When I said I was opening up to other artists, somehow I knew I would end up somewhere east of the eclectic highway. I never thought it would mean getting lost on Bang Yongguk’s Orange Drive, but indeed it was . . . and I am loving it.
If you would have asked me a year ago if I knew anything about Bang Yongguk, I would have emphatically answered no. Even with some passing, albeit vague knowledge of B.A.P., I was still clueless. I cannot remember exactly the circumstances of how and when I discovered him, but his name came up in conversation with a friend who was (and continues to be) a fan and it piqued my interest. I immediately shuffled over to iTunes to see what I could find, ended up buying his self-titled, and first solo album, Bangyongguk, and took an incredibly complex, and often emotional musical journey on first listen. I had no idea what Yongguk’s past was, and had no intel at all other than he had been leader of the K-pop group B.A.P. I certainly had no idea that a K-pop idol (former or otherwise) was making this kind of music. But I was certain that Bang Yongguk found himself a new fan.
In reading about Yongguk’s journey through the writing, composing and recording process of his solo album and, the darkness he traveled through following his departure from the agency that represented B.A.P., I was not sure what to expect with Orange Drive, especially since it was released on the eve of his military enlistment. I must say, it is subtle, honest and optimistic; the perfect parting gift to his fans.
Rhythmic and jazzy, it is clear that Yongguk has a diverse musical palette. Orange Drive is a smooth collision of jazz, soul, and rap all lovingly embraced in his very resonant and deep baritone voice. Lyrically (and I am sure there is much that gets lost in translation), the song seems like a combination of many themes: love, good-bye, struggle, self-acceptance, and hope.
I love deeply as if it’s the last time
I just wanna say don’t wait up
gotta get you back (back)
Turn off the lights on my stage, I’m ready, action
I wanna see you again some day
shall we come again wooo
We’re dancing a rainbow dance together
* * *
I LOVE ME
I still love myself
Orange Drive lol lo lol lo
Orange Drive Way
I still collect lo-fi jazz LPs that I like
The sun is too high, I’m still dreaming
Flying high to space
I wanna go meet my grandpa
Holding my grandma’s hand
With cash in my right hand
No Way, they say life, No Way, is complicated
Lift up your head, love this song
I count myself among Bang Yongguk’s fans who now wait for his return from serving out his mandatory military service. I look forward to how this chapter in his life, this repose as it were, will influence, enhance and deepen his journey.
[Image cr. Bangstergram; as tagged]