Most famously known as Suga from BTS — but also by the solo moniker Agust D, as well as birth name Min Yoongi — the artist who works as a rapper, singer, producer, dancer, fashion muse and NBA ambassador wants to remind listeners that, above all, he is a human.

Today, April 7, marks the return of Agust D, the name Suga uses when releasing solo projects away from BTS, with the new single “People Pt.2” featuring K-pop superstar IU. Not only does it mark the duo’s latest collaboration after teaming for the No. 1 hit on Billboard‘s World Digital Song Sales chart “Eight” from May 2020, it also acts as an extension from “People,” a fan-favorite cut from Agust D’s D-2 mixtape released that same month. While the original “People” saw Suga reflecting on himself and meditating on how others judge and change, Part 2 longs for connection with others.

As multifaceted as Suga’s world is, loneliness is a permanent source of inspiration and intrigue for the 30-year-old. Hours before “People Pt.2” drops worldwide, his call with Billboard occurs alongside multiple international teams who work around the clock for Suga and BIGHIT MUSIC artists. Some are beside him physically, others via Zoom connection virtually — but loneliness remains a muse for the star, assisting him in searching within and speaking to listeners in larger, universal ways.

Since its debut, BTS’ musical appeal has reached globally largely through the septet’s extended metaphors and imagery, translating into accessible storytelling alongside boundary-pushing compositions and choreography. Suga’s range of material is vast, after producing on essentially every BTS album, not to mention scoring high-profile collaborations with everyone from Halsey and Juice WRLD to Epik High and Japan’s ØMI. But now, he’s emphasizing the topics that move him personally — and ensuring he’s properly heard.

Despite an already packed spring and summer with album promo, his solo world tour, ambassadorship duties and a YouTube series, Suga cheekily closes out our chat (“Yeah, it’s f–king busy,” he says with a wink) since he has no time to waste. Read on as he narrows in on the release of “People Pt.2” and all that’s led up to this reflective pop/hip-hop collaboration.

We’re hours away from the release of “People Pt.2,” your official return as Agust D for your D-Day album. Is there a different mindset when you prepare music as Agust D versus solo or as SUGA alongside BTS?

SUGA: They’re all music made by the person called Min Yoongi. So, I don’t actually have a very different mindset for each moniker — but I would say that the purposes could be somewhat different. Ultimately, the goal of releasing this music is for as many people to listen to my music as possible. So, “People Pt.2” was made thinking about how people will receive Agust D’s music, which is why we also featured IU. It’s kind of a trial to release this music under the name Agust D. I’m actually a little bit worried.

“People Pt.2” (featuring IU) of course follows up “People” from the D-2 mixtape. What was important about continuing this story with IU?

SUGA: This is a story that you’ll personally love: The title wasn’t originally “People Pt.2.” Actually, “People” from D-2 is personally my favorite song — and we actually worked on “People Pt.2” three years ago. When I was releasing my pictorial [Photo-Folio Wholly or Whole Me] photo shoot, the company actually revealed the guide [demo] version and gave a glimpse of it to the public. But anyway, it was already finished when we were working on D-2 so I was thinking, “Oh, I should release this, I should release this.” But we had to get on with “Butter” and “Dynamite” so we didn’t get the chance.

Originally, the title was “Sara (사라),” without the “M (ㅁ)” consonant in Korean — because that’s, like, one consonant less than the word “saram (사람),” which is Korean for “people.” Depending on whichever consonant you put at the end of the word sara (사라), it can become “saram (사람)” and “people,” or it can become “sarang 사랑,” or “love” in Korean. So, it’s the listener’s choice to put which consonant you want at the end of “sara” (사라). But I had my friend listen to this son and people heard it as “sal-ah (살아)” which kind of means “live” in Korean and I was like, “This is not going to work.” So, we finalized the title to be “People” in the end.

And some people call me August D, some people call me Ah-gust D, but I’m actually Agust D. So, you know, people take my name differently and we had to sync the person SUGA and Agust D. This is a song that kind of matches that sync. We need that bridge and sync between my mixtape and this official solo album. In order to put that sync together, I had to make this a very pop song. We didn’t try to make the music video that intense — and, in that sense, IU really played an important role in doing that. I also think this is a genre that I can do best, this pop-focused song.

There’s this sync between songs, but the themes and lyrics are very different, right? “People” was self-reflective and examined other people’s judgments, but “People Pt.2” seems more about connection and fighting loneliness. What most differentiates the two in your mind?

SUGA: In the past — and I’ve always said this in my interviews — personally, I think loneliness is being together in modern society. I always talk about loneliness in my interviews, but regretfully, it isn’t always in the final interview. Not only me, everyone has this loneliness inside them until the moment they die. However deep you are in a relationship, how much you engage with other people, how many friends you meet, or how often you meet with your family, you always have the loneliness inside.

So, I started with this keyword of “loneliness” three years ago, and I wouldn’t say there’s much difference in that everybody can feel pain and agonized. It’s the same with me. Whether it’s me from BTS, SUGA, Min Yoongi, or Agust D, I always have that inside me too. People might see me as someone who wouldn’t have any concerns or worries or that I don’t feel any agony, but I feel those emotions too. I’m trying to find a way to fight those and overcome those too.

This album doesn’t really finalize everything in its message either. So, there might be a possibility there could be a “Part 3” later on. For now, we’re just trying to say, “Let’s not hate each other. Let’s find a way.”

I like that — because even in the Road to D-Day documentary trailer, there’s a moment you say you frequently consider quitting music. But when people come together, it makes you realize you can do it and have fun. Does this tie into themes of “People Pt.2”?

SUGA: This is kind of a difficult topic, because I started making music and writing lyrics [when] I was 11 or 12 years old. I’ve been making music for all these years, and now I’m 30. It wasn’t easy writing “People Pt.2,” and the album overall, but people really don’t know the whole process of that. Even though I’d been making music more than half of my life — and I’m just saying this because you understand this, Jeff — when we first started in the K-pop scene, we were in this ambiguous position of not being accepted as musicians and not being accepted as idols either. But the musicians close to me know that I’m very serious and sincere in music and that I’m a very natural person.

So, the documentary started as I just wanted to capture and show this process. It started with the purpose of showing SUGA as a producer and songwriter, but it kind of ended up having the worldview of an album-making process. I tried to show the normal, individual side of me as much as possible, but as I am a Korean idol, or K-idol, a lot of scenes were edited out; there were more of those natural scenes and some very good scenes that couldn’t make it in the final version. The documentary and “People Pt.2” try to reveal the natural side of the human Min Yoongi. I just wanted to show that I am this humane person. I am just a human.

You need to release your “Director’s Cut” one day. While D-Day and the documentary are coming, I want to congratulate you on the worldwide release of D-2 and Agust D this week. My favorite song, “Agust D” with the sample of “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World,” was finally added to streaming too. You shared how J. Cole approved BTS’ “Born Singer” sample, what can you share about the process with James Brown‘s estate?

SUGA: I released Agust D when I was still very young, so, even as I listen to it now, it kind of sounds immature — if you listen to the tone, the rap itself wasn’t very organized, I wanted to do a lot of things at that time. It just kind of keeps going very tightly and quickly. But after doing so much various and diverse music, I think that people love the songs that have been released more recently than the songs that were released back then. So, I kind of dare say that people are starting to recognize and acknowledge these songs now. Since the musician actually passed away, I think it was the family who decided to acknowledge it.

Same thing with [clearing] “Born Sinner” — and I don’t know what the path was for the musician themselves, but it was clear. And I take it as that I, as BTS, and Min Yoongi, and SUGA, and Agust D, was acknowledged as a musician. I’m really not thinking that broader consumers or audiences will accept it, because it’s not really popular music. Still, I would dare assume that it’s getting cleared because we’re finally getting recognized as musicians.

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