082316_seoulbeats_agustd_albumcoverAfter waiting two years, ARMYs can finally experience Suga’s mixtape. And boy, was it worth the wait. From diss tracks, to deeply personal songs, Agust D covers ground that seasoned artists have a hard time covering.

Suga gets right to the intensity with “Agust D” and “Give It to Me.” These two aren’t the hardest hitting tracks on the mixtape, but they are the most definitely diss tracks. In “Agust D,” Suga brags about BTS‘s success, calling out his haters, and boasting that K-pop can’t contain his skill. It’s filled with clever wordplay and even samples “It’s a Man’s Man’s World” by James Brown. In one specific call-out, he raps, “The majority of weak-ass rappers should be thankful I’m an idol.” He’s being bold and confident and it shines through the most in this track. In a particularly wonderful bit of wordplay, the chorus spelling out his moniker goes:

A to the G to the U to the STD
A to the G to the U to the STD
A to the G to the U to the STD
my tongue technology sends you to Hong Kong

The reference to Hong Kong is about bringing his listeners to orgasm and also a direct reference one of his lyrics from “Cypher prt 3: Killer.” It also pairs nicely with the ending of the previous lines; spelling his name out so “STD” is next to each other is definitely intentional. Not only is he telling us how good he is with his tongue, he’s also getting people to shout “STD” along to the music. My favorite section of the song, by far, is when he apologizes sarcastically about how great he is. Not only does he tell his competitors that their only asset is their health, he also tells them to switch careers. He pulls no punches in “Agust D” and keeps them coming in “Give It to Me.”

“Give It to Me” talks more about Suga’s success and how it surprised everyone around him. He raps about how he can’t explain how he became such a success except that, “during that short time I slept less than you and moved more and grew.” He talks about how he only wants whatever is good during the chorus, telling the listener to bring it on. He once again calls out those who doubt him or have negative things to say about his abilities by rapping:

You just fight all amongst yourselves
Yeah, like that, you fuckers, like that, you’re all idiots
Whether you’re a waste of space or a weakling
I don’t even have interest in your dick so please keep living like that

It’s hard to not feel bad for whoever Suga is talking about during those lines. It’s harsh and when you listen to it, it’s difficult to not cringe for them. On top of that, he talks about how he was born a tiger so he’s not going to live like a dog and if that doesn’t demonstrate how Suga really feels, there’s not much else that will. Even the backing track for “Give It to Me” reinforces his harsh words. With heavy claps and an almost ever present sound that can only be described as chains clanging together, the backing beat is relentless. It sounds like a more aggressive version of E-40‘s hyphy hit “Tell Me When to Go.” They even share the same self-appraising attitude.

After a short skit featuring his older brother, 082316_seoulbeats_bts_suga_dubaiSuga delves into more personal topics. Starting with “724148,” a reference to the buses Suga rode as a trainee, he starts opening up to the listener about his trainee days, his struggles, and the anxiety and depression he suffered from. He talks about how his parents disapproved of his desire to pursue music, how he moved to Seoul to pursue his dream.

Suga goes into detail about his many part-time jobs just to make ends meet. He does not ask for pity or sympathy; these songs are his way of telling his story so people understand. Suga raps quickly in the style that he’s known for, letting all his past pains come to light. All the doubt and uncertainty that he felt during those days are critically analyzed through Suga’s blunt words. Reading the lyrics to both “The Last” and “140503 At Dawn” feels like reading from his diary. They’re both incredibly upfront about how he struggled (and maybe still struggles) with social anxiety and depression. He makes multiple references to how dealing with this affected him in his lyrics; in “The Last” he raps during one of the verses:

Sometimes I’m afraid of myself, thanks to my self-hatred
And the depression that came to play again
Min Yoongi is already dead (I killed him)
It’s been a long time since my everyday life became killing my passions and comparing myself with others

His pain and frustration comes through the lyrics; just like in his diss tracks, he doesn’t pull any punches. Like Rap Monster‘s mixtape, he’s open and honest about the mental illness he had to deal with. Suga lets us see a bit more behind the curtain of his idol image.

Suga talks frequently about his fear that his drive and ambition will turn him into a monster, that he’s being too greedy and that will ultimately lead to his downfall. It fits perfectly with his openness about anxiety and depression. “The Last” and “Tony Montana” delve into those themes. While “The Last” has Suga rapping about his success and even makes a reference to suicide, “Tony Montana” uses the main character of Scarface to show parallels between Suga and that iconic character. Tony Montana is a ever present character in hip hop; Suga isn’t the first rapper to draw comparisons between himself and the role. The American rapper Future also has a song called “Tony Montana” but it’s a completely different song. Suga focuses more on how Tony Montana had to work and was disrespected by some of the people he was working for. Yes, he had success and money, but it’s not happiness. Suga very clearly says this when he raps:

Success and happiness, same but different
My weakness is wanting more success
More riches and an even bigger honor
Money wants to chase me, I hope I won’t become a monster who chases money

He once again brings up his fear of his drive and ambition swallowing him. It’s interesting to hear about Suga’s feelings about his success. He’s proud of what he’s accomplished, that’s definitely clear, but to hear about his hesitance and worry over whether or not he is focused on the right things is interesting. He is allowing fans to see more of who he is and it humanizes him. It makes this mixtape even more incredible than it already is.

20151125_seoulbeats_bts_sugaThe music itself is pure hip hop. While Suga has not spoken about who and what influenced him while creating these songs, his respect and love of the genre is very clear. A lot of the tracks feel like southern and old school hip hop. Even when he’s working with more contemporary styles like trap, it is uniquely his own. There is no doubt that Suga appreciates the artists who helped originate the genre which is refreshing when hip hop is so frequently just a concept for idols to try on and wear for a time. Each song was produced and composed by him; every little detail on the tracks are well thought out.

Suga has called himself a genius and his other members have mentioned that he is a perfectionist, and this mixtape is proof. It’s hard to find any fault when it’s astonishingly well-crafted. If I’m being nitpicky, my only criticism lies with the intro for the mixtape. Yes, it’s an interesting mix of “Agust D,” but it doesn’t add anything new. It also is not the most interesting way to introduce the tracks, especially when “Agust D” begins in an almost identical fashion.

Suga’s first mixtape Agust D is an excellent first solo album. While ARMYs already knew his talent, getting to hear a self-produced album with such meaningful lyrics only cements Suga’s place as one of K-pop’s reigning rappers. His open and honest lyrics will surely touch his fans and his impactful wordplay will win him new fans.

What did you think of Suga’s first mixtape? What was your favorite track?

Album: 5/5

(Sources: papercrowns; Images: BigHit)