Stray Kids just came back with their 3rd mini album since their debut earlier this year!
The title of their new release is “I am YOU,” the third installment of their “I am” series, which began with “I am NOT” in March and followed with “I am WHO” in August.
While “I am NOT” and “I am WHO” expresses the journey from an imposing struggle with identity to finding one’s “own pace,” “I am YOU” takes a sentimental turn.
“I am YOU” reflects Stray Kids‘ growth as individuals and as artists who are cultivating their sound and characters. It takes a leap from the internal chaos to sentimental and introspective outlooks.
The album consists of 8 new songs, all of which were self-made by the group’s powerhouse trio, 3RACHA (Bang Chan (CB97), Changbin (SPEARB), Han (J.ONE)), as well as the contributions of the other members.
As a big fan of Stray Kids (whose fans are known as STAY), I’m ecstatic to share my thoughts about the album with everyone!
“YOU” is the intro to the album and one of the tracks I was anticipating the most because Changbin, Hyunjin, and I.N are the ones singing it. One of the aspects I appreciate the most about this song is that it has an intensity that reminds me of a racing video game but also a sentimentality that aligns with the theme of the album.
I am YOU (Title)
“I am YOU” is a shift away from the energy of “My Pace” and tells of finding oneself in another and filling the void in a self that is searching for answers and fulfillment. The lyrics carry the beautiful emotions of someone who has found another who shares everything with them, being at their side when they need it most. It also tells of seeing oneself in another and the sense of connectivity and newfound identity that gives them strength and purpose.
What I appreciate most about this song is its ability to articulate the feelings of connectedness we share with those we love and how simply having someone like you gives you a renewed sense of self.
편 (My Side)
“My Side” is one of the most dynamic tracks on the album, having a soft-rock feel that blends various music genres into one. The lyrics are an ode to the ones who support them, expressing their gratefulness and hope that their song’s message is able to reach them. There are a lot of nice vocal segments, but also intense rap parts and a surprising rock instrumental at the end.
해장국 (Hero’s Soup)
This is a contender for my favorite song on the album. It has a beautiful blend of sentimentality and nostalgia, being a glimpse into the deepest parts of the boys’ hearts. The song tells the story of the role “Hero’s Soup” plays in their fathers’ lives and their journey to understanding that significance. The main theme of the song is that as boys, they didn’t understand the meaning of being refreshed by that soup and still don’t, though they hope to.
What is beautiful about this song is the personal stories told through the lyrics and music and how you feel like you’ve gotten a glimpse into their hearts through it.
“Get Cool” is the feel-good track of the song, much like “Awkward Silence” was in the “I am WHO” album. “Get Cool” emphasizes the beauty and joy in the small things and living in the moment. One of the messages is to indulge even in the tiniest of happy moments, whether it’s the excitement of getting food delivery or enjoying larger-scale successes. The song has a cheerful, upbeat tune that feels like it lowers your blood pressure and makes you feel refreshed.
Along with “Hero’s Soup,” this track is one of the candidates for my favorite song on this album. Although the meaning of the song is left for interpretation, the overall theme revolves around opposites and parallels.
My understanding is that the track is about there always being two sides to something, such as success or failure, yes or no, black or white, and Stray Kids is using this to allude to the fact that they have many choices to make but want to do the one that is best for them, where they can be the best they can be.
Favorite parts of this song: the catchy chorus, the unique adlibs, Bang Chan‘s rapping, and the back-and-forth between Felix and Changbin. I also love that this song shows their vocal and rap colors in different ways than their other songs. (Plus, it reminds me of 3RACHA songs like “+.-” and “Cloud-9.”)
As Woojin revealed in their “I am YOU” documentary, “0325” is the combination of the three intros from their “I am” album series: “NOT!”, “WHO?”, and “YOU.” The song is titled after Stray Kids‘ debut date, March 25, as it marks the significant start of their journey as artists and individuals seeking to make a difference in the world. The lyrics mirror their deepest feelings about what has lead them to this point and their transition to accomplishing their dreams.
The overall sound of the song emits a racetrack feel, much like “YOU,” and makes me feel like I’m at a start line getting ready to embark on an adventure. There is also a sense of urgency and raw emotion in the song that anchors the sensation of leaving the chaotic darkness to a bright dream.
Mixtape #3 (CD ONLY)
“Mixtape #3” is the Stray Kids remake of the 3RACHA track, “For You.” The main message of this track is uplifting those who are struggling, especially the youth who are dealing with the pressure of academic and social expectations. The most significant lyric in the song is, “Blessings wait for you,” which drives in that feeling of hope despite adversities, and the combination of the members heartfelt vocals, raps, and lyrics makes the meaning hit home.
In conclusion, “I am YOU” marks the shift in Stray Kids‘ music direction, giving us a glimpse into their deepest fears and hopes while providing insightful, inspirational lyrics that anyone can relate to.
There is also a sense of finality in that the album wraps up their “I am” series and is like the start line for a new chapter in their journey.
What are your favorite tracks in “I am YOU?” Share your opinions with us in the comments, and don’t forget to check out the official MV for “I am YOU” below!
I’ve also ordered 3 copies of this album, so once it arrives, I’ll be writing up on the physical album as well for a “Sweet Feature” merchandise review! You can check out a previous review I made of their “I am NOT” album.