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With six years and four full-length Korean albums under their belts, NCT-127 has made one thing very clear: their sound is unpredictable. The nine-piece K-pop group — a sub-unit of South Korean boyband NCT — often merges genres and instrumentation in innovative ways, and their latest album, 2 Baddiesis no exception.

Released Sept. 16, the album, as the guys describe it, is more hip-hop based than any project they’ve released before. Although hip-hop is the core, with memorable rap verses found on most of the songs, plenty of other genres are sprinkled across 2 Baddies like R&B, pop, and drill. And in fitting NCT 127 fashion, no one track sounds the same.

Throughout the album’s 12 tracks, listeners travel through a vast soundscape. On the first four tracks alone, the group delivers low tones (opening track “Faster”) transition to the booming and electric title track “진주(2 Baddies),” then slow down to crooning R&B on “Time Lapse” and a mix of R&B and UK drill on “Crash Landing.” Other songs have more of a lighter pop sound, like “Designer” and the final track “1,2,7 (Time Stops)”. overalls, 2 Baddies feels like a more extensive project that showcases their range as a group.

With a balance of braggadocious and feel-good anthems and more emotional, fan-centric tracks, there’s something for everyone, showing why NCT ​​127 has become a mainstay in the Korean music scene. Rappers Mark and Taeyong also contributed to lyric writing on “Time Lapse” and “Designer,” adding more of the group’s personal flair.

This October, they will play two bi-coastal shows in LA and NY, which will be their first time in the US as a group since 2019. Ahead of their return, GRAMMY.com caught up with all nine NCT 127 guys (Doyoung, Haechan Jaehyun, Johnny, Jungwoo, Mark, Taeil, Taeyong, and Yuta) via Zoom to discuss 2 Baddies and their tour. Even through a computer, the guys’ energy is magnetic — it’s clear they’re excited to reunite with fans and share this new chapter of their careers.

Where does the title 2 Baddies come from?

Mark: It’s from the meaning of what we’re trying to deliver. 임주 in English means high-speed. It definitely goes well with the Porsche concept that we came up with. We made a point about going full speed to our goal without caring about what the world may put in front of us or whatever opinions people may have.

We’re just focusing on what we live in our dreams. That attitude was very tough for us in the song, so that’s what we wanted to portray and put into the song.

What feels different about this album compared to your previous releases?

Johnny: Each song has more of a hip-hop sound than before. You can really tell how much time we took to make the album. The quality is very high and all our members’ vocals are well-portrayed throughout the album as well.

What’s different is definitely for “진주 (2 Baddies),” the title song, is going to be the performance in my opinion. There’s a lot more smiling than the other songs that we formed. I think our fans will really notice how much fun we’re having while performing. That’s got to be the biggest difference from the other songs we had before.

You guys are doing two shows in the US, which will be your first time performing in America since 2019. Are you excited? Do you have anything special planned for the performances?

Jaehyun: We’re definitely excited because it’s been such a long time since we’ve been to the US We’ve prepared that much for the concert and we’re coming up with a new album, so I think that would be added as a new thing to do on tour.

Mark and Taeyong, you two wrote on “Time Lapse” and “Designer.” Can you guys talk more about your contributions on those two songs and what was your rap-making process like?

Mark: “Time Lapse” and “Designer” are totally different songs. For each song, we wanted to incorporate our different interpretations of the song. How we all both took our verses — for example, for “Time Lapse,” the way we saw loneliness and that dreadful feeling of being alone all the time was different for him and I.

It’s also kind of connected to our dreams. It’s always fun to write with him. It really showcases our strong differences as well. Stuff like that really makes it more fun to write raps. I think it came out nice.

Do you guys have a favorite track from the album?

Utah: “2 Baddies.”

Haechan: “2 Baddies.”

Taeyong: The title.

What makes everyone say that one?

Mark: It’s that good.

Are there any new genres you guys tried this time around?

Taeyong: “Faster” is really low-tone. The song starts at a low tone and ends at a low tone. It’s the first time we ever worked on a song like that.

What story are you guys trying to tell with this album?

Mark: Like I said, for “2 Baddies,” the meaning of the song goes well with the word “high-speed.” That’s why we put the translation of high-speed in Korean as the title. Having that as the title track of the entire album really sets the tone for all the other songs in the playlist.

The other songs revolve around “2 Baddies.” For example, “Faster” is pretty much an extended version of “2 Baddies,” in my opinion. That’s why the order of “Faster” and “2 Baddies” are right there together. Having our albums structured in that type of way kind of made the whole album very well-packaged.

The music video for “2 Baddies” looked like it was fun to film. Do you have any memories from filming it?

Johnny: It was definitely fun filming it. There were a lot of new things we tried. The main color of the music video is very neon-ish. There were a lot of neon points.

It was kind of like a cyberpunk feel to the whole music video. That’s why it was a lot of fun. We tried to incorporate all those new colors and new styles. We had cars hanging, trying to make [it] more futuristic throughout the whole . It was a lot of fun.

Mark: Skrt!

Do you guys have any new goals for the future?

Jaehyun: Let’s have fun while performing, you guys.

Mark: We just want to have fun.

Jaehyun: We always enjoy performing “2 Baddies.”

Johnny: It’s been a long time. It’s already been a year — almost two years — since our last comeback [music release]. We prepared a lot for this album, music-wise, visual-wise, just everything.

I hope that our fans have fun with the album. I really hope that they enjoy it as much as we do. We just want to say thank you to our fans all around the world who are going to be listening and thank you for waiting this long.

Mark: Skrt!

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