Posted by eric_r_wirsing AKP STAFF Friday, March 30, 2018

[MV & Album Review] Stray Kids 'I am NOT'

Stray Kids


Track List:

1. NOT!
2. District 9
3. Mirror
4. Awaken
6. Grow Up
7. 3rd Eye

After years of training and created through the survival program of the same name, the boys of Stray Kids have officially debuted, dropping their first mini-album 'I Am NOT.' The MV for their title track "District 9" just broke the record for the most views for a debut vid in 24 hours. They put a lot of themselves into this EP, participating in the composing and writing of every song. The members are Bang Chan, Woojin, Lee Know, Changbin, Hyunjin, Han, Felix, Seungmin, and I.N.

"NOT!" is a reflective track, with a piping synth distorted at times. They talk about being confused, and then finally being able to see their lives clearly in the darkness. "District 9" is the title track, and so worthy of the name. This is a pounding banger that grabs you by the jugular and doesn't let go. I love the fierceness and the feeling of power in this tune. 

From the explosive chorus to the blistering breakdowns, this is a serious jam. The third track, "Mirror," starts out promising. They almost out-MONSTA X here in the main verses. The sad thing is that the chorus is more traditional pop, and makes it less than original. While it smooths out the rough edges, it blunts the impact some.  "Awaken" is absolutely guaranteed to wake you up, with a crunchy guitar and plenty of hip-hop. Mercifully, the only soft parts are in the pre-chorus and bridge. Everything else is just pure, beautiful energy.

"ROCK" is not entirely pure rock, but there are some definite nods to it. It has some things in common with nu-metal, and that's not a bad thing at all. This is more playful than the other tunes on here, and all the elements just make this song pop. "Grow Up" is one of those epic feel-good tunes, the uplifting lyrics along with some feeling of expansiveness in the melody, and a more traditional song structure. It's still entirely listenable, despite the fact that this appears to be a trend. 

"3rd Eye" reminded me a lot of BTS' "Blooming Youth," at least in the beginning. After the actual instrumentation and singing, that's where it diverged. It also wasn't as emotional on reflection. But it was fun... if a bit disjointed.

So this is Stray Kids, I have to say that they have an interesting sound. As I said, some of their songs reminded me of other bands, but that's not necessarily a bad thing, it's mostly just a particular style. The tunes on here are pretty awesome with pounding beats, insolent synths, and overall fantastic vibes. They were supposed to be fairly wild and free, and their sound mirrors that concept quite well. Here's to a good debut, and may they have the best of luck in future comebacks.


The MV is kind of a mixed bag. There are shots with some beautiful cyberpunk high-tech muddled up with other scenes that aren't as awesome as they could be. Like there are shots on the bus that are meant to have the boys looking bad-ass, but you can't forget that the scenery is practically non-existent here. Yet, in the closing scenes, they're dancing in some wrecked yard, with steel fences and burning cars. True, it's not meant to be high art, but it might have been better if we had some faux scenery outside the bus windows.

The dancing is also a mixed bag. Sometimes it seems as if they're barely moving, and then they drop and start doing some b-boying moves. So they switch up on us again, just like with the scenery. At least the cool dance moves make up for some of the other uninspired choreo.

Still, the momentum of the MV is sped along by the awesomeness of the song. I'm a huge fan of the promotional single "District 9," and that's probably why I didn't entirely hate the MV. Regardless of what I was watching, that insistent tune kept pounding in my skull and made the time pass quickly. Nice job.


MV Relevance...........7
MV Production..........7
MV Concept..............7

Album Production.....9
Album Concept.........9


  1. Stray Kids
  2. I-AM-NOT
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