Jimin Sets Himself Free With First Solo Single


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‘Set Me Free Pt. 2’ is an intense hip-hop track that explores Jimin’s personal demons and teases big things to come, writes Jenna Guillaume.

Korean superstar Jimin — who’s already achieved phenomenal global success as part of boy group BTS — has officially made his hotly-anticipated solo debut with ‘Set Me Free Pt. 2’.

The track is a pre-release single ahead of Jimin’s upcoming album FACE, which comes out March 24. ‘Set Me Free Pt. 2’ is actually the last song on the album, but with its intense sound and music video, it’s an impactful introduction to what Jimin has in store for all of us (basically: ending us in the best possible way).

A choir and orchestra offer the resonant backdrop for Jimin’s unique vocals, which are distorted in places and smooth in others, sonically conveying the feelings of imprisonment and a determination to be free that the song explores.

According to a press release from Jimin’s label Big Hit Music, the single “portrays Jimin’s resolution to free himself by overcoming the pain, sorrow and emptiness hidden deep inside him”. In an interview with Consequence, Jimin added that the key to the song is that he is setting himself free.

“I thought it was important that I be the one to set myself free — not someone else. In the end, I’m the one who has set myself free,” he said.

This journey is reflected in the lyrics, which are aggressive and forceful at times towards others — “Hey fool, just get out of my way/Shut up, fuck off” — but reveal both determination and compassion when referring to Jimin himself. He conjures up a metaphor of a butterfly to will himself to “fly away… finally free”, reiterates he’s in his “prime time”, and shows generosity to his past self (“Raise your hands for the past me”).

This isn’t the first time Jimin’s reflected on his personal growth over the 10 years since his BTS debut in 2013. In a commentary film for the 2018 BTS World Tour ‘Love Yourself’ Seoul DVD, Jimin addressed his younger self directly, saying: “You were trying very hard. I was impressed and moved by you”. Back then, Jimin’s persona involved a performative machismo that feels far removed from the way he now presents himself. “I think I wanted to appear like a strong man,” Jimin said. “Now… I don’t have to pretend. I can just be myself. Talk about myself without pretending anything.”

The music video highlights his arc through striking choreography (allowing Jimin’s dance background to really shine — I expect nothing less) as well as thoughtful costuming and set design.

In it, Jimin is seen in a panopticon-like structure, alluding, I think, to themes of imprisonment and always being watched. He’s surrounded by dancers donned in grey, who create a frenetic energy around him; at one point forming an actual maze, at other times surrounding and staring at him, pointing and jeering, before finally maniacally mobbing and grasping at him, almost consuming him (emphasis on almost).

At the start of the video, Jimin wears a dark combat-style outfit, complete with a leather jacket indicative of a tough exterior. As it progresses, he’s seen with fewer accessories and items of clothing — at one point shirtless except for a soft bomber jacket and the words of a Rainer Maria Rilke poem, “I live my life in widening circles”, stamped in black ink across his torso. Of course, the poem itself also reinforces the themes of both the song and the forthcoming album — the promo materials reference rippling circle imagery and a “circle of resonance”.

Jimin’s final form in the music video is wearing a soft, white outfit — it’s significant that it is this version of the star that defeats the forces trying to overtake him. We see Jimin emerge from the horde of dancers like a butterfly from a cocoon and simultaneously knock them all to the ground, leaving him standing alone, triumphant and free by the strength of his own will. It’s really something.

It’s a powerful message to lead with as a first official solo offering, delivered in Jimin’s characteristically layered, dynamic way. If ‘Set Me Free Pt. 2’ is just a sample of what his debut album offers, we’re in for one hell of a ride.

Watch Jimin’s music video for ‘Set Me Free Pt. 2’:

This is an opinion piece written by Jenna Guillaume, a Sydney-based writer who loves all things TV and pop culture. She tweets @JennaGuillaume.