Juliet Serrato, Staff Writer

EXO and SuperM member, Kim Jong-in, has debuted as a solo artist with the release of his mini-album, KAI (开). The album contains 6-tracks made up of mostly R&B and PBR&B melodies, and it is one of the most unique albums I have heard from a solo artist. Since the release of his first album, many new fans, like myself, have found themselves in awe over his vocal talents and visuals. 

The first track, “Mmmh”,was written and composed by Keelah Jacobsen, Cameron Jai, JUNNY, and Jane. The song consists of an R&B pop beat with a futuristic theme. The lyrics themselves are very smooth, catchy, and relate to needing a former partner/love. This combination has resulted in one of the most popular K-Pop songs in recent times topping #1 in iTunes song charts in over 40 countries, including Mexico, Singapore, Colombia, Ecuador, Malaysia, and Argentina.

The second track, “Nothing On Me,” written and composed by Hwang Yu Bin, Jake Torrey, Michael Matosic, and Luke Niccoli, is an alternative-R&B tune that can be described as having an atmospheric; yet, industrial feel and many fans compare it to songs made by the well-known artist, The Weeknd. 

The third track, “Amnesia,” was written and composed by Joe Thibodeau, Bryant Thompson, Rian Ball, and Lee Seu Ran. The lyrics capture the moment in which one falls in love and the beat is a mix of Trap and progressive R&B. Out of all of the tracks in this mini-album, this song mainly focused on vocals, which allowed Kai to showcase the duality in his voice. 

As mentioned, Kai took part in the groups EXO (2011-present) and SuperM (2019-present) with the positions of main dancer and sub rapper. For the first time, the artist has revealed his hidden capability, deeming him the title of a triple-threat and overall ace of third generation K-Pop boy groups.

The fourth track, “Reason,” written and composed by Cho Yun Kyung, Mike Daley, Mitchell Owens, and Michael Jimenez incorporates progressive R&B/alternative, heavy bass, and an intoxicating harmony that has drawn many fans to love this song. When focusing on the way the lyrics are delivered in collaboration with the beat, it is more of a heavy club song that will have outstanding choreography and display Kai’s dancing skills more than perfectly.

The fifth track, “Ride Or Die”, which is my favorite out of the album, was written by ChaCha Malone, Singing Beetle, and Adrian McKinnon. This song allows you to feel the music through its funk-infused groove and monotonous beat. To be frank, I had to re-listen to this song multiple times to properly describe this song. Many might believe this to be an inadequate form to describe it, but when judging the track from the perspective of someone who just enjoys music, you find yourself being enchanted by the 80’s/Michael Jackson-like ambiance.

The final track on this album, “Hello Stranger”, was written by Hwang Yu Bin, Rob Grimaldi, Theron Thomas, and Ivery Scott. The lyrics are more story-like and are about having a sense of commiseration or sympathy towards a stranger. This song has the most diversity in the melody with a mix of PBR&B, trap, and Latin influence.

After taking the time to break down the entirety of this ep, I can confidently say that it goes beyond boundaries and deserves the hype that it is receiving. Not only did Kai captivate and impress millions of people with KAI (开), but the producers and writers themselves have evolved R&B with their unique and risk-taking combinations of genres.    

Watch the short film, KAI, here: https://youtu.be/VjjKbrFJoxY 

Watch the, Mmmh, music video here: https://youtu.be/Fc-fa6cAe2c

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