A User asked me for 'proof' of how Namjoon has owned up to his problematic behaviour in the past and I wanted to post this Thread since I didn't get a chance to respond - hopefully this can spread some awareness regarding the situation too. (I feel like it's relevant in light of recent events)
1. His Ability to Learn:
RM has shown that he is open minded enough to learn from and admit his mistakes, in this interview he says:
Q: You shouted, “Westside Till I Die” during ‘If I Ruled The World’.
RM: That’s well… I was really wrong then (laughter). After the album came out and I listened to it, I thought “Ah”. I think I was immersed in the emotions while recording and ended up shouting like that.
Q: What’s the specific reason why you feel you were wrong?
RM: First off, I didn’t even live in the 'west side’… And even if that song had a G-Funk sound, what I shouted wasn’t the way to respect the west coast hip-hop musicians. I believe there are many meanings inside the words “Westside Till I Die”. Sweat, struggles, pride, etc. Isn’t it a phrase that compressed all these factors of life.
Q: Are you saying that you overlooked the weight and complex undertones that the phrase has within hip-hop?
RM: That’s right. I believe it’s different from words like “Yo!” or “Check It!”. As a result, I was thoughtless.
Q: Are you admitting it to be a mistake?
RM: Further than a mistake, it was a wrong. I have nothing to say.
2. Respecting Hip-Hop/Black Culture:
this April 2015 interview that showcase just how much RM has deepened his understanding of the culture:
“There are two things that Warren G told me that I will never be able to forget. The first is, hip-hop is open to any one. Despite what your race is or where you’re from, hip-hop is a type of music that is always ready to give you space for anyone who enjoys hip-hop. So, don’t restrain yourself behind any type of prejudiced thought, and the other one was you’re doing well, so no matter what others say, believe in yourself and do what you want.”
“Defining hip-hop is the same as trying to define love. If there are 6 billion people in the world, then there are 6 billion definitions of love, and like that, each definition of hip-hop is different for each person. Of course, it’s possible to give a dictionary definition. In 1970, there was a person called DJ Herc in South Bronx. At a party that he was hosting, he set breaks on a beat and during that break, someone would be rapping, someone would be dancing, and someone else would be doing graffiti… That’s how hip-hop was born, and they call that the 4 elements of hip-hop, but dictionary definitions like these is something anyone knows, but to explain that spirit… In one word, it’s something that can’t be explained. It’s a way that expresses me as well as being a meaning for freedom and rebelling.Because it’s something where people play and have fun with, it can have messages of peace and love placed in it. If you compare it to a Pokemon, it’s like a Ditto. Personally, hip-hop to me is the world. The world that I’m living in… It’s difficult, right? To be honest, it’s still hard for me too.”
[[istg namjoon, using a pokemon as a deep metaphor….]]
“The culture of shooting guns and doing drugs is not the actual self of hip-hop. It’s just become a by-product that appeared around hip-hop music, it’s not the actual self of hip-hop. Although there’s a certain image that pops up clearly when you think of hip-hop fashion, that’s also becoming something that’s more broad. Look at A$AP Rocky or Kanye West. They don’t wear pants that drag around any more. To understand ‘swag’, you need to understand what kind of meaning ‘making it on your own’ has in hip-hop. Making it on your own is a very cool and important concept in hip-hop. I’ll use Jay-Z as an example. Jay-Z was a drug dealer. He’s someone that sold drugs on the rooftop of a very large stadium called Barclays Center, but he succeeded and bought that building. After buying that building, he dressed up in hip-hop and then went up to the rooftop and looked down at that building. Then they took a picture of that and posted it. After seeing that, everyone died. Kya… Just how cool is that?”
[[side note, when he says “everyone died” I don’t think he meant it literally, but I could be wrong; I didn’t translate this so maybe it is literal. But I don’t think it is.]]
3. Apologising and reflecting on past mistakes:
“RM’s hello 2017” (at 6:40) Namjoon addressed how his mindset in the past has been problematic:
“I had a lot of thoughts. I did, in the beginning. When others talked about me in a criticizing way, rather, when others gave unforgivable feedback, it could be advices. Or criticism. It could be condemnation. When I heard so, I felt like this in the beginning… ‘Why? Why?’. Because I thought, I have been like this. I thought I’ve never caused any trouble or inconvenience to others. I’ve never thought that way. Because I studied hard when I was young, I worked hard on music, I performed hard. I liked playing games. That’s what consisted of my life. At school I was an obedient student. I did well at school so teachers liked me. I never fought with classmates and I was around with friends.
I’ve never thought that my behaviors or music or words could hurt others, or cause inconvenience to others. I’ve never thought that way. As I went through the year 2016 I came to think about that. My words or behaviors, regardless of my intentions, could cause troubles or hurt others feelings. In the process, I thought I need to hold responsibility for that and I need to think about such things. What I said or did would not be undone. I thought so. Then I learned how to admit myself. It was hard to admit that I could hurt others’ feelings. It took a long time. I didn’t like to admit that I was wrong. Rather than I was wrong, it was hard to admit that I could hurt others’ feelings. It was hard to admit because I’ve never felt that way.
In the beginning, when I was faced with such criticism, I thought like, ‘Why? I did it for a reason’. Now, as I said, I feel much better about my feelings and emotions. Now, when I hear something about me, even if its a criticism or condemnation, I am able to think about what made them say so. ‘What did I do wrong? What I did caused others to feel uncomfortable? What made them criticize me?’ I am now able to think like that. For now, I can’t talk about what was changed in detail. Still, I may have another chance to talk about later. Anyways, to become a better person, I need to hold responsibility for what I do. I need to change my mindset. I need to change my way of thinking if its wrong. I learned I need to hear from many people. I mean, I came to think like that. Now when I do something, I think, ‘how would people feel about my act?’ and then I take action.
That’s why I was able to release ‘Always’. The lyrics are very defensive. I wrote that a year ago when I felt stressed. A year ago, or so. I wrote the lyrics back then. I am now able to release it because I no longer feel that way. Now I feel relaxed.
Anyways, now or in the future, I want to be an artist that has good influence. I hope my music would help others. So, I decided to go in a better way. My goal for 2017 is to be mature in many ways, including my way of thinking. I want to become a person who thinks more righteously, and make greater music. Those are my goals.”
And then March 2017 he released the Change music video which touches on racism in America and the BLM movement. It gets better — Namjoon was the driving force behind this. Billboard interviewed/wrote about them multiple times and I will cite all three. In this billboard interview:
Q: Speaking of solo songs, “Change” recently came out. Rap Monster, you and Wale are talking about different-but-similar issues when South Korea and America are both having interesting political times. Did you guys have a chance to discuss your different viewpoints?
We didn’t have the time to get into it deeply, but I’m always watching the news about Trump and America; I always watch. When he first suggested a collaboration, I was like, “What should we do?” We could just do you know, a common hip-hop song, but I wanted to do a little more special. We have our political situation in Korea and the students are very angry. So, I think, if we talked about what’s going on, then we’ll have a real special collaboration. I think my guess was right and it became special.
“”Change” features Rap Monster, dubbed “RM” for the release, and Wale trading off verses about societal ills, primarily those currently causing divisiveness in the U.S. With the duo criticizing the “alt-right,” Twitter’s ability to “kill,” “racist police” and declaring “no faith in the government,” the unrestrained hip-hop track is one of the most progressive songs yet….. Though most K-pop acts shy away from politicizing their music, or even touching on seemingly controversial topics, the Rap Monster-led K-pop act has addressed politics and cultural issues in their songs on multiple occasions, with a particular focus on youth-related issues such as mental health, bullying and suicide.”
3. Never repeating mistakes
He’s never made the exact same mistake twice. He hasn’t called his English “black English” since that radio interview (other people/MCs might have, but he hasn’t to my knowledge). He hasn’t used the n-word since that Shinhwa song cover, and he hasn’t made any colorist remarks since that big debacle. He’s gotten rid of that awful debut hair, and admitted how silly it was, and he’s stopped dressing like a bad imitation of a gangster or “thug” rapper. He’s grown past it and gotten the message.
4. Regarding Sexism:
Namjoon, because he is who he is, sought further education met with MOT’s eAeon who described their encounter in tweets, translations of which were took from soompi (2016):
“1. Recently Namjoon (Rap Monster) and I met privately and had a serious long talk about the issue of misogyny. Namjoon felt shame and guilt because of the controversy and revealed to me that he is distressed and unable to sleep well due to it.
“2. So I said that misogyny is not a label or stigma that cannot be erased, but rather an obstacle in the right path that can exist within anyone. Rather than feeling like it’s unfair or painful, it’s a matter of deciding to fix it or not after discovering it within oneself.
“3. I talked about how I am also in the process of continuously fixing myself whenever I discover something I am lacking. Namjoon listened attentively and understood better than other people I have spoken to about similar topics with.
“4. I’m glad and relieved after seeing Big Hit’s statement in Donga Ilbo. Because I think the members and the company are moving toward a proper direction. What’s important is not the past or current location but rather what direction one is moving toward.”
And in another interview quoted by allkpop, which took place in later 2015 after the mixtape’s release:
The interviewer commented, “Some rappers express hip hop by dissing others, demeaning women, or harsh cursing,” and Rap Monster revealed his point of view. He said, “The hip hop culture can be very open, but if you look at it another way, it’s a closed culture that only those within it could understand.”
Rap Monster continued, “The public needs to respect that culture in part, but I think that the demeaning of women needs to be subdued.”
Namjoon didn’t stop there, he didn’t just educate himself and then decide to not make the mistake. He continued to educate himself in his limited free time — in a picture of his room/ryan plushies the book “Breaking out of the Man Box” can be seen. A summary of the book from amazon as follows:
This book tackles the collective socialization of manhood and provides an in-depth look at the experiences of boys and men. In an effort to understand the many aspects of “what it means to be a man,” Porter suggests the topic is worthy of being rethought, challenged, and even redefined. This book will help men—fathers, husbands, brothers, coworkers, etc.—unpack and correct those realities.
Breaking Out of the “Man Box” boldly exposes the connection between male socialization and the quest to end violence against women and girls. Porter provides an honest and transformative experience, empowering men to create a world where men and boys are loving and respectful—and a human race where women and girls are valued and safe. On the heels of national movements and initiatives such as the NFL’s NoMore.org, this book provides men with the knowledge and understanding to explore how to create that world.
And then on top of that, Namjoon wrote 21st Century Girls, army’s fav feminist anthem, and Not Today which mentions the “glass ceiling”. The glass ceiling is “an unofficially acknowledged barrier to advancement in a profession, especially affecting women and members of minorities.”
RM changed the lyrics to some songs for the FINAL concert:
BTS Cypher PT.3 : KILLER
While men smoke cigarettes and women cheat → While some smoke cigarettes and some cheat)
-- Above change is most likely due to criticism of misogyny
'sunglasses, hairstyle, I know why you insult me' → 'sunglasses, hairstyle, I know why you insulted me'
'I'm going to be a rap star' → 'I'm going to be myself'
봄날 (Spring Day)
'It's all winter here' → 'It's all winter there'
-- These seem to reflect the changes RM has gone through, coming to terms with his identity and happiness, and I'm very happy to see that he is able to share that growth in this way.
5. His Support for LGBT:
He openly supports gay rights.
“While listening to the popular LGBTQ anthem song “Same Love,” by Macklemore, Rap Monster left this tweet alongside it after reading the lyrics: “It’s Rap Monster. A song about homosexuality. I heard this song before but I didn’t know the lyrics, now I know them and I like the song twice as much. I recommend Macklemore & Ryan Lewis - Same Love.””
And more recently he, in the vlive chat, brought up the french film “Blue is the Warmest Color” and how much he enjoyed it. For those who don’t know, it’s a movie centered around a lesbian couple.
*he also wrote Serendipity with gender neutral pronouns on purpose to be inclusive (credit to gimmi)
Namjoon was accused of racism. So he educated himself on rap culture. He adjusted his mindset to understand that despite intentions he could still hurt people and never did those things again. He collabed with Wale to make a song that touched on racial issues in America. Namjoon was accused of sexism. He apologized. Then because he felt it was not enough, he met with a feminist and asked questions and learned about his wrong doings. He, in his spare time, bought a book on sexism and educated himself. Then on top of that, he wrote a feminist anthem AND spoke of the glass ceiling in Not Today. I will now add that Namjoon has also, consistently and at his own expense, supported LGBT rights and the general acceptance of mental illness. Since before debut (I can’t cite every instance, you’ll just have to go through all of his discography since theres so many) he has openly shared his own problems with mental illness.
There are also many other instances but it's a bit hard to combine them all since they are from different shows/interviews etc but if people want to post more and discuss, feel free too.