Before I go on to ravage parts of Papillon, let me introduce this review by stating that Jackson is one of my very favorite k-pop personalities. Though I’ve been a listener of k-pop for a long time, I never really got into the variety show side of things until mid-2014. It was then that the series Roommate introduced me to the genre. Jackson featured prominently in Roommate‘s second season, and quickly ingratiated himself with an endlessly entertaining, candid charm. That, in turn, heightened my interest in GOT7‘s music — even if that interest has waned over the past year or so.
With that said, from a musical standpoint I’m not sure that JYP really knows what to do with Jackson. For the past several comebacks, his moments in GOT7 tracks have all been delivered in the same gruff, overly put-on shout-rap tone. That’s all well and good for a bombastic track like Hard Carry, but not so effective when it comes to more nuanced material. For this reason, I feared that a solo release would be three minutes of the exact same blustery cadence.
Thankfully, Papillon includes enough variation to feel at least somewhat dynamic from a musical standpoint. But any of this goodwill is sabotaged by the song’s inane English lyrics and lazy chorus. Its one-dimensional simplicity recalls mainstream American hip-hop of the early 00’s. And in this way, I suppose Papillon is actually a bit refreshing in its low-ambition retro approach. But then again, this style of rap was never really that great in the first place, so it’s not the kind of nostalgia worth revisiting. Jackson is an incredible entertainer in so many ways, but if Papillon is any indication, I’m not sure he possesses the kind of versatility to carry a solo musical career.