Long before Kim Namjoon became RM, the leader of BTS, he was tearing up the underground hip hop scene under the names Runch Randa, Largo, The Nexist, and Stealo.
RM started rapping in 2007, and during this time he was active on Jungle Radio, an underground hip hop cafe. From 2007 to around 2010 (when he joined Big Hit Entertainment) RM posted his earliest raps here. Many of these raps, which RM deleted sometime in 2010, survived thanks to fans who had reposted them elsewhere.
In a 2015 interview with Singles magazine, RM talked about some of his past work. Although he couldn’t remember the title of the first lyrics he ever wrote, he remembered writing them in September 2007.
It was in September 2007. I created a song through an amateur producer’s beat on Jungle Radio, but I believe it was influenced by Eminem at the time. “Put away the unhappiness mixed with bluffs, and knock down dominoes, I plan to go out like this.” Something like that.
In 2007, he also participated in his first collaboration, with LUPE. Newer fans may not be aware that LUPE is CHANGMO, the artist who featured on “Wine”, aka the song Suga produced for Suran. From 2007 to 2008, CHANGMO and RM were part of the Black Pirates crew.
After leaving Black Pirates, RM released new music under the names Largo, The Nexist, and his most obscure rapper name, Stealo. He mentioned the first two names on Bon Voyage 2. One surviving Largo song is “LaLaLa”, but fans will be hard-pressed to find any Stealo jams!
In 2009, Supreme Boi, Kyum2, and Marvel J joined the underground scene, formed DaeNamHyup (DNH), and became RM’s friends and collaborators. Supreme Boi later joined Big Hit Entertainment as a producer and has worked on BTS songs, such as “Baepsae” and “Cypher Pt. 3”.
In 2009, RM also auditioned to join the Big Deal Squad, but did not win a spot. He did, however, perform with Big Deal Squad’s Dead’p, and this performance caught the attention of Untouchable‘s Sleepy. Sleepy later passed on RM’s contact information to Big Hit Entertainment.
In May 2010, RM got a call from Sleepy, who suggested that he should meet up with Bang Si Hyuk, the CEO of Big Hit Entertainment. In an interview, producer Pdogg said that Bang Si Hyuk signed RM without a specific spot for him in mind. Later trainees had to go through a 3 month evaluation period before they were signed.
RM was the company’s first male trainee, and the first person to move into Big Hit Entertainment’s first-ever dorms in 2010.
During the time between his contract signing and BTS’s formation, RM kept making connections and creating music. He performed with Zico…
…and he recorded songs with Iron, who was a contender for BTS at the time.
Between 2011 and 2012, BTS went through several lineup changes, but by the end of 2012 the BTS we know today was formed and working toward their 2013 debut.
Fast forward six years and RM is the leader of one of the biggest music acts on the planet! He’s come a long way from his Runch Randa days, but his underground journey helped him to become the fantastic artist we know and love.