South Korean rapper, singer, and songwriter I.M has had his fair share of industry experience, and his debut album Duality gives him a chance to illustrate his own stories, unfiltered.
Originally making his debut in Monsta X, I.M and his fellow group members invented a collective reputation for taking the edgier, less traditional approach to their craft. The 24-year-old multifaceted talent has most certainly used that time to prove his prowess as both an up-and-coming artist and a seasoned performer, making this next solo endeavor feel like a new challenge that I.M was able to thrive in.
With Duality now becoming his reality, the singer has released his brainchild out into the world for all to experience, and it’s nothing short of uniquely spectacular. His debut single “God Damn” reveals the singer has mastered smooth delivery, tweaked to his distinctive, low-toned raspy vocal strengths, and creating a new idea of I.M’s full-fledged persona through this solo release.
With a heavy thematic focus on duality and musically depicting unspoken thoughts, the artist is credited for lyrics on every track as well as arrangement, and even as a composer — kicking off his journey that’s told through inner-complexities with a sensual, R&B spin.
It’s not every day that a member of a group gets the chance to tackle a more self-curated expression of art, so the fact that I.M is getting to take this opportunity to blossom without restrictions is an astounding next step for his work. Duality gives us that emotional tether to an artist that listeners crave from music, and in doing so, his passion is more accessible than ever.
Outside of his lead single, the album does play with other ideas prevalent to where I.M is at in his life, with songs like “Burn” finally bringing closure to past sorrows — and others like “Happy to Die” achieve a state of contentment through all of life’s trials and tribulations up to this point. The nucleus of Duality is that real, self-titled admission of internal feelings and external reactions, making this an accomplished album that presents I.M as we’ve never seen before.
Firstly, major congratulations are in order! You’re preparing to share this personal project with the world and that’s such an exciting notion! Was there one song on this album that came first or that sparked an idea to build this body of work?
First of all, I’ve always been making tracks. Even during the busiest time with my schedule, I always split the time and work in the studio. I wrote a lot of songs, but after much consideration, I chose these songs. The songs were prepared first, and I think it’s right to say that among the prepared songs, they are tied up with what I think fits well with the concept.
You’ve shared music through a mixtape before, but this is your first mini-album. What’s one of the best memories you had working on something that’s essentially meant to be a reflection of your own experiences?
When I was working on “God Damn,” I was personally going through a bit of a rough time. As everyone would, there were times when the various aspects found in me seemed difficult to me, and on the contrary, there were times when it was good. I think I tried hard to express such universal appreciation in my own way. In the process, it was a good memory that I worked hard without knowing the time went by.
Obviously, when it comes to art, there’s sort of a trial and error period — so what would you say was the biggest obstacle or roadblock you faced throughout the process?
Satisfying myself is the biggest obstacle. What’s the use of this album that comes out of my name if I don’t like it in the end? But I still can’t be satisfied. Maybe that’s the biggest obstacle.
I’m sure each song has its own special meaning to you because it’s such a new experience — but is there a song or two on the mini-album that you currently have an attachment to?
That’s why I chose “God Damn” as my title. Because it’s the most meaningful and special to me. Every single song is precious and meaningful, but I think “God Damn” is the best.
When you set out to make Duality, did you receive any advice or tips that you found to be particularly helpful?
I think I just followed my inner voice. I believe in myself.
You’re in a really neat spot where you’ve been able to demonstrate so many different styles and genres, both solo and as a group — was there ever one particular moment you realized that music was your real passion?
When I have a break, what I want to do is music. Furthermore, what I want to do even though I don’t have free time is music. At that time, I feel like, “Oh, I really love music, and I am full of passion for music.”
When I was able to first hear the single “God Damn,” I’d say the title was pretty much my reaction! How exciting was it getting to see the end result of what I’d personally call a hit?
In fact, it hasn’t hit me yet, and I think I need to see fans’ reactions to find out what the final results were like. However, I think the process is more important than the final result. I just think that the result came out like this because of the process. Additionally, as I always say, it’s too early to be satisfied.
You cover a lot of bases in the industry — singer, songwriter, rapper, dancer, etc.! I can’t help but wonder when you work on a song, do you factor in all of those visual/auditory components?
When you work on a song, there is a picture that you can imagine for each song. However, how to bring this out visually and audibly depends a lot on how I want to let the song be shown. Whether to show the picture I drew on stage, show it on video, or just leave it to everyone’s imagination. Usually, rather than thinking of such an idea at the beginning of the song’s work, it seems to be measured in a situation where the song is somewhat outlined.
You have such a loving fanbase, and I know there’s an overwhelming amount of excitement about Duality! What would you say you’re most excited for people to know about your new music?
As much as the fans are happy, I’m happy. Aren’t we all the happiest people together?
Any final thoughts about the release, or message you’d like to leave for your fans?
It’s been so long since I saw you, so I wanted to meet you again. Please listen to my album as much as you want. I love you.
Make sure to stream I.M’s first solo album Duality, available on all streaming platforms now.