I think it’s fair to say that for a couple of years, I’ve been living under a rock, and that’s because from here, under my giant monolith, we only listened to the second generation and some third generation groups. But that all changed when I was recommended to listen to Stray Kids. Not knowing much about them, I immersed myself in his musical repertoire and listened to Mixtape, their first EP (Extended Play).
Mixtape was released in 2018 as a prelude to the group; a taste before their official debut a few months later. Back then, JYP defined the Stray Kids members as diamonds in the rough, and he was not mistaken. The album is composed of 7 songs that are influenced by the genres of Hip Hop and EDM. In this work, the members were involved in the entire creation process, both in the lyrics and the sound; which makes it a deep and emotional work within the group’s discography. Being the central topic of the album: the start of Stray Kids as Stray Kids ‘trainees’ and not as global superstars. For this reason, in this album, they tell us about their fears, insecurities, their passion for music, and their future dreams. All told from their perspective before achieving fame and using the voice of each member of the group.
When I listened to the album for the first time, the sound and the vocals were the protagonists of the experience, until I read the lyrics. Poignant, energetic, fragile, and real. I couldn’t help but fall for the album. It was easy to be fascinated, and then, as if it had been written that way, the album turned into a play inside my head. It is made up of three main acts, which with each song guide you into the history of Stray Kids and how the path they chose makes them suffer, but at the same time laugh and continue dreaming of a future.
Therefore, I invite you to adventure with me, whether it’s your first time listening to them or you’ve been Stay for a long time. Let’s enjoy Stray Kids together.
For a better experience, click on the song and listen to it while you read about it! 😎🎶
FIRST ACT: THE MEET
The first act is made up of two songs, which are Hellevator and Beware. Both work as the introduction to the album, introducing us to the world of being ‘trainees’ and of being young with a dream. Aggressive and powerful.
Hellevator has a pop and electronic sound that captivates you from the start and explodes in your mind once it hits the chorus. The lyrics talk about the effort put into reaching a goal and how this effort can also cause pain. Because even if one has chosen that path, there will always be doubts, loneliness, and uncertainty about the future. If we put it all together, we can say that whoever sings it is on their way to hell, and in this case, the group clearly says that they use an elevator, because it may be overwhelming, but they are going straight to success.
In the case of Beware, this is a direct warning. It is a song with a strident rhythm and rebellious lyrics. We can say it is a loud statement, where the group warns that they have come to win. And at the same time, it expresses the confusion of growing up and making your own rules. This song has soul and power because that’s what they were, young people talking about finding their place in the world and warning that they wouldn’t stop until they did.
SECOND ACT: FEARS, DESIRES, DREAMS, AND INSECURITIES
The second act is made up of four songs that touch on the four sub-themes of the album which are fears, longings, desires, and insecurities.
First, we have Spread My Wings, a song that talks about this strange stage where you are not a child anymore, but you are not an adult either. It deepens the feeling of insecurity due to the lack of life experience and at the same time expresses the longing to be an adult and the insecurities that truly being one entails. It’s a song that made me remember my beginning stage in college. When I wanted to have more freedom, but, at the same time, I didn’t know if I could handle all the responsibilities. Even now, as an adult, I wonder if I can spread my wings and fly.
Next, we have Yayaya, which is about wishing for a bright and successful future, in an anxious and competitive world. It’s about the confidence to do what one must do no matter what. The song is direct and somewhat irreverent, as it is not afraid to tell us what we do not want to hear. It may not seem like it, but despite its energy, this song also expresses fear. And for me, the biggest fear it expresses is about losing yourself on the way to the top.
Then we have Glow, a melodic ballad, which is without a doubt the group’s most personal song on this album because in it they speak to us in confidence and tell us how they run towards their dreams without stopping. They express how their wish placed them in a maze from which they only have a map to get out, and they have been running for years, preparing for the big moment and at this point, when they are close to achieve it, they only think about resting. They sweetly express their insecurities, because in the end, they don’t know how far they will go, because they are sure of what they have done well so far, but will it be enough?
Finally, there is School Life, which talks about the monotony of the daily routine, being the song with the most storytelling on the album, because it tells a story through metaphors that express the daily routine. For me, this song expresses that feeling of ambiguity and desire, where you don’t know where you’re going, but you know where you want to be. And they express it in a fun way, which makes us reflect on them. Because school life, for many of us, became monotonous and we ended up wishing for a different tomorrow.
THIRD ACT: IT IS NOT A GOODBYE, BUT A SEE YOU SOON
The third and last act is made up of 4419, a song that talks about change and growing up. They use the metaphor of a daily bus trip with a friend to portray how we end up longing for yesterday. It’s a song about them and how despite their fears, insecurities, desires, and regardless of time passing, Stray Kids will continue to be themselves. They will remember the beautiful moments they had in their time as trainees while facing their bright future. With this song they say goodbye, and end their ‘trainee’ era, but at the same time, they hint at a beginning. Because back then they were young rookies, but they have put a lot of effort into becoming one of the best groups of the 4th generation, and despite everything, they have come to win.
Mixtape is an easy-to-listen album, full of emotion, rhythm, and soul. I liked how they used seven songs to immerse us in their world and tell us their story. It has been quite easy to get hooked on the songs. My favorites have been Beware, because of how powerful it is, and Glow because it is emotional and makes me cry every time I hear it.
What did you think of the album? And what has been your favorite song? I would like to read you.
Written by: Marisol Montiel
Review by: Luisa Quintero
Stray Kids. Mixtape. (2018). [Imagen de archivo]. Spotify. Spotify – Mixtape
Mar96Ra. Hellevator. [Imagen de archivo]. Pinterest. Pinterest
Safesky Chan. A lyrics from Stray Kids song YAYAYA [Imagen de archivo]. Pinterest. Pinterest
Lightbulb. Bus 4419. [Imagen de archivo]. Pinterest. Pinterest
Bookworm. GLOW inspirational lyric. [Imagen de archivo]. Pinterest. Pinterest
I think this is one of the most beautiful ways to explain the mixtape album. As someone who’s adored them a while but is still fairly recent, I never thought of it in this way. Thank you. I truly admire people who can break down music and interpret it in a way they meant to express it. This also made me admire them even more <3