Bang Yongguk of B.A.P teased fans with a 15 second clip on Instagram on March 26th, 2015 of what was to eventually become a music video titled AM 4:44, which was later released on April 3rd. This sudden announcement had a lot of fans in a sudden state of shock and excitement.
For those who may not be aware, B.A.P filed a lawsuit back in November of 2014 against their label TS Entertainment to nullify their contract due to unfair conditions and profit distribution. It’s been an on going battle between the two parties; TS Entertainment refuting the claims made, stating that “there have been neither such maltreatments to the artists nor unfair clauses in the contract,” basically brushing off any claims of them creating slave contracts for the members.
There have always been talks behind closed doors of Korean companies creating “slave contracts” for their trainees, a contract which basically locks them into long exclusive deals, with no wiggle room or control of musical creativity, and little financial reward. It was only in 2014 that a number of members from various K-pop groups, Kris and Luhan from EXO-M and Moon Junyoung of ZE:A started to come forward to attest these claims. B.A.P shortly followed.
There were rumors and a lot of speculation going around weeks before B.A.P filed their lawsuit that something was terribly wrong; fans were convinced that it wasn’t a problem within the group and that whatever it was that was going on was hugely based on the fact that TS was strenuously overworking the members. In the weeks prior to TS cancelling B.A.P’s South American leg of their Live on Earth Tour, there were photos of the members looking weary and clearly worn out from their nonstop schedules. There were reports of members fainting and being rushed to the hospital, but only to be pulled back out by TS staff, so that they could go on to perform. Their health was quickly declining and there were multiple visits to the clinics with documentation to prove of their deteriorating health, and some of the member’s parents even made their way to TS Entertainment’s office to try and resolve these recurring issues.
Even with all that at hand, TS was not going to let health issues be an excuse as to why they’d have to lose out on money just because their income earners weren’t feeling well. Clearly, as entertainers, you’re not allowed to be sick and feel unwell, because once you sign that contract, you’re no longer considered a human being. With tickets sold, venues set, and thousands of fans awaiting B.A.P’s stops in Latin and South America, you can only imagine how the disappointment when they found out the bad news. TS tried to explain that the cancellation of the tour was all due to their concern over B.A.P’s health, and how the artist condition is the top priority. Did TS already sense that something was brewing and was about to erupt from B.A.P? Were they trying to walk away from the situation as heroes because they cancelled the tour before B.A.P’s health worsened?
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You’d question where and how one would store all these feelings, fury, rage and resentment; but after the lawsuit, this was probably the best opportunity for Yongguk to put it all into a song and present it to world.
As the fearless yet soft spoken leader of B.A.P, Yongguk is notorious for his deep and insightful way of thinking. AM 4:44 is a prime example of him trying to convey an unspoken message. The music video starts off by showing a hand watch. A watch can symbolize many things; a clear and simple meaning would be time doesn’t stop; no matter what you’re going through, you’ve got to keep fighting your way through those obstacles to make it out onto the other side. In Yongguk’s case, he’s fighting with his inner thoughts and emotions along with all the negativity that’s been building up inside him.
Nobody would know how scary the mask I wear is.
To be in this kind of industry, it’s like the three wise monkeys: you see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil. No matter how many crazy things you see and encounter, as an artist under an agency, you just have to bite your tongue and act like nothing ever happened. It’s a never-ending cycle, at least not until you’re completely free from the company. And even then, there’ll still be things that come around that’ll try and haunt you. No one’s going to protect you; you have to fend for yourself. To continue with the theme, Yongguk’s face is never fully shown in the music video, rather we were just given his silhouette and quick glimpses of his profile. It’s almost as if he’s shielding himself with whatever it is that he has left to protect himself with.
He goes back and forth a lot throughout the song and he questions a few things here and there; how could it be that something that started off as a passion all of a sudden turn into a spiraling dark hole? for what am I insisting on trying so hard for to keep on running? Rather than this being considered a rap, it’s more like story telling. Yongguk is laying it all out there in the open for the world to hear and as for the audience; you can interpret it however you want.
The a**holes who ruined this are living with their bellies full
Just as they don’t pay attention to the victim mentality they have left behind.
To say that this is just true is a complete understatement. Not only does this apply to the industry in Korea, but it also happens in the music industry across the board in any given country and any franchise, big or small. There’ll always be the big guys who will forever step all over the little guys, until they get to not just the top but the very tip top of the chain. It doesn’t matter how they do it or how long it takes them to do so because it’ll just be a matter of time before they’re able to push their way up to where they think they belong, to live a lavish life and what not, while you’re stuck doing the dirty work. Yongguk didn’t hold back in AM 4:44 and I’m more than positive that he could’ve said so much more but that’ll probably be for another track.
When you’re feeling the loneliest and having a hard time from this world,
I will pat your shoulder you can lean into me then.
One of the worst feelings one can experience in life is loneliness; the feeling of emptiness and abandonment. There are those who can be in a room filled with people, whether it’s friends or family, but rather yet, feel like they’re surrounded by strangers, and feel like they’re the only ones who exist, or there are those who literally have no one, those with absolutely no shoulder to turn to and cry on. Even though Yongguk is filled with anger, his arms are still wide open. He’s thinking about those around him; those people who have stuck around, whether it’s his B.A.P members, his family, the fans, or just people who care enough, in general. Yongguk wants to break this cycle; he’s dealt with a few bad apples in his life and if possible he’d like to help someone else who’s been dealt a bad deck of cards if he can.
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I for one am a BABY and I’ve followed B.A.P since the beginning. And as BABY and as appreciative as I am of all their constant comebacks, World Tour’s, and all the hard work, time and labor that these guys put it, much like many other groups out there, I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t expect for all of this to happen one day. It’s unfortunate that it happened, but I’m glad the members decided to file the lawsuit as a group. I guess you can say that AM 4:44 was a sudden treat to the BABYZ, but it’s also a song that is jammed back with extremely powerful messages.
I am just doing my thing, everything is going to be alright.
What are your thoughts on Bang Yongguk’s AM 4:44? Do you think everything’s going to be all right? Share your thoughts in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.