It’s been a week since Lee Jihoon, also known as Woozi, has released his first-ever mixtape. The singer is most well known as being the lead vocal for the boy group, SEVENTEEN, but he has also made his mark as an established producer in the K-pop industry. Though the 25-year-old has over a hundred songs copyrighted under his name, “Ruby” is his official solo debut.
Despite the term “mixtape” typically being used for a collection of music, Woozi’s mixtape only includes one song. The phrase “mixtape release” has been used for seven years by the singer and his group ever since they began posting singles and unofficial songs on their SoundCloud back in 2015. “Ruby” is considered to be the 18th volume of SEVENTEEN’S mixtape.
In the English track, “Ruby” details the feeling of liking someone so intensely that it can be compared to a passionate and powerful ruby. It also captures the sensation of mixed emotions while also being unable to tear oneself away from the sight of a beautiful jewel.
While SEVENTEEN is considered to be a “diamond,” and their fans are called “carats,” Woozi decided to take inspiration from a ruby. On the SEVENTEEN YouTube channel, the singer sat down for a 17:terview where he explained his gem choice and the musical direction he wanted his first solo to go.
“When I’m Woozi, not of SEVENTEEN, but alone as the singer Woozi, I thought it would be better to be a different gem and not a ‘diamond,’“ he explains.
Although SEVENTEEN is considered to be a dynamic group in both sound and image, they are more known for their fresh and youthful portrayal. That’s why it became a huge surprise to many fans to hear such a new, mature sound from the group’s resident producer.
The song starts off with a strong selection of classical strings which leads listeners to believe the track will be another soulful ballad that Woozi is known for. However, it soon switches to powerful guitar riffs and a heavy sound.
The song mainly focuses on the rock genre, but it also incorporates the influences of jazz to create a contracting element. Woozi’s stray from the brighter pop tropes of SEVENTEEN’s music is evident in the songwriting as well.
With lyrics like “Baby girl, you’re making me a beautiful jewel / Every time I look at you, I keep turning red,” and, “I’m not going back, go color me like you / My forbidden fruit, uh (she got the ruby lips),” Woozi shows subtle shifts to a more mature and fervent side of himself that fans don’t get to see too often.
In conclusion, “Ruby” seems to be a move forward in not only Woozi’s image but also in his created sound. As he and the other members grow older, it was inevitable that the direction of their music would begin to reflect a new coming of age into greater adulthood. However, it’s a welcomed transformation that both fans and non-fans alike are eager to see and cannot wait to hear more of.