G-Dragon (GD) is a multifaceted star with immense global influence - singer-songwriter, rapper, producer, fashion icon, leader of K-Pop phenomenon, Big Bang. Four years after his last album (COUP D’ETAT), GD introduces KWON JI YONG, a self-titled album that explores a lesser-known angle: the man behind G-Dragon.
ACT III: M.O.T.T.E (Moment of Truth, The End) takes us deeper into the mind of GD in a personal journey of pain, growth and self-discovery, delivered with a considerable level of artistry, flair and undeniable swag.
ACT 1: G-Dragon
Divided into three acts, the first is a trip down memory lane with well-loved tracks from his early years such as Heartbreaker, Breathe and A Boy. In a slightly cryptic video montage, the audience is treated to flashes of busy Korea, brain scans and eventually a faltering heart rate which revives shortly later. Something has died and something has been born. One could interpret this as the birth of G-Dragon and possibly, the death of Kwon Ji Yong.
ACT 2: G-Dragon vs. Kwon Ji Yong
Opening with another video montage, this time even more macabre than the first, scenes of a hospital and operation tools suggest a painful procedure. Someone is being operated on. Someone is suffocated, only being allowed to breathe through a tube. Someone is being injected. Someone is tied up. That someone is Kwon Ji Yong, with the face of G-Dragon.
In an act that is louder, fiercer and more mature, the music extraordinaire performs tracks from his two solo albums, 'ONE OF A KIND' and 'COUP D’ETAT'. The montage scenes keep returning as a subtle reminder of his state of mind - a nod to a period in his life when he was slowly becoming aware of what ‘G-Dragon’ was, and what that meant for 'Kwon Ji Yong'.
A short video towards the end of the act draws attention to the duality of G-Dragon, in which his family and friends - including familiar faces such as Big Bang's Taeyang and Daesung, CL, Sandara Park, PSY, Se7en and Jung Hyeong Don (Doni) - address two simple questions:
1) Who is G-Dragon to you?
2) Who is Kwon Ji Yong to you?
Some answers entertained and incited laughter, but the responses wholly bring to light who 'G-Dragon' is and strips him down to a 'Kwon Ji Yong' who is not merely an idol. Kwon Ji Yong (“Who?” - Doni) is also a “beloved son” (his mother), a “warm-hearted brother” (CL) “who talks a lot when he drinks” (his older sister) and a good friend who will “always be a part of my life” (Taeyang). He is, at his core, a regular person just like everyone else.
Act 3: Kwon Ji Yong
The final act of M.O.T.T.E is subdued and simpler, a change from the first two acts. Just like his latest album, it’s an exploration of anger, self-awareness, confusion, loneliness and loss. It begins with a monologue featuring GD speaking to the camera and introducing himself as Kwon Ji Yong. Clad in a red bathrobe, Kwon bares his soul and confesses about his internal struggles with ‘G-Dragon’ and ‘Kwon Ji Yong’. He also explains that 'Divina Commedia' - the outro of his latest album - is a representation of his life story.
G-Dragon has put forth his pain, confusion and loneliness into a display of unrivalled showmanship. He ends the show embracing both sides of himself but does not shed the underlying melancholy that has been present since the start of the show.
Beneath the stunning display of pyrotechnics, well-coordinated strobe lights and artistic visual accompaniments, M.O.T.T.E. is in fact a subtle yet powerful autobiography that delves into G-Dragon’s innermost core and will have one screaming “Kwon Ji Yong” by the third act.
Like looking into G-Dragon’s open heart, M.O.T.T.E. is red, raw and simply resplendent.
Korea.com's Cherie contributed to this review from Singapore.