what they should and should not take pride in. Somehow he thinks it’s his place to dictate how people should show their pride in and admiration of their own culture. The fact that he’s telling Koreans what they should promote/be proud of rather than telling other cultures/people groups about this cool thing and promoting it himself seems like a very backwards thing to do. I believe he partly did this to get views: make a video bashing BTS in order to get millions to watch it, but since he removed the video, he probably wasn’t prepared for the response.

The final thing I want to say is in agreement with David. BTS is one of the biggest promoters of Korea to the world (at least from my American point of view). They’re part of the reason that my sister is and I want to learn Hangul and Korean, they’re part of the reason I’ve research the politics and history of South Korea, how I know what hanbok is and even some Korean recipes. They’ve used Korean traditional music in songs that have taken over the charts, spoken in Korean at major awards shows, and promoted a message to the world that South Korea can be proud of. Like their music or not, their impact is undeniable, as evidenced by their winning the Korean Order of Cultural Merit for “outstanding meritorious services in the fields of culture and art in the interest of promoting the national culture and national development.”

Stay fly,

~Akilah

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Life · Palates · travel

Pho, Boba + Kpop Debates

You know a restaurant is a hit when you drive to a whole ‘nother city just to eat there again. Originally, we went to Chopstix because my sister was craving bubble tea. But at Chopstix we got so much more than just boba. When we first walked in, the cutest fish tank stood by the door. Instead of fish, though, it held pretty succulents and cacti. Further in, there was a lightbox with the name of the restaurant spelled out.

When we were seated, the party next to us was having a heated debate. They asked us what we thought, “BTS or EXO?” My sister, wearing her Love Yourself Tear t-shirt firmly defended Bangtan Soyeondan. But while I love BTS, I of course had to defend EXO. Honestly, meeting other kpop fans was a great way to start our meal: we debated over the most attractive member of Got7 and Seventeen vs. Wanna One.

Finally, we began to peruse our menus. I settled on Chicken Pho, my dad ordered Shrimp Pho, my mom chose Basil Fried Rice, and my sister selected Beef Bibimbap. And of course we all ordered tea, I chose the Café Mocha Milk Tea with boba.

They make the tea fresh and let me tell you, it’s the best bubble tea I’ve ever had. The Café Mocha had a subtle coffee flavor, but nothing overpowering. It wasn’t too sweet and of course the packaging was adorable.

My pho was pho-nomenal! So warm and flavorful and I was really feeling the ginormous bowl it came in. I also tasted some of my sister’s leftover bibimbap and it was spectacular. The perfect ratio of spiciness and the rice was cooked perfectly.

We all had such a satisfying experience, we actually drove back to Chattanooga to return to Chopstix. This time I ordered Beef Crispy Noodles and Lavender Bubble Tea. At first, I was unsure about the crispy noodles because they were the texture of wontons. I wasn’t convinced that I wanted to eat a huge plate of that texture, but the vegetables and meat were so delicious I couldn’t stop eating even if I had wanted to. Then I figured out that if I mixed the noodles into the broth, they softened to a more preferred texture. The dish was amazing and the leftovers were even better the next day.

My lavender tea was spectacular. It had a definite lavender flavor but it wasn’t medicinal. I honestly love this restaurant so much. From the décor to the service (we had amazing waiters/waitresses’ both times) and of course the food. Everything was perfect and I would fully recommend it!

Stay fly,

~Akilah

What’s a restaurant you’d drive to another city for?

Music · Pleats

BTS IDOL Fashion Analysis

The final installment of the Love Yourself Series is out! IDOL is amazing, personally I like it even better than Fake Love and DNA (I still love those songs though). Today, we’re going to talk about the symbolism and themes exemplified in the fashion of this video.

I did a similar thing with Fake Love and since I had a ball writing and researching for it, we’re doing it again!

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As I watched this the first time, I definitely got Afro pop vibes from it, and this was shown in the suits they wore in the opening and closing shots. The slim fit, bright colors, and busy patterns scream Nigerian street style. I totally dig it since it’s something unlike what BTS has done in the past.

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They cut to a scene where the members are decked out in khaki colored outfits. It reminded me of a safari…but like a high fashion safari. The monochromatic color palette contrasts starkly with the vibrant suits, possibly showing the constrains that society has put on BTS (and everyone). That scene is rather bland, showing the way being in the spotlight can water down one’s personality.

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During Yoongi’s verse, he wears a sweater with Snow White on it. In the Brother’s Grimm version of Snow White, the evil queen has a mirror which she asks continually who the fairest in the land is. When the answer is Snow White she flies into a fit of rage and attempts to kill Snow White. This sweater seems to be countering that vain and jealous view of loving yourself demonstrated by the queen, by focusing on Snow White, who wasn’t threatened by the queen and lived her life despite her antagonist’s attacks.

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Speaking of antagonists, J-Hope wears a yellow Bugs Bunny sweater (which I really want btw). Bugs Bunny is infamous for continually outsmarting his antagonists and winning nearly every time. This reference calls back to some earlier lyrics “you can’t stop me from loving myself”, No matter how many times the other characters try to outsmart Bugs, he wins in the end. Just like no matter how many times haters try to get BTS down, they’ll always love themselves in the end.

 

Next let’s talk about Tae. In much of the video he’s spotted in this look:

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Does it remind you of anything?

How about this one from Dope:

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Going from black plastic frames to gold wire ones, shorts to slacks, and a bow tie to necktie show growth and maturation. Even though they’re quite different, these outfits have the same core. Part of loving yourself is allowing yourself to grow yet keeping the core of who you are. Also, the colors of the IDOL look are definitely more vibrant and bright, showing that with growth comes more freedom and confidence.

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Freedom and confidence are huge themes in the fashion of this video. The bold mixture of prints show a level of “I don’t really care what people say about me, I’m going do what I want.”

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Finally, in one scene, the members are seen sporting long sating robes and loose-fitting ensembles. The aesthetic is quite similar to Blood Sweat & Tears with it’s luxury, and Fake Love with it’s saturation and dark hues. Where it differs in a meaningful way is the silhouette: these oversized robes give a feel of relaxation and regality, freedom and confidence. It seems as if BTS is saying: “Yeah, sometimes loving yourself is difficult and dark but guess what, we’re royalty and we’re comfortable with who we are.”

Stay fly,

~Akilah

If you like this post…then ‘like’ this post!

Let me know what you thought of IDOL in the comments.

Follow me on Instagram @theakilah_grace and check out my story for more general fangirling.

 

Sources:

Music · Pleats

My Favorite Dance Practice Outfits

One of the millions of reasons I’m obsessed with Kpop is the fashion. Even when they’re practicing, the outfits rival stage ensembles. So, today I’m sharing  5 of my favorite dance practice outfits. Please keep in mind that these are in no particular order and there’s certainly many more than five, but we’d be here all night if I went through all of them. Also, appreciate my screenshotting skills because I tried hard for you guys.

 

Jungkook – 뱁새 (Baepsae/Silver Spoon)

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Perfection in fabric, that’s what this outfit is. The cut of the jeans is quite unexpected in a world of skinny jeans. The white button down riffs on that classic work-wear silhouette but looks breezier. And JK’s beloved Timbs truly pull together the look.

 

Minghao (The8) – Crazy in Love

I’m not always a fan of extremely long t-shirts like this one, but Minghao makes it work. The proportions are balanced because of his fitted joggers, and while I’m not a huge fan of his socks being pulled up so far, it does keep the look more streamlined. Unfortunately, I can’t for the life of me, find this shirt. I’m in love with the way it looks and wanted to see the smaller print of what it says. So, if you happen to find some details, let me know in the comments!

 

Lucas – Boss

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I almost did TY’s outfit from Boss, and while it is sensational, Lucas’ outfit really draws me. It’s simple: a white long-sleeve, black jeans, gold chain, and Adidas, but it’s styled so expertly. The top is tucked into the jeans and the jeans are belted, the gold chain is an excellent touch and the shoes tie in the sleek black and white color palette.

 

Sehun – The Eve

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Again, while simple, this outfit makes a big impact. The wash of the jeans are that perfect medium denim and offer nice contrast to the black hat, tee, and shoes.

 

Jin – Blood Sweat & Tears

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Black on black looks *NCT plays in the background* are a staple in dance practices but Jin brings it to another level. Although it’s a button-down, the shirt doesn’t have a stiff quality, but rather hangs perfectly relaxed. Because this look is so sleek, I appreciate the minimalism of the one hole in the black jeans. Also, it looks like his shoes are suede, which brings in an unexpected texture. This outfit contrasts amazingly with Jin’s pink hair…it’s just a whole look.

 

Let me know what your favorite dance practice fits are!

Stay fly,

~Akilah

 

Life

Currently: Love Yourself: Answer & Rose Gold Converse

Heyyyyyy,

I’m sorry that I’ve been gone for a while. I have a few dope posts in the works so stay tuned for those. In the meantime…here’s what I’m currently doing:

Watching: The K-drama Miss Hammurabi. It’s probably my favorite drama so far (I don’t know though Andante and Hwarang were great too…) But anyway, we’re on episode 13 of 16 and it’s the perfect mix of emotion, humor, and politics. I’m super fascinated by the look at Korean society and their justice system.

Listening: To Mahalia’s I Wish I Missed My Ex and Years & Years’ Don’t Panic. They’re amazing songs you should listen too!

Reading: The Autobiography of Malcolm X, which they think I’ve stolen from the library because I’ve had it for so long…

Wearing: My new rose gold Converse

Looking Forward: To my new phone coming tomorrow!

Excited: For BTS’ Love Yourself: Answer (yep, I pre-ordered it!) Let me know in the comments what songs you predict will be on the album.

Stay fly,

Akilah

Music

Favorite Albums of 2018 (So Far)

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In which I fulfill my dream of being a music writer, and share my favorite albums of 2018’s first half in no particular order…

Positive

Artist: Pentagon

Genres: Kpop; Khip-hop

Release Date: April 2

Favorite Tracks: Do it for Fun; Shine; Off-Road

In the past, I’ve never been able to fall in love with Pentagon’s B-side tracks, and thus the rest of their albums. Although their title tracks always stand out I’ve been underwhelmed by the rest of the songs. Positive changed that. Each and every song on this album is magical, from the infectious and high-energy Shine, to the gritty hip-hop line’s Do it for Fun, to the acoustic choir infused Let’s Do it Together and every track in between. It’s an all around good-feeling album that explores a plethora of different sounds.

The Kids Are Alright

Artist: Chloe X Halle

Genres: R&B; Indie

Release Date: March 23

Favorite Tracks: Happy Without Me; Baby on a Plane; Fake

I’ve been a fan of this sister duo since they were doing covers on YouTube. Now that they’ve released an EP, mixtape, and now full-length studio album under Beyoncé’s Parkwood Entertainment, I can say I’m still a fan. We are graced with Chloe’s melodiously deep alto and Halle’s piercingly bright soprano that compliment each other so well. The Kids Are Alright is an album that’s decidedly Generation Z. Rather than fitting into the mold of traditional R&B, it dips into Indie, Hip-Hop, and even Rock at some points. Lyrically, Chloe x Halle exemplify our upcoming generation with lyrics that moan about a broken society but ultimately believe that “there are still cool people in the world”.

 

Blooming Days

Artist: EXO-CBX

Genres: Kpop; Kr&b

Release Date: April 10

Favorite Tracks: Sweet Dreams; Thursday; Blooming Day

Chen, Baekhyun, and Xiumin have been a dynamic trio since the beginning of EXO’s first sub-unit. Blooming Days, however, really drives home just how much musical chemistry they have. The album’s days-of-the-week concept is fresh without feeling contrived and the decidedly R&B direction feels just right for this sub-unit. There are slow melancholy tracks like Monday, sweet laid back tracks like Playdate, and of course those classic EXO flirty numbers like Blooming Day and Vroom Vroom. Each member gets to shine in his own unique way and we get a front-row seat to see who EXO-CBX truly is.

 

Lost & Found

Artist: Jorja Smith

Genres: R&B; Soul

Release Date: June 8

Favorite Tracks: Teenage Fantasy; Blue Lights; Don’t Watch Me Cry

When I first heard Jorja Smith’s voice I was instantly hooked on her deep soulful tone. Her music reminded me of Adele’s: longing, mournful, and tinged with heartbreak. But it was charged with wokeness and social commentary. Lost & Found continues in that vein. But not only do we hear her beautiful tones we hear expert lyricism especially in her Lifeboats Freestyle. Each track is unique in it’s lyrics and music but they paint a cohesive picture because of the longing that is evident in each. Longing for lost love, satisfying truth, and a just world.

 

Love Yourself Tear

Artist: BTS

Genres: Kpop; Kr&b; Khip-hop

Release Date: May 18

Favorite Tracks: The Truth Untold; Paradise; Anpanman

In this 3rd studio album from BTS we get the best elements of the first two: that hip-hop aggression of Dark & Wild, and that introspective longing of Wings. This album shows the growth of BTS while still staying within that beautiful “Bangtan style”. This is exemplified subtly in how Suga whispers his name before his verses, how the intro track is completely in Korean, and how we have past and current songs connected like Attack on Bangtan and Anpanman. Although this release isn’t a concept album, it still stays committed to it’s theme of exploring the dark side of love. Thus, the album is decidedly darker in tone than Love Yourself: Her, with more of an R&B leaning. It explores Latin pop sounds in Airplane pt. 2, a tasteful use of autotune in Outro: Tear, and bumping electronic beats in Paradise. Tear also provides a space for every single member to shine, I definitely hear the vocalists’ growth in conveying emotion, and the rappers’ growth in embracing and honing their distinct style. Lyrically, BTS uses inspiration from folklore, fairytales, and personal experiences to craft a world in which we can loose ourselves.

 

Check out the playlist here:

Stay fly,

~Akilah

 

 

Music · Pleats

Shopping Kpop Idol Closets

I know that almost every post has been kpop and fashion related lately but, I’m just in a mood right now so I hope you like it!

So, contrary to the title I actually didn’t get to shop in an idol’s closet but if you’re an idol reading this hit me up. Instead, this is a wishlist of things that I would steal if I happened to be best friends with some of the biggest names in Kpop right now. Also, all of these are from boy groups because, as you know if you’ve been following me for a while, I only stan boy groups. Plus, I just like that aesthetic a little more. So, here are the items I would cop:

Minghao’s “Something & Associate” hoodie

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To be honest I’d take every hoodie in the kpop industry but I especially like this one because it’s just fun. Also, the classic black and white is perfect.

 

Taehyung’s orange belt

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This belt would add spice to so many different outfits, I especially envision it with a white button down, white jeans, and white sneakers and this belt for a pop of color.

 

Shownu’s “Art is Fraudulent” t-shirt

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The message on this shirt reminds me of how people will try to control messages by censoring art because it’s dangerous. Art is fraudulent/deceptive sometimes in it’s beauty and it’s importance because it’s world-changing. I tried not to start preaching about art. Anyway, I love this shirt, send it to me please.

 

Who knows, maybe my next post won’t be Kpop or fashion related?

Stay fly,

~Akilah