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Celebrating BTS' sweetheart Suga: Rapper, producer, prodigy

Min Yoongi, better known by his stage name "Suga," is not only a renowned member of K-pop boyband BTS, but is a gifted rapper, producer and songwriter — all the more reason to love him! – Photo by BTS Official / Twitter

There are many reasons I could give as to why I love Min Yoongi, aka Suga of BTS — his gummy smile, his dry sense of humor or his compassion for the other six members. But for me personally, his most notable characteristic is his dedication to music.

As early as 13 years old, Suga began writing songs and later became involved in the underground rap scene in his hometown of Daegu, South Korea. He eventually signed with Big Hit Entertainment in 2010 as a music producer, only to later be recruited as a member of a group that would eventually become BTS. 

From the group’s earliest days, Suga was heavily involved in the writing and production process for their discography and, through his work in BTS as well as a solo artist, he has amassed more than 100 songs attributed to him through the Korea Music Copyright Association. 

Suga’s commitment to making music continuously amazes me. Aside from producing, he can play piano — an instrument he wrote a love song for — and has begun learning guitar. He writes songs for the other members in his free time for them to use in their solo projects. He even goes so far as to take his recording equipment with him on vacation!

“I don’t really write songs because I think I should,” he confessed. “When I’m too bored, I just think that there’s nothing to do but write songs.”

In honor of Suga’s 28th birthday on Tuesday and his achievements in music so far, here are a few (okay, maybe more than a few) of his best works:

His music with BTS 

Suga’s songwriting is often introspective, documenting his personal struggles and the challenges BTS faced as a group during their earliest days.

Many of his songs, such as tracks like "Tomorrow" or "Intro: Never Mind" detail the difficulties young people face when working toward their dreams. As he matured, songs like "Interlude: Shadow" reflect on the dreams of his younger self, and how he is now discovering the darker sides to fame.

Other songs written by Suga, including "Autumn Leaves," "Let Me Know" and "Outro: Tear," beautifully describe the confusion, anger and sadness that comes from failing relationships. "Outro: Tear" in particular was not inspired by romance, but Suga’s connection to the rest of the members in a period where they nearly disbanded.

“When I was writing the melody, at the time, we were deeply contemplating whether we should quit or not,” Suga said. “When I played the song for the members, we all cried together.”

On top of writing some of BTS’s most thoughtful, poetic songs, Suga has also produced some absolute bangers, with some of my favorites including "Boyz with Fun," "Jump," his solo track "Trivia: Seesaw" and most recently, "Telepathy." Some of his best verses can be seen on the four BTS cyphers and tracks like "UGH!"

His solo music as Agust D

As a solo artist under the name Agust D, Suga is best known for the record-breaking track "Daechwita" — the title itself being the name of traditional Korean music played in military processions.

The song and music video both seamlessly incorporate Korean cultural motifs with modernity, with Suga rapping over traditional music, wearing hanbok (traditional Korean clothing) with Nike sneakers, doing everything from sword dances to doing donuts in a car. 

His most stunningly honest song is "The Last," which discusses his experiences with depression and social anxiety, driven by his ascent to fame. In the context of an industry that expects celebrities to embody perfection, and in a country where mental health is continuously stigmatized, being open about mental illness is an act of bravery and can inspire others to take similar issues seriously.

Suga’s solo discography, which currently includes his self titled mixtape and “D-2,” touches on a number of other topics: tracks like “724148” and “Strange” ft. his bandmate, RM, offer social critiques on consumerism, while “Dear my friend” ft. Kim Jong Wan tells the story of a friend who struggled with addiction. Meanwhile, my personal favorites, “People” and “Moonlight," show his more mellow side and his shift from rapping toward vocals. 

Collaborations 

Aside from the number of artists featured on the two Agust D mixtapes, Suga has worked with a number of artists, with K-Pop singer Suran’s "Wine" being the first song he produced outside of his own work.

Since then he has produced or written songs for Korean artists like Heize, IU, Lee So-ra and Epik High (the group that Suga credits as his inspiration for pursuing music) and is also featured on "SUGA’s Interlude" by Halsey as well as "Blueberry Eyes" by MAX.

With such an impressive career, it’s impossible not to wonder what’s next on Suga’s agenda. He has always been the BTS member to shyly (or maybe not so shyly) suggest his desire for the group to win a Grammy, a monumental achievement which could come true this Sunday.

He has also hinted at the possibility of a third Agust D mixtape and his desire to broaden his horizons musically, experimenting with different genres and sounds. 

Time and time again, Suga has defied the norms of what a K-pop idol should be through his honesty, perseverance and musical excellency. His music, which candidly addresses some of life’s greatest challenges, has brought comfort to millions of fans — including myself.

And it’s clear that he has no intention of stopping any time soon.

“I'm eager to continue doing music,” he said. “I talked with legendary singers as well as people who are my contemporaries. Talking with them once again made me realize that I love music so much. Because music is my profession, I can’t imagine myself not doing it. I'm grateful that there are still unvisited areas in the world of music.”


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