The seven–member supergroup has returned. BTS, the internationally renowned Korean band famous for hit singles such as “Idol”, “Fake Love”, and “DNA”, is back with their sixth EP, Map of the Soul: Persona. Announced last month and released ten months after their last studio album, Love Yourself: Tear, the EP is a 26–minute journey through topics such as self–esteem, love, and support. The fact that BTS fluently conveys their message in every song is a testament to their skill.
The record opens with “Intro: Persona”, a solo rap by group leader RM. The rapper delivers a mesmerizing rapid–fire verse over a thumping guitar–based hip hop beat as he analyzes themes such as existentialism and personal flaws before coming to accept them. With introspective content presented in such a compelling manner, the intro sets the tone for the rest of the EP.
The next song, “Boy with Luv”, is more of a classic pop anthem. Featuring American singer Halsey, the members take turns exhibiting their vocal talent as they wax about the strength of love. Add in the buoyant, bouncing instrumental, and “Boy with Luv” becomes a piece to rock to all summer.
“Mikrokosmos” serves as an emotional journey that celebrates individuality despite the insignificance of humanity in the grand scope of the universe. Jimin and Jungkook nail a neatly layered chorus as the production generates a vibe reminiscent of stargazing on a clear night. As a whole, the piece repeats the EP's theme of self–perception once more.
The following track, “Make It Right,” is written by English singer Ed Sheeran. With a peaceful synth–based beat, the members croon about bettering relationships. J–Hope and RM stand out in particular with a smooth transition from the former’s pleasant singing to the latter’s heartfelt rap verse.
Like its preceding track, “Home” is more of a relaxed piece, but acts as a sweet tribute to the group’s fans, who serve as their “home.” Jimin and V sing beautifully in a higher register, letting the falsetto capture the depth of their emotions. The ensuing song, “Jamais Vu”, is a subunit song featuring Jungkook, Jin, and J–Hope as they sing about wishing to save a personal relationship. Full of angst and pain, the singers tie their experience to the notion of jamais vu, which refers to the idea that an event should feel familiar, but seems foreign nonetheless. It's the antithesis of déjà vu, once again reflecting the EP's overarching focus on cognition about the outside world.
As a finale, “Dionysius” is a grandiose ending to Map of the Soul: Persona. With a hard–hitting drum beat, the members trade rap verses about apathy towards criticism of their luxurious lifestyle, evoking the image of the titular Greek god. It’s a party banger befitting the conclusion of the EP, while also representing the members' final summation of their sense of self.
Map of the Soul: Persona is a must–listen for K–pop heads, but its appeal extends to all music fans, blending pop and hip hop in a masterful manner while dealing with topics of personal depth and intellect. With their sixth EP, BTS has solidified their status as a world–class act.