SUGA to AGUST D: The musical evolution of the unstoppable artist who spits poetry at 11 syllables per second

From Daegu to the Grammy Stage, BTS' Suga has had a journey worth chronicling in epics. Join us as we celebrate his birthday by charting his incredible musical evolution.
Suga,BTS,AGUST D SUGA to AGUST D: The musical evolution of the unstoppable artist who spits poetry at 11 syllables per second
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Rapper, producer, singer/songwriter of record-breaking, Grammy-nominated BTS, who also has a chart-topping solo career in his own right, started it all as ‘Gloss’ and even before that, as Min Yoongi.  Needless to say, he has come an unbelievably long way. However, one thing has always remained certain: his knack for music that transcends space or time. The world is celebrating Suga’s birthday today and what better way to add to the revelry than charting his musical journey all the way from Daegu to the rest of the world.

518-062                                                    

Before signing with BigHit Entertainment, Min Yoongi was making music as an underground rapper in the Daegu-based hip-hop crew D-TOWN. His stage name at the time used to be ‘Gloss’ and one of the most prominent tracks produced and composed by him was ‘518-062’. The rapper on the track is Nackshun but the song has distant echoes of what will come to characterize AGUST D. This song was made in honour of the Gwangju Uprising in South Korea which is often referred to as 5·18 meaning May 18, the day the Movement officially commenced. ‘062’ is Gwangju’s area code. It is clear from this song and the meaning that it holds, of never letting the labors of the Movement fade, that Suga was never meant to be an ordinary rapper. He was always meant to be the greatest of the greats. The production is similar to legends like Tiger JK and its neat finish, coming from a barely 17-year-old artist, speaks volumes about the dormant talent and potential within him that wasn’t going to be held back any longer. You can see the lyrics to the song on Gloss’ own original post here.

Intro: The Most Beautiful Moment in Life

As part of BTS, Suga has actively participated in the composition and production of innumerable songs and recounting all of them would perhaps turn out to be a listing of BTS’ entire discography. However, besides being in BTS, Suga also started working on his renewed solo career under the name ‘AGUST D’. AGUST-D holds a blend of his past and his present with ‘AGUS’ referring to SUGA and ‘T D’ referring to his old crew, D-TOWN. His first ever solo release as SUGA however, was ‘Intro: The Most Beautiful Moment in Life’.

‘Intro: The Most Beautiful Moment in Life’ carries the distinct ‘BTS’ sound which shows how well Suga is able to distinguish his artistic faculties with respect to his stage. As BTS, his style is completely different from the musicality he brings in with AGUST D. This distinction has a charm of its own. Intro: The Most Beautiful Moment in Life feels strangely personal, knowing the importance that basketball had in his life. As a matter of fact, “SUGA” comes from the first two syllables of his position as a player – Shooting Guard. To bring such an analogy forward in a song about struggling with the bleakness of reality is a feat in and of itself. His lyricism is nothing short of pure genius and being able to deliver such raw emotion in the early stages of his career was not only commendable but also a risk that only BTS would have been willing to take.

Intro: NEVER MIND

Much like ‘Intro: The Most Beautiful Moment in Life’, this song too is laced with the personal details of Suga’s growth. He charts the journey, from his youth till the point where he saw himself then, having made it beyond where he imagined. However, there’s not a shadow of doubt that lingers behind this success. As a matter of fact, he’s quite sure that this is only the beginning and it truly was. The predominant sentiment behind this song is that of having no regrets and no fear, something that is opposed years later in ‘Interlude: Shadow’. A 90s R&B beat is complemented by the slightest piano and guitar melodies, strongly in contrast to Suga’s powerful rap, which creates a nostalgic yet inspirational feel. This was only a prelude for everything great that was to come.

First Love

‘First Love’ is as once again, as deeply personal as it could get as Suga opens up his sacred space for all to see. The piano here, is at the foreground of the song as Suga delivers a powerful dialogue through two separate vocal tones. One, deep and intense, represents his own self years in the past whereas the other, higher in pitch and more gentle and forgiving, represents his love for music expressed through his Brown Piano. Through much of his music so far, Suga has created somewhat of a journal of his personal growth accepting both, his success and his shortcomings. Halfway through the song, it takes a choir-like dimension, as if redemption is close. The climax leaves both Suga and his listeners breathless as he reclaims his innate connection with music despite all other physical conditions suggesting otherwise. After a split second of silence, the piano picks up again and it is indeed, all that’s needed until the song is brought to a beautiful close, recalling his first love.

Trivia: Seesaw

The true potential of Suga’s genius finally manifests itself in the brilliant dichotomy created in this song. The genre leans towards disco-pop and jazz, which is as bright and upbeat as it gets. However, behind that façade, lies the grim truth of human relationships. The structure of the song follows a one-sided argument that someone is vehemently reinstating while also being tired of the same. This back and forth is further cemented by Suga alternating between his deep voice while rapping and his angelic light vocals. By the end of the song, only traces are left, both of the song and of the relationship it speaks of. His sense of songwriting has always proved genius for BTS and in this song especially, it reigns supreme. At this point, it is common knowledge that Suga doesn't just rap, he makes art. 

AGUST D

Suga breaks out of any and all moulds that he had settled in through his first self-titled mixtape ‘AGUST D’. In this mixtape, we get Min Yoongi, real and raw, unlike anything we’ve ever heard from him before. There’s a power here that had been quietly latent so far and showed itself most obviously in the unbelievable intensity and speed that his rap took on. BTS has never been your usual K-Pop boy group and as such, it was impressive but not the least bit unexpected that Suga would abandon all the immaculateness of “idol” life and take on the persona of a completely different entity, having dissociated from Suga as well as Min Yoongi.This is the struggle entirely of AGUST D or the artist behind the idol. From mental health to society, AGUST D leaves nothing untouched and in the fire of his rage, no system can persist. This is anarchy at its purest, backed perfectly by the classic non-conformist beat characteristic of Hip-Hop.

Interlude: Shadow

‘Interlude: Shadow’ signals the completeness that Suga has achieved in his artistic pursuit contrasted with the darkness that it has brought upon him. With incredible success, comes the fear of losing it all and while this was something that Suga wasn’t the least bit bothered with in “Never Mind”, in “Shadow”, this fear looms large. The genre is indefinable and can only be described as BTS in all its glory and more specifically, the representation of Suga’s inner self. This is especially important, considering the growth pains that Suga has faced to get to this point and even when he’s here, he’s faced with an uncertainty that is the darkest of the dark. His shadow demands acknowledgment and by putting it into music, Suga effectively does just that. He acknowledges and identifies with his shadow, accepting it as a part of his own self and translates it into his creative life force.

D-2

While AGUST D, his first mixtape, echoed the feelings of hardship he had been harbouring from a young age, D-2 comes from a more mature place, both emotionally and sonically. However, the themes that he deals with, the struggle of his inner self versus who he is on stage, the loss of an old friend to the wrong path in life and those even more intimate than they appear, are just as poignant as they were before, perhaps even more. ‘Daechwita’ in particular, is a wound palpably excoriated, evident from his facial scar in the music video and ultimately healed. The music video starts with the King avatar of Agust D with a scar running across his eye. It looks fresh and hasn’t completely healed over yet. The other protagonist of the video is Agust D as himself, also with a scar running across his face, completely healed over. This is relevant in order to show a natural progression and further reinforce that these two characters are simply versions of the same person in and out of time. AGUST D of the past, with wounds fresh from the humiliation, malicious comments of haters and lack of support is defensive and reacts violently to opposition. For AGUST D of the present, those scars have faded away, leaving behind a more mature persona. Daechwita’s music video single-handedly chalks the progression from Suga’s first mixtape to his latest, from being a young rapper to a professional Grammy-nominated artist. In order to reach this place, Suga has had to reject parts of himself that focused entirely on the negatives. He’s had to fight his shadow, represented by the King Agust D and only when he could overpower his shadow, his true self could prevail.

It is an absolute honour to be living in the same era as Min Yoongi and every single piece of his music is a peek into his bare soul, scathed yet ever-evolving. We wish SUGA, AGUST D and Min Yoongi a very happy birthday and we hope he continues to make the world a better place, simply by existing and being happy himself.

ALSO READ: The musical evolution of BTS’ V aka Kim Taehyung: The baritone of Kpop who rules the world

Join us in wishing SUGA  a very happy birthday by leaving your best wishes in the comments down below! Don't forget to mention your favourite track by Suga!

Anonymous 3 months ago

I knew Suga the greatest from the beginning hbd yoongi

Anonymous 3 months ago

I knew Suga was the greatest from the beginning

Anonymous 3 months ago

A belated happy birthday to u our AUGUST D. wishing u d best in everything u do, loving u more,and i pray that GOD Will help u in all areas of ur life AMEN. I PURPLE U ALL