[Review] Agust D (BTS’s Suga) delivers an irresistible mesh of traditional & contemporary with “Daechwita”

Almost four years ago, BTS‘s Suga dropped his first mixtape, the self-titled Agust D. It was certainly impressive in some aspects but sonically I wasn’t as deeply enamored with it as many seemed to be. Fortunately, it seems like with “Daechwita” and D-2, Suga has found something that clicks on all cylinders.

As many know I’m a sucker for most things that mesh traditional Asian instrumentation with modern trends, but trap isn’t usually in my wheelhouse. That concern abated quickly as Agust D didn’t settle into anything laid back and simplistic that many others do (and that I loathe), but instead showcased switches in flows with his rapping that was impressive in itself, and also transitioned in and out of aggression throughout for impactful moments that related to the lyrics.

The instrumental features a personal favorite in the taepyeongso (used brilliantly in Drunken Tiger‘s “Yet), but also the kkwaenggwari and pansori make appearances to start and sorta set the tone, which shouldn’t surprise for a song titled “Daechwita”. The traditional sounds are elements that I tend to enjoy because they always bring something unique to the music that you literally don’t hear elsewhere. Much to my surprise, the snare actually meshes well with all this and the combination provides a foundation that, with the booming base, powers the song forward to match Agust D’s energy.

“Daechwita” hits the listener with the chorus immediately, and it’s a great choice that establishes the hype, anthemic nature of it, and it’s a great fit for a rap song with this type of edge to it. No fancy vocal or drop or anything like that, just impactful repetition that certainly makes it memorable and assists in maintaining a certain rawness to the whole package that really worked.

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The music video is a standout in its own right, from the staging to the costumes to the themes. Straight out of a historical drama, it depicts the past class system and it matches well with some of the lyrics about his come up. Speaking of the devil, the lyrics are mostly amazing, featuring some great lines (“who says time is money, my time is worth more than that“), as well as connecting broader themes throughout. While I’m not totally clear if he had any specific target or targets in mind with some of the more pointed jabs — like “pathetic fucks putting on a talent show, not gonna lie what a shitshow” — rap reality shows immediately came to mind. Though I also think it’s likely intentionally a bit ambiguous to allow people to project that emotion onto whoever or whatever they feel like.

Suffice to say I enjoyed “Daechwita”, both for its standalone musical efforts and for the throwback to what made BTS’s music so appealing to begin with. I’ve felt in recent years that a lot of the edge and rawness seemed to be fading away (no, “MIC Drop” doesn’t count), but this was Agust D snapping everybody back to reality with a reminder that this side is still in there, and I’m glad that the wake-up call came with such a well-rounded musical effort to back it.

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TheBiasList thought it was a bit repetitive, with the caveat that hip-hop isn’t his forte.

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