G-Dragon Kwon Ji Yong
Released on 8th June 2017, Kwon Ji Yong marks G-Dragon’s first EP since 2012’s One of a Kind. The album, uniquely released on an USB stick, features the Big Bang leader’s most personal songs to date, and deal with the negative side to his celebrity status. Having sold over a million copies in China in under a week, his statement that he’s a “living legend” in Middle Fingers Up is one to be taken seriously.
1. Middle Fingers Up (Intro)
A warm, confident opening track which leaves the listener anticipating more of the same to follow. The piano opening and fair-ground tune and cheerful cries for people to put their “middle fingers up” are unexpected, and contrast to lots of G-Dragon’s earlier songs. The complex combination of sounds and genres set a high standard and truly show his development as an artist since ‘Coup d’Etat’. The gunshot sounds and the cheerful tune juxtapose; this constant unison of positive and negative throughout the EP, whether it’s lyrical or melodically, is a sustained theme, and strikes an immediate, although unlikely, comparison with Paramore’s recently released ‘After Laughter’. The song features on the album’s ‘Making Of’ video:
2. Bullshit (Act I)
Sustaining the energy from Middle Fingers Up, the rap opening sounds far more like a standard G-Dragon song, But, as the track progresses, it shows a widespread understanding and influence from other genres; the pre-chorus lyrically makes note of the diverse range of melodies and rhythms (“Samba, Rumba, Cha-Cha”). It’s this build up in the pre-chorus and its seamless transition to the strange chorus that are easily some of the most memorable segments of the entire album. The snippets influenced by traditional Korean music reminds the listener of the traditional sample in ‘Coup d’Etat’’s Niliria, but the way it is incorporated into the song, rather than just using a sample, like in Niliria, shows the growth and maturity G-Dragon has undergone in the last four years since his last solo release.
3. Super Star (Act II)
This is an honest, open song about being lonely. The bouncy r&b and reggae influences in the melody juxtapose the bitter, somewhat resentful lyrics. Even the title ‘Super Star’ suggests positivity, which G-Dragon refuses to give lyrically. However, the song is somewhat lost; stuck between the extremely energetic Bullshit and melancholy Untitled, as well as its overly repetitive lyrics, the song is the most forgettable of the five. But, this isn’t to say that it isn’t enjoyable.
4. Untitled, 2014 (Act III)
After the controversial news surrounding bandmate T.O.P., Untitled was set to replace Bullshit as the lead single. This isn’t a bad shout, as the negative lyrics set the underlying tone for the rest of the album. Untitled displays a tender side to G-Dragon as a soloist that we haven’t seen before. It’s a mature ballad showcasing his broad vocal range and can only compared to Big Bang’s If You in sincerity. The music video features G-Dragon looking up at the sky for a single shot; this is not a commercial marketing call, it is a genuine statement about art. The high production value in his other music videos has been replaced, and the viewer is asked to focus on the music, artistry and G-Dragon’s vulnerability.
5. Divina Commedia (Outro)
The song offers the same sense of vulnerability that Untitled does as it displays a limited instrumental which back his vocals. His delivery is either fast and direct or slow and thoughtful; this variation sets the song apart from the other tracks on the album. But, it steps away from the inversion of the ballad form in Untitled and is more hip-hop based. Divina Commedia wraps up the rest of the album thematically, as he speaks of being alone, but after only four songs, one can only wish that Kwon Ji Yong was a longer album.