South Korean rapper, singer-songwriter, and producer B.I is making waves and breaking records with his highly-anticipated solo debut “illa illa.” After weeks of various teasers, B.I has finally released his first full-length album WATERFALL with a total of 12 self-written tracks. The “illa illa” music video earned the most views within 24 hours for a male solo artist debut with over 12 million YouTube views. It was also the fastest male solo artist debut music video to garner 10 million views in 22 hours.
“illa illa” marks B.I’s official solo debut after leaving the group iKON in 2019. Since returning to the music scene, he has launched his own label called 131 Label under the company IOK Music and released the single album Midnight Blue (Love Streaming) as well as the global single “Got It Like That” in collaboration with Destiny Rogers and Tyla Yaweh. B.I’s “illa illa” is a deeply personal track about overcoming his struggles portrayed by a strong beat, a soothing melody, and an enchanting chorus. Through his distinctive rapping and singing, not only can his heavy pain and loneliness be felt, but also his powerful will and motivation to move forward past his difficulties. The melancholy lyrics combined with the light-sounding song sends an uplifting and hopeful message. In “Driving Talk,” B.I expressed that this song was the first track he wrote for the album. He explained that its lyrics and composition are a bit unorganized, but full of his honest and heartfelt sentiments.
Drawing inspiration from his life and movies, B.I blends the two in the penning of the song lyrics and the shooting of the music video. In “M/V Making Film,” B.I described how he wanted to shoot the music video like a film. Though he admits that he hasn’t taken acting classes in “Audacy Check In,” he impressively conveyed his feelings in the music video. The cinematic music video begins with sounds and visuals of waves in the ocean. As if resurfacing from his hiatus, B.I emerges from the cold waters wearing a dress suit. Regaining his senses and becoming more aware of his surroundings, he reaches the seaside, sits, and lies down to rest from his troubles.
In “Countdown Live,” B.I described the meaning of the song title. The Korean title “해변 (hae-byeon)” translates to “beach” in English, whereas “illa illa” has no meaning, but can be used to represent the sounds of the waves of water washing over the sand. The translated lyrics “Oh, at the end of my sleeves is a beach” / “‘Cause I wiped out the water flowing on both cheeks” refer to how the tears he sheds become not just the water, but also the sandy shore. This imagery is captured stunningly well in the music video and reflects the outpouring of his emotions.
In “M/V Spoiler Commentary,” B.I mentioned he specifically wanted a sprinting scene. He runs frantically as if escaping from somewhere frightening. In another scene, he is engulfed in the dark clouds of a lightning storm. As the beat and energy pick up, B.I overcomes his hurt and sadness while glimpsing his road to better days. He becomes brighter and smiles while driving and playfully kicks the beach waves. Enjoying a new sense of freedom, he plays the piano, listens to his earphones, and hangs out with friends. This fluid progression of scenes captivates viewers and uplifts their spirits, emphasizing that anyone can get through their hardships. Like B.I, anyone can run happily and chase their dreams.
At the end of the music video, a different type of wave appears, mirroring the key element of water. B.I sits in the studio recording as credits begin to roll – they start as sound waves, signifying his musical tears, then mix with his birth name HANBIN KIM and IOK MUSIC x 131 LABEL. The credits continue to roll on the screen, highlighting all the people who have joined and helped him to create this beautiful masterpiece and on his continued path to improving and successfully pursuing his passions. People are like water: flowing, changing, and healing. It’s good to have B.I back in a space that feels like home where there is hope for the future.
To further connect with his fans, called IDs, and promote his album, B.I has released additional content including a refreshing “Performance Stage” video and a calming “Visualizer (Piano Ver.)” for “illa illa.” With all of these efforts, he hopes to bring comfort to those who need it and give back the appreciation and love to his supporters. Gaining popularity and recognition around the world, B.I is a global solo artist whose journey, reflected in his music, genuinely speaks to people.
Along with “illa illa,” the studio album WATERFALL contains 12 tracks based on B.I’s identity including “Daydream” featuring Lee Hi, “STAY” featuring Tablo, and “Re-Birth,” a song for his IDs.
Check out the music video and stream the entire album below!