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Stray Kids - District 9 Breakdown

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Lyric Analysis

Just a quick warning, as always - I can not speak Korean. I am going based off of the subtitles on the offical YouTube music video for District 9.

Lee Know brings about the first verse of the song. He explains that he has had enough of the constant talk from everyone- supposedly about fitting in, or that he can't reach where he wants to be and should just follow everyone else. Minho explains that he will make his own path, regardless of the outcome.

Hyunjin then comes in and continues the verse. He states that he does not he doesn't know his true identity and wants answers. He mentions living in frustration and worry/stress as a result of just wanting to know what his life is supposed to become. He then mentions that if answers can't be provided, then others should just stay away and allow him and his group to go on their own path to reach their destination.

This first verse talks a lot about wanting to break free and have the life one always wanted. It has a bit of an impatient, almost desperate feeling for the future- being successful and happy, and finally being able to relax. These lyrics could be representative of needing to break away and fulfill one's need for success, no matter how they may define it.

The chorus is then broken into. The first words mention wanting to flip everything on its head, and do away with the negativity of one's current surroundings. The chorus questions how others can know where one wants to (or should) end up, even if that person does not know themselves enough to know the answers. Ownership is then claimed by Felix stating "this is our District 9" - or, to put a potential meaning to it - a person's life journey can only belong to themeselves and/or the group that they have formed to make it through together. No one can stand in their way, and they won't allow others to keep them from their definition of success.

The hook explains that one "better watch out", and that "it's dangerous". This could refer to the journey to success being dangerous, but the fact that "it's our District 9" (it's our success, our end goal) is fuel for the fire. The end goal fights off the fear, and gives one the drive to finally reach their definition of success- no matter how big or small.

The next few lyrics = "Stray Kids everywhere, all around the world" refer to the listeners. Stray Kids, although it is the name of the group, could also refer to those who broke the mold of everyday society. The lyrics following this ask for everyone listening to band together and step forward toward their goal. By mentioning footsteps getting louder, they explain that the numbers of those fighting for what they want in life are increasing. They explain that there is strength there, and that everyone can make it.

Han then picks up the next verse. He refers to those breaking the mold as "troublemakers", and says that it won't be easy to change the mindsets of those that would prefer to fit the roles of society that are the easy way that leads to mundanity instead of success as one would prefer- doing what they love. Changbin then jumps in, explaining that most would rather weed out the ones that are different and outstanding. He explains then that it is not a bad thing to be different than societal norms, or any sort of normality- for that matter. The lyrics mention that this movement started with nine people, and at the end their success will claim everything.

This can be motivational in the fact that Stray Kids started as a small group of nine (now eight), breaking the mold and the adversity - to reach their goals. They continue to reach new goals, break new records, and grow their success every day. It seems as though these lyrics talk about their own journey, as well as encourage others to do the same and work hard for what they want as well. It seems as though this carries the meaning of ignoring the nay-sayers and proving them wrong through one's actions and success.

Felix then comes in and explains the nerves associated with finally breaking free from what is expected of them. Lee Know then asks for silence whilst Changbin explains that he is searching for his true self. Seungmin explains that he works hard enough for what he wants to hypothetically bleed out on the dance floor. Han speaks up saying that he was regarded as a "clown", but will still stand guard over his journey toward success.

This section asks everyone to stand back and watch them succeed, regardless of the nerves that arise. One could feel anxious, scared, or reach other road blocks that come their way. But this portion talks about Stray Kids overcoming that, and empowers listeners to overcome road blocks as well. It promotes the mindset of standing up and accomplishing one's goals, one by one, while those who disagree sit back and watch.

Video Analysis

At the beginning of the video, the first thing heard is "S.O.S., S.O.S Stay" in morse code. "Warning, containment breach detected at (unintelligible)" follows shortly after. While watching the scenes of the members standing outside of what looks like doors that lead to prison cells, and the scenes of the bus behind a wall- I feel as though this is a prison of some sort. The name of the song/video also tends to remind me of the alien movie, but I feel as though this video has nothing to do with the subject of extraterrestrials.

The next scene shows the same bus either breaking through, or exiting the prison gates. This leads me to think that the members are breaking out of prison, and that is what the music video is based around. We then see the video flash through a few different scenes before ending up in what looks like a garden of Poinsettias, or a similar flower. However, this doesn't look like an ordinary garden- it looks like a maze. And instead of trying to escape the maze, the members are distracted by the flora. This could represent a number of things, or have no meaning at all. What came to mind, though, is that the flowers are representative of a distraction that prevents one from fighting for what is rightfully theirs, or fighting for what they truly want in life.

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This is the moment where I can almost piece the two music videos - Hellevator and District 9 - together. It seems as though once the "Hellevator" has reached the top and they seemed to be free- they were all captured and thrown in a sort of mental asylum. The reason why I think it is a psychiatric ward, instead of a prison, is explained in further scenes.

In the scene of the Poinsettia maze, it starts with Lee Know rapping- but shows scenes of Bang Chan walking throughout the maze. As Chan does so, the other members are distracted by the greenery and flowers. This leads me to think that Chan has "woken up", so to speak, from a trance like the others are in. He continues to walk, and everything is grayscale and dull except for one, vibrant red flower. He reaches out to touch it, and looks up to see an unknown source of light. He runs, and follows the light- which eventually leads him out of the maze. At his feet lies a crashed drone. He then realizes that there is a forcefield around the psychiatric ward/prison.

I like how the beginning, at least, of this video is told through Bang Chan's point of view. It is very representative of him being the leader of Stray Kids, and most likely how hard he has worked to get where he is as well.

The scene after Chan notices the forcefield shows him in a different location with the members. They are indoors, with bright white lights, standing outside of the doors that lead to their rooms. Chan is seen walking down the hall where they are lined up. He has a stolid expression on his face as he pushes a cart. I believe that this expression is an act to show that he is still under the control of those running the facility they are in- however, we know from the previous scenes- that he is no longer trapped in their mind control.

Bang Chan is also seen scanning a members' wrist- who happens to be Hyunjin. He then hands Hyunjin a curled up, red piece of paper. It is then revealed that each of these members received the same paper, with the same thing written on it. I believe that instead of handing them the papers, Chan was supposed to follow protocol of the people who have them imprisoned there- scan their wrists to keep track of them, and hand them mind-numbing or mind-control medication. This scene is also why I believe it is a psychiatric ward - as I am not sure that a prison would try to numb the minds of their inmates to break them of their entire humanity.

The meaning behind this could be that Chan specifically chose these members - handing them the red curled up papers, so to speak - to break free from the mold and be themselves. He specifically chose these members to make music with, enjoy life with, and encourage others to break free from the mold and enjoy life as well. I believe this is them encouraging us as Stay to limit our boundaries, no matter how strong we feel as though the hypothetical force field that prevents us from getting where we want to be, is.

The next scene shows Chan leading his fellow members outside of the building - to the bus area where he found the drone. They all look around, paranoid that they will be caught. Part of me believes this is representation of when a person first takes that scary step out to make their life - part of them is nervous. Part of them is wary that they are making the wrong move, or that it will fail. However, after looking around to make sure they are not being watched - the members run toward the bus and enter. This could be representative of, after the cautious feeling- one would decide to 'just do it' - a 'now or never' feeling. As a result, they take the chance.

The group then changes out of their uniforms as a final sign of rebellion. Wearing normal street clothing now, the bus starts to roll forward. Before, when it was just
Chan - the forcefield could not be broken. But now, with the willpower of the group, the whole bus is able to break the forcefield. They successfully escape.This could show that putting multiple minds with the same wishes, same thoughts, same wants and needs - could lead to more success than one doing it alone. That does not mean though that one can not do it alone. I believe it is quite the opposite, because I feel as though this song and video are encouraging Stay - no matter a singular person or a group of people - to break out of the mold, be themselves, and go achieve what they want in life. Go enjoy life, and make the most out of it.

I also feel as though this video could be representative of the journey and meaning of Stray Kids. The group, chosen by Chan in a way - fought to break the mold and get where they are. They had to overcome adversity, they had to overcome harships, and they had to work together with one common goal in order to make it. The bus finally breaking through the forcefield represents the group finally making it- and all of the accomplishments they continue to make. The story, music video, and meaning could also serve as an inspiration to Stay.

When the group finally reaches their destination and exits the bus- the world is desolate. Their surroundings are abandoned, run down, and lonely. Everything is once again grayscale. This could be representative of the fact that once someone finally breaks away and starts to make their life what they want - the first steps can be scary, lonely, and cold. However, the group - once they arrive there - spraypaint a flag that says "District 9" as if they are staking their claim on the area. The flag could also be made of their old uniforms - representing turning something negative and old into something positive and new. "Stray Kids" is also seen spray painted onto the ground.

I believe these last few scenes are representing them turning the cold, lonely, scary feeling of finally stepping into what they want - into something positive. I believe it carries the meaning of turning those initial scary feelings into something positive. It represents a change of mindset once one is finally getting where they want to be in life. Once one sees the light in stepping out into the unknown, and finally doing what they have always wanted- the negativity dissipates and turns into enjoyment, inspiration, and the drive to continue.

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© 2022 Kat May

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