With the ongoing success of BTS, it’s unsurprising that they are receiving international recognition. However, it’s not just recognition from fans but from some of the biggest international artists as well. ‘Change’ is a special collaboration track between BTS’ Rap Monster and American rapper Wale, one of the rising names in American rap. The MV for ‘Change’, released on 19th March, explores a variety of themes, and most notably is a commentary on labour and employment criticising the current trends in employment. What’s so nice to see is a collaboration between two talented African-American and Korean rappers, both with their own styles but styles which harmonise well with each other.
In terms of themes, ‘Change’ is a rap ballad that emphasises that change is happening, that people are realising the futility of the current education systems and commercialism, and instead preaches that we should be learning as much as we can to bring change to the world. Thus, the MV portrays various jobs—from cleaner to tattoo artist, from student to politician, from office worker (whatever that means!) to rapper—that are slowly changing and becoming all consuming, perhaps fitting to our modern lifestyles and others becoming more powerful and negative. Ultimately, this track is a ballad to the changes of our current world, a world that is constantly changing and developing, but perhaps a bit too fast…
The MV has all been recorded in an empty warehouse, lit up in such a way that makes the space much larger than it actually is. However, what also makes this MV so interesting to watch is that, without us realising, it goes from the very subtle black-and-white to eventually bringing in colour as Wale joins the scene and eventually becomes incredibly psychedelic with lots of effects and video manipulation. However, unlike other MVs, it’s a subtle development and not as jarring.
What makes this MV so powerful is that the two collaborators exemplify the MV’s very message: these two artists, from opposite sides of the world, with different cultures and sensibilities, agree on this single fact that the world is changing and needs people to speak up. It’s rare to see African-American artists collaborating with Hallyu stars in this way, and vice versa: K-Pop might be becoming bigger in the US but it’s not mainstream yet. In a very important move, this MV is demonstrative of the fact that our current world is incredibly connected and globalised, and that connections are made between people everywhere: and that makes our task of seeking the truth in a constantly changing world even more important.
Overall, this is a brilliant track and MV: it shows that BTS is not a side-lined Hallyu group but rather the spokesmen for a movement that is highly critical, analytical, and engaged, and willing to engage with the rest of the world. With names like Wale becoming increasingly aware of Hallyu, it’s only a matter of years that it will become just as important as Western music.
Review written by Tariq