BTS: The Journey Of RM & Message Behind His Mixtapes

The story of RM, the leader of the all-famous idol group BTS.

· 8 min read
Leader of BTS, photo for weverse magazine
Kim Nam Joon (김남준) 

Kim Nam Joon (김남준), mainly known by his stage name RM, which stands for "Real Me", formerly known as Rap Monster, is a South Korean rapper-songwriter and record producer under Big Hit Entertainment (now known as Hybe Labels).

He is the leader and rapper of the all-famous group BTS or Bangtan Sonyeondan. Not just this, he is notable for his various contribution to the music industry.

Early Life

Weverse magazine shoot (RM)
Kim Namjoon 

Kim Nam Joon (Last Name: Kim; First Name: Nam Joon) was born on September 12, 1994, in  Dongjak-gu, South Korea, and grew up in Ilsan-Gu, where his family moved when he was four years old.

He is the elder of two siblings and has one younger sister.

As a student, RM was very much into writing, he actively went into writing poetry and also won many awards.

RM even decided to pursue literature as his major but changed his mind. At the age of 11, RM got interested in Hip-Hop music after listening to Epik High's "Fly".

He mentioned that after listening to the song he felt more at peace, and due to this he tried to look more into the genre.  

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He later got into American Music and discovered Eminem through his school teacher. Because of this, he got interested in lyricism, printing lyrics, and also printed lyrics he thought were "cool".

His poetry was later transitioned into lyrics. Even he mentions that all his poems became lyrics when combined with music.

In 2007, RM began rapping in local amateur rapping circles. He even created his first self-composed recording for the first time.

He later participated in his first-ever concert in 2008.

RM eventually became more active as well as famous as an underground rapper. With being famous he needed an identity, a name for himself.

RM decided to go with the name "Runch Randa", releasing a number of tracks and collections with other underground rappers, such as Zico.

In school, RM scored in the top 1% of the nation in the university entrance examinations for language, math, foreign language, and social studies and had an IQ of 148.

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RM's parents were strongly opposed to his interest in a musical career due to his academic achievements, and initially, RM decided to set music aside to focus on his studies.

In order to convince his mother to allow him to be a rapper, he asked her if "She wanted to have a son who was a first-place rapper, or a 5000th-place student."    

What Is The Meaning Behind RM's Stage Name "Rap Monster"?

RM decided to go with the name "Rap Monster" during his time as an idol trainee.

Though commonly misunderstood that the name means that he "raps like a monster", it derives from the lyrics of a song he wrote inspired by San E's "Rap Genius".

The lyrics contained a verse where San E declares that he should be called a "rap monster" as he "raps non-stop".

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He adopted the stage name because he felt it was "cool". RM has described himself as having a love-hate relationship with the name, feeling that it was not selected for being of "incredible value" to him.

He formally changed his stage name to RM in November 2017 as he thought Rap Monster no longer described who he was or his personality.

In an interview with Entertainment Tonight RM stated that his name can have many meanings. "Real Me" was provided as a possible current meaning.

How Did Hitman Bang Found RM?

In 2009, RM auditioned for Big Deal Records, passing the first round along with Samuel Seo but unfortunately, he failed the second round because he forgot all the lyrics.

However, after the audition rapper sleepy exchanged information with RM who he later mentioned to Big Hit Entertainment producer Pdogg.

In 2010, Sleepy contacted RM, encouraging him to audition for Big Hit's CEO Bang Si Hyuk.

Chairman of Hybe and leader of BTS
Hitman Bang & RM 

Hitman Bang was not a very known person as CEO at that time.

He is the founder of formerly Big Hit Entertainments labels. Bang’s stage name is ‘Hitman Bang’, a nickname originating from his time at JYP.

As a producer and composer, he was once known for his hitmakers, hence the moniker.

This stage name is what inspired his company name Big Hit Entertainment before it rebranded to HYBE this march.

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Bang offered RM a spot at the record label, and without even informing his parents he accepted the offer immediately.

With RM accepting the offer, Bang and Pdogg started the production of a hip-hop group, which eventually became the all-famous group BTS.

Click here to read more about RM

1) He has an IQ of 148.

2) His Zodiac Sign is Virgo.

3) RM wrote the lyrics of "No More Dream" because he had no dreams when he was in High School.

4) RM is a verified Feminist.

5) He is one of the biggest supporters of the LGBTQ community.

6) He is 26 years old according to Global Age and 28 years old according to Korean Age.

7) He is the fourth oldest and fourth-youngest member of the group making him the middle member.

8) He taught himself how to speak in English with the help of the all-famous American Sitcom "FRIENDS".

9) He did ice skating for four years and is good at it.

10) While his main goal is loving himself, RM acknowledges that loving yourself is not a final destination but a state of mind.

RM officially joined Big Hit Entertainment shortly after the age of 16.

RM was under training as a trainee with another fellow rapper Min Yoon-gi and dancer Jung Ho-Seok who later was known to be Suga and J-Hope of BTS respectively.

During his three years as a trainee, he gave many contributions as a lyricist and a rapper.

He performed five pre-debut tracks credited under BTS in 2010 and 2011.

He even helped for Girl Group Glam and helped pen down their debut track "PartY (XXO)".

The song was an explicitly LGBTQ song that was praised by Billboard as one of the forward-thinking songs in K-pop.  

On June 13, 2013, RM made his debut with BTS and has since produced various songs on all of  BTS' albums.

RM's Solo Career, Release Of His Mixtape "RM" and "Mono"

On March 13, 2015, Rm released his first solo mixtape, "RM", which ranked 48th on Spin's "50 Best Hip Hop Albums of 2015".

The mixtape featured a variety of topics such as RM's past on the track "Voice".

RM also described himself as an atheist and the only thing determining his success is his own self.

The entirety of his work on the mixtape took around four or five months, with RM working on it in between BTS's activities.

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The following year, RM recalled that he had largely written about the negative emotions he had been carrying, such as anger and rage, but stated that the songs are not "100% under sovereignty" and that he felt many parts of the mixtape were "immature".

He also added that he hoped his next mixtape to be something he worked on by himself.

In 2018, RM released his second mixtape famously known as "Mono" in October, which he often referred to as "Playlist".

He became the first-ever Korean artist to rank number one on the Emerging Artists Chart in the United States with Mono.

The mixtape was critically praised by critics as well as fans. In his previous mixtape, "RM" showed few negative emotions whereas In "Mono" he reflected his deep insecurities.

The entire mixtape was not just something that RM could relate to but also something which his fans deeply felt.

RM's Message To His Fans

Wevrse magazine, RM shoot
"I Hope I'm On My Way Somewhere" 

According to RM, he thinks he has changed a lot during this year, he felt like the things that BTS had gone through were mostly because of the advanced technology.

But this didn't stop him from the happiness to have more accomplishments with the group, such as being nominated for the Grammy Music Awards, and everything related to Butter.

But when it comes to "Permission To Dance", the story is quite different.

Where Butter is a summer song, PTD sends a thoughtful and positive message. RM expresses that he wants to be as honest as he can with his fans "Army's".

He wants his fans to know all the difficulties BTS went through in 2015 and 2017.

He thinks it is essential to talk about our hardships as it helps in evolving our emotions.

"Tell me your story. I want to hear your voice, I want to hear your conviction. No matter who you are or where you're from, Your skin colour, gender identity, just speak yourself". - RM, United Nations Speech.

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