It’s no secret that superstar group BTS is in the process of taking the world by storm with their music. With their recent award win for “Top Social Artist” at the Billboard Music Awards, BTS has seen their fandom grow by the day due to the exposure. Newer fans may not be familiar with the group’s older work, but they’ve got quite a few gems even amongst their early albums!
Unlike the hard-hitting rap tracks featured in their first single album 2 cool 4 skool, “좋아요” (roughly translated to “I Like It”) has a smoother and softer beat that takes more influence from R&B sounds than the traditional rap influences of “No More Dream” and “We Are Bulletproof Pt. 2.” The song is a longtime favorite of most ARMYs, who are enchanted by a young Jungkook’s stunning vocals and a rare verse where rapper J-Hope openly sings. The song is a refreshing change from their title tracks and shows BTS’s musical versatility.
팔도강산 Satoori Rap
Off of the severely underrated first mini-album O!RUL8,2?, “팔도강산 Satoori Rap” is a rapper-exclusive track that highlights the talents of members Rap Monster, J-Hope, and Suga. For those who don’t know, “satoori” roughly translates to natural dialect or accent from a certain area of Korea.
The backing track is a fresh, jazzy beat that drives the energy of each rapper’s verse. J-Hope hails from Gwangju, with Jeolla dialect, while Suga specializes in Daegu satoori, also known as Gyeongsang dialect. Leader Rap Monster is a native of Seoul, which is generally accepted to not carry a satoori accent in comparison to other cities. What’s especially cool about this song is that it gives a chance for the boys’ origins to shine amongst a music industry that usually attempts to rid idols from outside of Seoul of their natural dialect. Not to mention it has quite an intoxicating beat.
Another gem that can be found on O!RUL8,2? is the 90’s rap influenced track “We On.” While the song tends to fit the tough rapper aesthetic that the group aimed for during their debut, the hook of the song comes during the chorus, which intersperses vocals among the intense rap verses. Overall, the song is very smooth and has a chill and badass vibe that isn’t always heard amongst high energy rap tracks. There’s no denying the talent the rappers bring to this group.
From the 2nd mini-album Skool Luv Affair comes the masterpiece that is “Tomorrow.” All my Suga composer bias aside (I can make a case without invoking my love for him, I promise), “Tomorrow” not only has an extremely catchy beat, but it also carries an extremely beautiful sentiment that you almost never find in K-Pop songs. The song contains a message of hope amongst a world full of darkness and depression, the kind of thing that is often stigmatized not only in Korea, but around the world. For that reason alone, I would have been inclined to include this song on the list, but it also has an amazing beat accompanied by amazing vocals from Jungkook, Jimin, V, and Jin. With strength in its words and composition, this song had the potential to be a very successful title track.
등골브레이커 Spine Breaker
Please, do yourself a favor and watch their self-directed music video I provided you with below. I promise you will not be disappointed.
That humor aside, “등골브레이커 Spine Breaker” is quite a banger provided on mini-album Skool Luv Affair. Because the song draws inspiration from reggae, it stands out against a lot of the other productions the group has put out. V’s deep vocals that often are not heard complement the melody stunningly well, and the shift in J-Hope’s verse is guaranteed to hype you up to another level.