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BTS Talk New Album 'Map Of The Soul: 7': "The Genre Is BTS"

BTS

Courtesy: Big Hit Entertainment

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BTS Talk New Album 'Map Of The Soul: 7': "The Genre Is BTS"

The international pop stars discuss the creative process behind their latest release and shine a light on the growing creative community in South Korea

GRAMMYs/Feb 23, 2020 - 01:27 am

International pop stars BTS are used to shattering world records. They've done it time and time again.

In 2018, the septet became the first Korean group to receive gold status from the Recording Industry Association Of America (RIAA), for the Steve Aoki remix of their 2017 track, "Mic Drop," featuring rapper Desiigner. The song, now certified platinum, became the act's first hit in the U.S., setting off an ongoing streak of Stateside hits and world records for the South Korean boyband. That same year, they became the first Korean act to top the Billboard 200 chart with Love Yourself: Tear

BTS are now back to dominate the charts once again with Map Of The Soul: 7. Released just yesterday (Feb. 21), the new album is already the best-selling album of the year worldwide. Another day, another world record in the life of BTS.

Map Of The Soul: 7, BTS' fourth studio full-length to date, is the next installment in the band's ongoing Map Of The Soul series. It picks up from the 2019 chart-topping Map Of The Soul: Persona EP. In addition to featuring songs from the latter, Map Of The Soul: 7 expands on some of the themes and topics from the overall series, including the concepts of persona, shadow and ego. 

"[Map Of The Soul: 7 is a] continuation from the album before, called Persona," BTS member RM tells the Recording Academy. "And this time, we put the other two themes, shadow and ego, and we put it together into [this] album, called 7. The difference is [the] persona, which is like the social mask before the good things that we have, [like] the spotlight. This time [on 7] we talked about the real shades and shadows that we had inside, and also the big manifesto that we admitted: all the shadows as our destinies and we're gonna carry on." 

Sonically, Map Of The Soul: 7 touches on many genres and sounds. Album opener "Intro: Persona" sees RM rapping over a guitar-laced, bossy hip-hop beat, while "Interlude: Shadow," a solo track from BTS member Suga, is an atmospheric pop ballad that converts into an industrial rap monster. 

For the group, Map Of The Soul: 7 breaks free from genre confines once and for all.

"I think it's less and less meaningful to divide music into genres now," Suga says. 

"The genre is BTS. That's the genre we want to make and the music that we want. New genre," the group's Jungkook, V and J-Hope add. 

On the day of the album's release, the Recording Academy caught up with BTS—all seven members!—at the Park Hyatt New York in Midtown Manhattan to discuss the creative process behind and deeper meanings within Map Of The Soul: 7, the group's all-star collaborator wishlist and the growing creative footprint of their South Korean homeland.

This interview was edited for clarity and brevity. An interpreter translated all answers from BTS, except for RM.

Can you talk about the creative process behind Map Of The Soul: 7? How does it differ from the rest of your albums?

Suga: It took us a little longer, and this is our first full album in quite a while. But making an album isn't just making the music. We have the songs, there's the choreography and a lot of other elements that come with it, so it took some time. But once we got started, it really started rolling along and it was really fun. 

The album features individual tracks that highlight traits from each of the seven BTS members. How does the album reflect each individual member? And how does it reflect BTS as a whole? 

Jungkook: I think individually, it really contained what we wanted to put into the music and the ideas that we have, and this is what we put in.

RM: As a group, it's like a big statement or like a manifesto that we finally admitted our shadows and egos at the same time as part of our destiny. So it's like, you're going to carry on and you can bring the pain and we'll carry on.

Map Of The Soul: 7 reflects on the seven years since BTS debuted in 2013. What has been the biggest life and career lessons you've learned so far?

Jin: Thanks to these guys, I think I learned more about music. I didn't really know a lot about music when I started out, but now I've learned how to write music or make melodies. That's what I really got out of the past seven years, thanks to these guys. 

Jungkook: I think I really learned how precious music is, how important it is to me. Recording the music for this album, working on the music—through this whole process, [it was] really fun and meaningful because, again, I kind of learned and figured out how precious music is and how important it is to me.

The new album features collaborations with Halsey and Sia. Who are some other artists you want to collaborate with?

All (shouting out loud): Ariana [Grande], Travis [Scott], Taylor [Swift], Beyoncé, Billie Eilish, Post Malone, "Big" Nas, Lil Nas X!

RM: Call our label, please.

Your music as BTS has touched on many genres, from rap to pop. Are there any other genres or sounds you're interested in exploring in the future?

Suga: I think it's less and less meaningful to divide music into genres now. 

Jungkook, V, J-Hope: The genre is BTS. That's the genre we want to make and the music that we want. New genre.

Map Of The Soul: 7 is a continuation of Map Of The Soul: Persona. How are the two projects related? And how are they different?

RM: Like you said, [Map Of The Soul: 7 is a] continuation from the album before, called Persona. And this time, we put the other two themes, shadow and ego, and we put it together into [this] album, called 7. The difference is [the] persona, which is like the social mask before the good things that we have, [like] the spotlight. This time [on 7] we talked about the real shades and shadows that we had inside, and also the big manifesto that we admitted: all the shadows as our destinies and we're gonna carry on. We put all the three things [together] and made a series.

Watch: Lil Nas X, BTS & Billy Ray Cyrus Enter The "Old Town Road" Multiverse At The 2020 GRAMMYs

The K-pop genre has exploded across the world over the past few years. Where does K-pop go from here? What would you like to see happen for your community?

Suga: As you said, the stature of K-pop has really grown all over the world. But rather than be recognized as the rise of a genre or the rise of K-pop as a genre, I would like more talented Korean artists to be better known around the world, because I think there are a lot of talented Korean artists, and it's really amazing to have this small country and so many talented people coming out of it. That's what I'd like to see.

Speaking of talented Korean artists, how did you feel when Parasite won so many awards at the Oscars this year?

RM: We felt like we won the GRAMMYs. Parasite is a great movie; I also watched it in the cinema. And like Suga said, we just know that there are a lot of talented people in Korea, also including outside K-pop or K-movie or anywhere else. Parasite's honor is our honor, too. We're happy.

Why is K-pop's popularity exploding in the United States?

Find Out Who's Nominated For Best Rap Album | 2020 GRAMMY Awards

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Find Out Who's Nominated For Best Rap Album | 2020 GRAMMY Awards

Dreamville, Meek Mill, 21 Savage, Tyler, The Creator, and YBN Cordae all earn nominations in the category

GRAMMYs/Nov 20, 2019 - 06:28 pm

The 2020 GRAMMYs are just around the corner, and now the nominations are in for the coveted honor of Best Rap Album. While we'll have to wait until the 62nd GRAMMY Awards air on CBS on Jan. 26 to find out who will win, let's take a look at which albums have been nominated for Best Rap Album.

Revenge of the Dreamers III – Dreamville                                                                        

 
This star-studded compilation album from 11-time GRAMMY nominee J. Cole and his Dreamville Records imprint features appearances from some of the leading and fastest-rising artists in hip-hop today, including label artists EARTHGANG, J.I.D, and Ari Lennox, plus rappers T.I, DaBaby, and Young Nudy, among many others. Recorded in Atlanta across a 10-day recording session, Revenge of the Dreamers III is an ambitious project that saw more than 300 artists and producers contribute to the album, resulting in 142 recorded tracks. Of those recordings, 18 songs made the final album, which ultimately featured contributions from 34 artists and 27 producers.

Dreamers III, the third installment in the label’s Revenge of the Dreamers compilation series, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart and achieved gold status this past July. In addition to a Best Rap Album nod, Dreamers III is also nominated for Best Rap Performance next year for album track “Down Bad,” featuring J.I.D, Bas, J. Cole, EARTHGANG, and Young Nudy.

Championships – Meek Mill

In many ways, Championships represents a literal and metaphorical homecoming for Meek Mill. Released in November 2018, Championships is the Philadelphia rapper’s first artist album following a two-year prison sentence he served after violating his parole in 2017. Championships, naturally, sees Meek tackling social justice issues stemming from his prison experience, including criminal justice reform. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, his second chart-topper following 2015’s Dreams Worth More Than Money, and reached platinum status in June 2019. Meek Mill's 2020 Best Rap Album nod marks his first-ever GRAMMY nomination.

i am > i was – 21 Savage

Breakout rapper and four-time GRAMMY nominee 21 Savage dropped i am > i was, his second solo artist album, at the end of 2018. The guest-heavy album, which features contributions from Post Malone, Childish Gambino, J. Cole, and many others, has since charted around the world, topped the Billboard 200 – a first for the artist – in the beginning of 2019, and achieved gold status in the U.S. As well, nine songs out of the album’s 15 original tracks landed on the Hot 100 chart, including multi-platinum lead single “A Lot,” which is also nominated for Best Rap Song next year. 21 Savage’s 2020 Best Rap Album nomination, which follows Record of the Year and Best Rap/Sung Performance nods for his 2017 Post Malone collaboration, "Rockstar,” marks his first solo recognition in the top rap category.

IGOR – Tyler, The Creator

The eccentric Tyler, The Creator kicked off a massive 2019 with his mid-year album, IGOR. Released this past May, IGOR, Tyler’s fifth solo artist album, is his most commercially successful project to date. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, marking his first time topping the coveted chart, while its lead single, "Earfquake,” peaked at No. 13, his highest entry on the Hot 100. Produced in full by Tyler and featuring guest spots from fellow rap and R&B stars Kanye West, Lil Uzi Vert, Solange, and Playboi Carti, among many others, IGOR follows the rapper’s 2017 album, Flower Boy, which received the Best Rap Album nod that same year.

The Lost Boy – YBN Cordae

Emerging rapper YBN Cordae, a member of the breakout YBN rap collective, released his debut album, The Lost Boy, to widespread critical acclaim this past July. The 15-track release is stacked with major collaborations with hip-hop heavyweights, including Anderson .Paak, Pusha T, Meek Mill, and others, plus production work from J. Cole and vocals from Quincy Jones. After peaking at No. 13 on the Billboard 200, The Lost Boy now notches two 2020 GRAMMY nominations: Best Rap Album and Best Rap Song for album track “Bad Idea,” featuring Chance the Rapper.

Brittany Howard, Brandi Carlile, Leon Bridges, 2 Chainz & More Join Small Business Live Benefit Livestream

Brittany Howard

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Brittany Howard, Brandi Carlile, Leon Bridges, 2 Chainz & More Join Small Business Live Benefit Livestream

Proceeds from the event will be go toward loans to small businesses founded by people of color, with additional support to women-owned and immigrant-owned businesses, via Accion Opportunity Fund

GRAMMYs/Jun 16, 2020 - 04:13 am

This Saturday, June 20, artists including Brittany Howard, Brandi Carlile, Leon Bridges, 2 Chainz and more will come together for Small Business Live, a livestream fundraiser event for small businesses facing challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Proceeds from the livestream will go to Accion Opportunity Fund to support small businesses founded by people of color, with additional support to women-owned and immigrant-owned businesses.

“Entrepreneurs of color are denied credit more often and charged higher rates for money they borrow to fund their businesses. We need to accelerate support to underserved businesses in order to reach our full potential,” Accion Opportunity Fund CEO Luz Urrutia said. “We have to decide what we want our Main Streets to look like when this is over, and we must act decisively to keep small businesses alive and ready to rebuild. This is a fun way to do something really important. Everyone’s support will make a huge difference to small business owners, their families and employees who have been devastated by this pandemic, the recession, and centuries of racism, xenophobia and oppression.”

Tune in for Small Business Live Saturday, June 20 from 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. EDT on smallbiz.live. The site also provides a full schedule of programs and links to watch the livestream on all major digital platforms. To learn more about Accion Opportunity Fund, visit the organization's website.

Ivan Barias On Silence As Complicity, Holding Major Labels Accountable & How To Be A Non-Black Latinx Ally

Taylor Swift Plots 2020 World Tour With U.S. Dates For Lover Fest East & West

Taylor Swift

Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/VMN19/Getty Images

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Taylor Swift Plots 2020 World Tour With U.S. Dates For Lover Fest East & West

Following dates in Europe and South America, Swift will land in the U.S. for Lover Fest East and West, where the pop star will open Los Angeles' brand new stadium

GRAMMYs/Sep 18, 2019 - 02:38 am

Taylor Swift  will be spreading the love in support of her hit album Lover.in 2020, but it may or may not be in a city near you. The GRAMMY winner announced plans for her summer 2020 tour in support of her seventh studio album, including two shows each in Foxborough, Mass. and Los Angeles for Lover Fest East and West respectively as the only four U.S. dates announced so far.

The tour kicks off in Belgium on June 20 and hits festivals in seven European countries before heading to Sao Paulo, Brazil on July 18 then heading to U.S. Swift will then present Lover Fest West with back-to-back Los Angeles July 25 and 26 at the newly named SoFi Stadium. The concerts will serve as the grand opening of the much-anticipated NFL venue. The tour will wrap a double header at Gillette Stadiuim in Foxborough July 31 and Aug 1

"The Lover album is open fields, sunsets, + SUMMER. I want to perform it in a way that feels authentic," she tweeted. "I want to go to some places I haven’t been and play festivals. Where we didn’t have festivals, we made some. Introducing, Lover Fest East + West!" 

Lover was released Aug. 23 and debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. Her sold-out tour for her previous album, 2017's Reputation, was the highest grossing U.S. tour ever, breaking her own record.

Tickets for the new dates go on sale to the general public via Ticketmaster on Oct. 17. 

DJ Khaled, Nipsey Hussle And John Legend Win Best Rap/Sung Performance For "Higher" | 2020 GRAMMYs

DJ Khaled, Samantha Smith and John Legend

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DJ Khaled, Nipsey Hussle And John Legend Win Best Rap/Sung Performance For "Higher" | 2020 GRAMMYs

DJ Khaled, Nipsey Hussle and John Legend take home Best Rap/Sung Performance at the 62nd GRAMMY Awards

GRAMMYs/Jan 27, 2020 - 09:05 am

DJ Khaled, featuring Nipsey Hussle and John Legend, has won Best Rap/Sung Performance for "Higher" at the 62nd GRAMMY Awards. The single was featured on DJ Khaled's 2019 album Father of Asahd and featured Hussle's vocals and Legend on the piano. DJ Khaled predicted the track would win a GRAMMY.

"I even told him, 'We're going to win a GRAMMY.' Because that's how I feel about my album," DJ Khaled told Billboard. "I really feel like not only is this my biggest, this is very special."

After the release of the song and music video -- which was filmed before Hussle's death in March -- DJ Khaled announced all proceeds from "Higher" will go to Hussle's children.

DJ Khaled and co. beat out fellow category nominees Lil Baby & Gunna ("Drip Too Hard"), Lil Nas X ("Panini"), Mustard featuring Roddy Ricch ("Ballin") and Young Thug featuring J. Cole & Travis Scott ("The London"). Hussle earned a second posthumous award at the 62nd GRAMMYs for Best Rap Performance for "Racks In The Middle." 

Along with Legend and DJ Khaled, Meek Mill, Kirk Franklin, Roddy Ricch and YG paid tribute to Hussle during the telecast, which concluded with "Higher."

Check out the complete 62nd GRAMMY Awards nominees and winners list here.