Kim Nam-joon (Korean김남준; born September 12, 1994),[1] better known as RM (formerly Rap Monster), is a South Korean rapper, songwriter, and record producer. He is the leader and a rapper in the South Korean boy group BTS, managed under Big Hit Entertainment. In 2015, he released his first solo mixtape, RM. As of October 2018, his second mixtape, Mono, is the highest charting album by a Korean soloist on the Billboard 200 chart, having peaked at 26. He has recorded with artists such as Wale, Warren G, Gaeko, Krizz Kaliko, MFBTY, Fall Out Boy, Primary, and Lil Nas X.

RM looks to the right, in front of a microphone
Kim Nam-joon

(1994-09-12) September 12, 1994 (age 25)
Dongjak-gu, Seoul, South Korea
  • Rapper
  • songwriter
  • record producer
Years active2010 (2010)–present
Home townIlsan-gu, South Korea
AwardsROK Order of Cultural Merit Hwa-gwan (5th Class) ribbon.PNG Hwagwan Order of Cultural Merit (2018)
Musical career
LabelsBig Hit
Associated acts
Korean name
Revised RomanizationGim Nam-jun
McCune–ReischauerKim Namchun
RM signature.svg

Early life

Kim Nam-joon (Korean김남준) was born on September 12, 1994, in Dongjak-gu, South Korea, and grew up in Ilsan-gu, where his family moved when he was four or five.[2][3][4] He is the elder of two siblings and has a younger sister.[5]

As a child, RM largely learned English through watching Friends with his mother.[6][7] As a student, he actively wrote poetry and often received awards for his writings.[8] He posted his work to an online poetry website for roughly one year, where he received moderate attention. Through this, RM grew interested in pursuing a literary career but decided against it.[8] At the age of 11, RM became interested in hip-hop music after hearing Epik High's "Fly" in fifth grade.[9] He found that the song had provided him comfort, and, due to this, decided to look further into the genre. Following an introduction to American rapper Eminem by his school teacher, RM grew interested in lyricism, printing lyrics he felt were "cool" and sharing them with his friends. RM transitioned to writing lyrics then, stating that his poetry became lyrics when it combined with music. In 2007, as a first year middle school student, RM began rapping in local amateur hip-hop circles, creating his first self-composed recording for the first time using the program Adobe Audition (then called Cool Edit). He later participated in his first concert in 2008.[8] RM eventually became more active in the underground Korean hip-hop scene under the moniker "Runch Randa", releasing a number of tracks and collaborations with other underground rappers, such as Zico.[10]

In school, RM scored in the top 1% of the nation in the university entrance examinations for language, math, foreign language and social studies and had an IQ of 148.[11] RM's parents were strongly opposed to his interest in a musical career due to his academic achievements, and initially RM decided to set music aside to focus on his studies. In order to convince his mother to allow him to be a rapper, he asked her if "she wanted to have a son who was a first-place rapper, or a 5,000th-place student".[8]


RM selected the name "Rap Monster" during his time as an idol trainee. Though commonly misunderstood that the name means that he "raps like a monster", it actually derives from the lyrics of a song he wrote, inspired by San E's "Rap Genius". The lyrics contained a segment where San E declares he should be called a "rap monster" as he "raps non-stop".[8] He adopted the stage name because he felt it was "cool".[12] RM has described himself as having a love-hate relationship with the name, feeling that it was not selected for being of "incredible value" to him.[8]

He formally changed his stage name to "RM" in November 2017, as he determined that "Rap Monster" was no longer representative of who he was or the music that he creates.[13] In an interview with Entertainment Tonight RM stated that "[the name] could symbolize many things. It could have more spectrums to it." "Real Me" was provided as a possible current meaning.[12]


2010–2013: Big Hit Entertainment and debut with BTS

In 2009, RM auditioned for Big Deal Records, passing the first round along with Samuel Seo but failing the second round as he forgot all his lyrics.[8] However, following the audition, rapper Sleepy exchanged contact information with RM, who he later mentioned to Big Hit Entertainment producer Pdogg.[14] In 2010, Sleepy contacted RM, encouraging him to audition for Big Hit CEO Bang Si-hyuk. Bang offered RM a spot at the record label, and, without his parents knowledge, RM accepted the offer immediately.[8] The interaction caused Bang and Pdogg to start production of a hip hop group, which eventually became idol group BTS.[15] RM joined Big Hit Entertainment shortly after at age 16.[16] During his career as an idol, he enrolled at Global Cyber University.[17]

RM trained for three years with fellow rapper Min Yoon-gi and dancer Jung Ho-seok, who later became known as Suga and J-Hope respectively.[18][19] During his three-year trainee period, RM performed on five pre-debut tracks credited to BTS in 2010 and 2011.[citation needed] He also worked as a songwriter for girl group Glam and helped pen their debut single, "Party (XXO)", an explicitly pro-LGBTQ song which was praised by Billboard as "one of the most forward-thinking songs out of a K-pop girl group in the past decade."[20] On June 13, 2013, RM made his debut with BTS,[21] and has since produced and written lyrics for a variety of tracks on all of BTS' albums. On August 29, 2013, RM performed the intro track to BTS' first extended play O!RUL8,2?, which was released as a trailer ahead of the EP's September 11 release and marked his first solo released collectively as "BTS".[22]

2014–2016: First solo collaborations, RM, and Problematic Men

RM performing with BTS on Show Champion, July 2015.

On August 5, 2014, Big Hit Entertainment released a trailer for BTS' first studio album Dark & Wild, which was set to release on the August 20. The rap track, later released as collectively under BTS "Intro: What Am I to You?", was a solo performed by RM.[23] Through reality television show American Hustle Life that was used to produce Dark & Wild,[24] RM formed a working relationship with Warren G, who offered to give BTS a beat.[25] In an interview with Korean magazine Hip Hop Playa, Warren G stated that he had befriended BTS through the program and had kept in touch with the band after they returned to South Korea.[26] On March 4, 2015, RM released a single with Warren G entitled, "P.D.D (Please Don't Die)" ahead of his first solo mixtape RM, following an offer by Warren G to collaborate.[25][27] This track reflected how RM felt towards those who hated and criticized him at the time, which he used to find very upsetting.[26]

That same March, RM collaborated with hip hop project group MFBTY along with EE and Dino J as a feature for the song "Bucku Bucku". He featured in the music video for "Bucku Bucku," and also had a cameo in another MFBTY music video for their song, "Bang Diggy Bang Bang".[11][28] RM first formed a lasting working relationship with MFBTY member Tiger JK during a TV show in 2013 when Tiger JK was promoting his song "The Cure", telling the rapper that he grew up listening to him.[29]

RM was cast as a regular on the Korean variety program Problematic Men where cast members are given a variety of puzzles and problems to solve and work through them by talking about their own thoughts and experiences. The program began airing on February 26, 2015, however RM left the show after 22 episodes due to BTS' 2015 Red Bullet world tour.[30][31]

On March 17, 2015, RM released his first solo mixtape, RM, which ranked 48th on Spin's "50 Best Hip Hop Albums of 2015".[32] The mixtape featured a variety of topics such as RM's past on the track "Voice" and the idea that "you're you and I'm me" in the track "Do You".[26] When discussing his work on the track "God Rap", RM described himself as an atheist, believing that the only thing that determines his fate was himself.[25] The entirety of his work on the mixtape took around four or five months, with RM working on it in between BTS' activities.[8] The following year, RM recalled that he had largely written about the negative emotions he had been carrying, such as anger and rage, but stated that the songs are not "100% under [his] sovereignty" and that he felt many parts of the mixtape were "immature". He also added that he hoped his next mixtape to be something he worked on by himself.[8] Following the mixtape, RM featured along with Kwon Jin-ah on Primary's "U" that April.[11] That August, RM collaborated with Marvel for Fantastic Four's soundtrack in Korea, releasing the digital single, "Fantastic" featuring Mandy Ventrice through Melon, Genie, Naver Music and other music sites.[33] In August 2016, vocal duo Homme released a single titled "Dilemma" which was co-produced by RM and Bang Si-hyuk.[34]

2017–present: Second mixtape Mono and further collaborations

In March 2017, RM collaborated with American rapper Wale on a special socially-charged track called "Change", released as a free digital download along with an accompanying music video filmed about two weeks prior to the track's release.[35][36] The pair first formed a relationship over Twitter with Wale reaching out to RM in 2016, having seen RM's cover of his track "Illest Bitch".[37] RM decided on the topic of "Change", saying that though the two rappers were extremely different, their commonality lay in the fact that both America and Korea had their political and social situations and both of them wanted the world to change for the better.[38] A month later, RM featured on the track "Gajah" with Gaeko of Dynamic Duo.[39] That December, RM collaborated on a remix of Fall Out Boy's song "Champion".[40] The track reached number 18 on Billboard's Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles, and helped RM reach number 46 on the Emerging Artists Chart for the week of January 8, 2018.[41][42] On December 27, RM made history as the first K-pop artist to chart on the Rock Digital Songs chart, coming in at number two on the list.[43]

In 2018, RM released his second mixtape entitled Mono that October, which he referred to as a "playlist".[44] He became the first Korean artist to rank number one on the Emerging Artists Chart in the United States with the playlist.[45] The playlist was critically well received, with RM laying "his deep insecurities bare on songs like 'Tokyo' and 'Seoul'".[46] The track "Seoul" was produced by British electropop duo Honne. Honne first discovered RM after seeing him recommend their music on Twitter, and eventually met him in Seoul following one of their concerts. The interaction caused the duo to want to collaborate with RM.[47] That November, RM also collaborated with Tiger JK on his last and final album as Drunken Tiger before retiring the name, featuring on the track "Timeless". Tiger JK originally expected RM's lyrics to contain self praise, which was the trend of rap at the time, but RM wrote the lyrics to leave behind the historical meaning of Drunken Tiger's name.[48]

On March 25, 2019, Honne announced that RM had provided a feature on their remake of "Crying Over You" alongside singer BEKA, which was released on March 27.[49] Honne had originally released "Crying Over You" in 2018, with just BEKA providing a feature. The song was originally slated for a January 2019 release but was postponed due to "unforeseen circumstances".[50] Chinese singer Bibi Zhou was added to the Chinese release, appearing with RM and replacing BEKA.[51] The same day, Big Hit Entertainment released the song "Persona" as a trailer for BTS' EP Map of the Soul: Persona, performed as a solo by RM.[52] Persona debuted at 17 on Billboard's YouTube Song Chart.[53] Three months later, on July 24, 2019, RM featured on the fourth official remix of Lil Nas X's "Old Town Road," entitled "Seoul Town Road", "infuse[ing]...his English-language verse with a surprisingly good Southern twang".[54][55] On December 29, it was announced that RM would be featuring on Younha's track "Winter Flower", which was released on January 6, 2020.[56]


In 2017, American hip-hop magazine XXL released a list entitled "10 Korean Rappers You Should Know", which included RM. Writer Peter A. Berry promises that "Rap Monster rarely fails to live up to his name." He describes the young star as "one of the region’s most dexterous rappers, capable of switching flows effortlessly as he glides across an array of diverse instrumentals."[57]

Critics stated his first mixtape "takes listeners on a roller coaster narrative of confidence and uncertainty that comes with self-discovery."[58] Crystal Tai from South China Morning Post stated RM received a lot of praise for his natural flow and lyrics and that he's got some "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy mixed with Earl Sweatshirt and Chance the Rapper" in him.[16]

In January 2020, RM was promoted along with the fellow BTS member J-hope to join with Suga as the full member of the Korea Music Copyright Association.


In a survey conducted by Gallup Korea RM ranked at the 12th most preferred idol of the year for 2018.[59] In 2018, he was awarded the fifth-class Hwagwan Order of Cultural Merit by the President of South Korea along with the other members of BTS, for his contributions to Korean culture.[60]





Year Network Title Role Episode(s) Note Ref
2014 Mnet 4things Show - Rap Monster Himself 3 Documentary about Rap Monster [61]
2015 tvN Hot Brain: Problematic Men Cast member 1-22 Quiz/knowledge show [62]
SBS Inkigayo Host N/A with Sungjae (BtoB) [64]
2016 MBig TV Close-up Observation Diary on Idol: Find Me Himself 2 Reality show about his daily life [65]
KBS Gura-Chacha: Time Slip - New Boy Cast member Pilot Reality show [66]
SBS Inkigayo Host N/A with Jin, Kei & Mijoo (Lovelyz) [67]
with Jin [68]
Mnet KCON New York with Ailee [69]
2017 M Countdown with J-Hope & Jimin [70]

Music videos

Year Title Length Director(s) Note Ref
2013 "Perfect Christmas" 3:45 Unknown with Jungkook, Jo Kwon, Lim Jeong-hee, & Jo Hee (8eight) [71]
2015 "Do You" 3:08 Woo-gie Kim (GDW) [72]
"Awakening" 2:40 Unknown
"Joke" 3:19
"P.D.D" 4:18 with Warren G [71]
"Fantastic" 3:56 featuring Mandy Ventrice [73]
2017 "Change" 4:49 Beom-jin (VM Project Architecture) with Wale [74]
2018 "forever rain" 4:28 Choi Jae-hoon Animation [75]
"seoul" 4:33 Yong-seok Choi (Lumpens) Lyric video [76]
"moonchild" 3:38 [77]

Trailers and short films

Year Title Length Director(s) Note Ref.
2013 "Intro:O!RUL8,2" 1:21 Unknown Animation [78]
2014 "Intro:What Am I To You?" 2:53 [79]
2016 "Reflection #5" 3:02 Yong-seok Choi (Lumpens) [80]
2019 "Persona" 2:58 Comeback trailer [82]


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External links

  •   Media related to RM at Wikimedia Commons