Although this album came out in January, I did not seriously notice this album before. I originally thought this whole EP was just another rap/hip hop album talking about wealth, power and popularity. After listening to this EP a couple of times, it showed to have more potential and creativity then I thought. It is noticeable after reading all the lyrics of each and every song in order, you notice that this is in fact a concept album. One aspect that really stands out in Season of Suffering is the lyrics and the ideas that are shown musically through his vocals and tones as well as the overall sound of each song. Every single song on this mini album is completely different.
The first song is actually an arrogant song with lyrics that I expect every rap/hip hop artist to compose which is a reason I did not really like this song that much but this is how San E constructed this album. The second track, “Seoul, or the 120 days of Sodom” was pretty dark musically and lyrically. The chanting in the beginning of the song and all the lyrics relate to the concept of corruption/people of high social class and how much it also has to do with sex, drugs and power(topic of social hierarchy is mentioned more in “Lost in Myself”). At first glance this title was different and weird but I later found out it had do with the controversial book 120 days of Sodom. Although San E does not directly address the topic of sexual abuse, child prostitution and all the other topics that are mentioned in the book that show how sickening and fucked up humanity can be, he without a doubt brings up the topic of wealth, rank/power and sex. While reading the lyrics you can obviously notice he is also talking about his own personal experiences through some of the topics.
The third song “Counselor (카운셀러)” is probably one of my favorite songs from him. Although the beat is pretty simple, the lyrics and dialogue pauses are what really intrigued me and I am sure for other people also. Although a lot of artists have talked about fame and the music industry and how it affected them, this is probably the first time I have heard a portrayal like this.
The fourth song “Lost in Myself” is probably the the song that directly takes about the social hierarchy system in this day in age. Like in “Counselor” he also talks about his problems and how he is trapped and does not know what to do. Although I did not mind the lyrics, I found it was one of the weakest songs on the album when it came to the rhythm and beat of the track.
As for “Bad Year (나쁜X)”, I especially liked the upbeat sound of the song. To my surprise the lyrics were not what I expected. Straight to the point he talks about how horrible 2016 was. Although it was said by countless people that the song was about dissing the Korean president, it was hard for me to notice because he did it in a way that I specifically could not have known unless I knew the Korean language or research on the Korean president. Even though San E used word plays to express himself, the listeners definitely understood. Even though the lyrics were kind of repetitive, the simplicity of the lyrics combined with the weirdly upbeat sound made this track different, making this song feel like a let us forget this year and move forward with the new year ahead vibe.
When it comes to “I am Me”, this song would be considered the typical mainstream sounding song on the album according to many people. This track was without a doubt a fun dance and funky song. As a part of his concept, it was weird to have this track included as one of his solutions. It kind of had nothing to do with the EP but I was glad he incorporated this upbeat and refreshing song after all his gloomy songs.
For the last track “Ready-Made(Marcel Duchamp)” was weirdly catchy when it came to the chorus. It was very creative to start the song with a prayer and conceptually interesting to know that his solution and what got him through his hardships was his religion, but also his friends and family. How he incorporated the idea of the ready-made concept by the artist Marcel Duchamp into his song was unexpected.
Overall this EP was captivating. Although they are completely different sounds, San E’s Season of Suffering kind of reminded me of Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly. One aspect of the album that I would have like to have been better is the rhythm of each song. They consistently stay at the same beat especially with “I Can Go All Day”, “Seoul, or the 120 days of Sodom” and “Counselor”. Although I was hoping he would have made a full album, it was said this project would probably continue with another 3 EP’s to represent the 3 seasons. I would rate this EP a good 8 out of 10 for it’s unique sound and I hope to hear more from San E soon.
What did you all think of San E’s Season of Suffering?