For a 17-year-old, D.Ark has been through a lot (and that’s an understatement). In the short span of four years, he experienced a sudden shot to fame in Show Me The Money 7, a scandal that garnered heated criticism, and recently, a booming comeback in the music scene after he signed with PNation and clinched third place in High School Rapper 4.

As the title track for his first EP, “Genius” shows just how far D.Ark has come from that fearless, fiery young boy he is known as in Show Me The Money 7. While his characteristic overconfidence has mellowed around its rough edges, his energetic playfulness still remains in “Genius”, showcasing both his personality and maturity.

The message of the song is simple—”I’m a genius”. This song is an obvious flex, but instead of the typical flexing about riches, which would risk coming across as obnoxious for a 17-year-old, D.Ark boasts about his talents instead: from the way he varies his flow in the rap portions, to putting together a cohesive performance with his polished dance and singing during the bridge. His lyrics are ballsy for a rookie—”I don’t know why but everyone else is so amateur, People say I’m a pro, they don’t flip the channel”, and his sing-song manner of chanting his hook, “I’m a genius”, closely resembles the taunting you would hear on the playground as a child. Such lyrics, coupled with flossing dance moves and a boyish smirk, speak volumes of the confidence that he has.

At the same time, this boasting is balanced with a sense of self-awareness and humility. Instead of boasting about wealth, he says he’s “Working on music in the studio, Locked in, tryna make more dough”, showing his determination to work hard. In spite of his assertion that he’s a genius, he says, “I wanna be the genius recognized by all”, acknowledging that he has yet to win everyone over.

Changmo‘s verse furthers this form of humble flexing. Evoking hyperbole, he boasts foremost about a musician’s skill, saying “Skills borrowed from God himself, it’s a duty to show ’em off”. As much as he wears the self-proclaimed “Born genius” title with pride, he boasts about hard work and frugality, calling himself a “Workaholic” and talks about “Skimpily eating ramen, only to fatten up my wallet”. This nice balance between confidence and self-awareness shows D.Ark’s growth as a musician, and his determination as a rookie musician to grow.

What makes the MV shine the most is D.Ark’s tongue-in-cheek youthfulness shown by its colorful visuals, style, and lyrics. For one, D.Ark’s plentiful costume changes make for an entertaining spectacle while also accentuating the theme of a genius—a golfer that scores a hole-in-one, a chess player, a quiz show winner and a graduate passing the GED. Musically, the hook is addictive and catchy, accentuated by the recurring piano riffs and trendy dance moves.

Lyrically, the nods to the criticism he faced, such as his scandal referenced in “Controversy’s a minus” and “Love’s for fools, Not dating ’til I make it”, as well as his tendency to forget lyrics on survival shows (“oh, I messed up my lyrics, So proud to be your meme, baby”), put a positive spin on what others say about him. He owns everything, and in the most cheeky way possible.

At the end of the day, “Genius” is simply about a teenager having fun, and that’s what makes it fun to watch. D.Ark’s journey with music has faced severe ups and downs, such as his much-anticipated return to Show Me The Money 9 last year which only saddened netizens and producers upon seeing that he had lost his spunk. With his success in High School Rapper 4, “Genius” marks a new era for D.Ark where things are finally looking up. He has returned mellowed and more mature, but still brimming with the youthful confidence that he was known for. Following his determination apparent in the song’s lyrics, it would be interesting to see how else D.Ark will continue to grow as a musician.

(Koreatimes, YouTube [1] [2]. Images via PNation)