On January 23rd, rap superstar San E, who is signed to Brand New Music, dropped his third EP, Season of Suffering. The album consists of 7 tracks and is autobiographical, exploring the tough times San E experienced in the last year. The 7 tracks are split into five stages which take us on a journey from the start of his suffering through to the end. As this EP is concerned with suffering, it lacks the energetic beats we’ve come to associate with San E.
01. I Can Go All Day
This track explores the first stage of the season: arrogance. San E’s suffering begins as a result of pride and arrogance from the growing popularity of his music. The track starts off with an odd array of sounds before San E announces that he “can go all day”. The song gets catchier as it progresses and is aptly named, I could listen to this track all day. As to be expected with rap, but still not commonplace in Korean rap, there is quite a bit of swearing in the somewhat shouty monologue at the end so might not suit those who like clean songs. That being said, the hiphop beat is enough to offset the swearing and make this an enjoyable song.
02. 서울, 소돔의 120일
Arrogance is followed by corruption in this track which explores how easily people can stray from the straight and narrow path. Unlike most Korean rap songs (or most rap songs for that matter) this track starts off with a short provocative monologue in French. Rather sombre in mood, this song makes numerous references to God and religion. The chanting in deep voices is rather eerie and brings to mind robed men in a graveyard telling of imminent doom. A little too creepy for my liking.
Corruption is followed by crisis. This track comes with a depressing video, befitting of its lyrics which explore trying to get help while struggling with two different identities. Despite the depressing lyrics, this song has a pretty good beat and the I just love the counting in the middle of the track. Like the songs before, this song also features some dialogue, which in the latter half of the track.
04. Lost in Myself (Feat. eSNa)
The crisis continues in the track Lost in Myself which is about a time of confusion which sees San E struggle with questions about who he is and what he oughts to do. The instrumental is quieter in this track than in the others and eSNA’s voice adds a lovely, smooth tone to a song with a depressing tone.
05. 나쁜X (BAD YEAR)
The crisis still isn’t over as the bad year continues. This track starts off with a slow sultry sounding beat which then changes to a more uplifting, catchy beat. The beat of this song changes a lot throughout the song, perhaps reflecting different stages in his “bad year”. Overall, this is a really enjoyable track, which unlike the previous tracks doesn’t feature dialogue or leave you feeling depressed.
06. I Am Me (Feat. 화사 Of 마마무)
Following the long period of crisis, the EP reaches its climax with a solution to the suffering. The solution: accepting who you are and embracing it. This is the most upbeat track on the album and sounds a lot like the San E we all know and love. San E gave us a colourful music video to accompany this cheery track. The song features the charming voice of Hwasa from Mamammoo which is always a pleasure to listen to. Upon first listen, I wasn’t particularly fond of this track, but it grows on you and carries a great moral. We can all learn a thing or two from this track.
07. Ready-Made (Marcel Duchamp)
Finally, after you’ve found your solution you need to begin the healing process. The final track on this EP starts off with a prayer as San E’s religion was instrumental in his ability to overcome his suffering. This track does not maintain the catchy upbeatness of the track before it but returns to a beat much closer to the periods of crisis which makes for an underwhelming end to this EP.
Overall, Season of Suffering breaks away from San E’s usual upbeat, light-hearted rap songs and takes on a more sombre tone. This might be a little disappointing to fans who love his songs like ” Me You” and “Story of Someone I know”, both of which are catchy to no ends. This is a pleasant EP to listen to, however, lacks a really catchy memorable track so it’s unlikely that any of these tracks will be chart topping like “Story of Someone I Know.” That being said, Season of Suffering may strike a personal chord with many people as we all go through tough times and can all learn a thing or two about self-acceptance.
Review written by Celena