San E is one of those Korean artists who straddles the line between being a musician and a personality. Long-term, this is a huge asset, as it will allow him to seamlessly transition to hosting and variety jobs when the music dries up. But similar to Eric Nam (also known for his engaging personality), San E’s jack-of-all-trades appeal can sometimes make his songs feel a little lightweight.
Perhaps to counter this concern, he often moves between more hardcore hip-hop and lighthearted party tracks. I Am Me is definitely among the latter, throwing back to a bright, 80’s/90’s style of rap that embraces pop much more strongly than most of the genre. The song’s brassy funk beat continues the old-school trend popularized by western artists like Bruno Mars. It’s immediately engaging, and matches San E’s gregarious style of hip-hop perfectly. He’s at his best when he’s allowed to play around, and the loose instrumental — complete with record scratches and marching band-esque drum beats — gives him plenty to chew on.
If anything underwhelms, it’s I Am Me‘s chorus. San E gets an assist from Mamamoo‘s Hwasa, but like her work on HIGH4 20’s HookGa last year, she’s just not given enough to do. There’s a great hook hiding in there somewhere, but Hwasa should have been used much more prominently than as a simple back-up singer. Instead, the busy chorus amounts to a jumble of cartoonish posturing without a particularly strong melody to anchor it. It’s still undeniably fun, but lacks the sucker-punch that could have made it a real standout.