Winner’s Mino is finally making his first comeback of the year. We last saw him in 2020 when he dropped ‘Remember’ with Winner after a year and his own solo album ‘Take’. Both albums did well as they were in the top 5 of the Gaon chart and charted high on Bugs, Genie, and iTunes worldwide. Along with GRAY, Mino was also a producer on the rap survival show ‘Show Me The Money 10’. And now Mino is ready to come back with his third full-length album ‘To Infinity’.
Well, the Winner rapper is going all out for it. We first had his solo concert ‘Mino: Maniac’ during the same time his leader, Seung-Yoon held his concert at the ‘YG Palm Stage 2021’. It created quite the buzz as members of K-Pop groups like Winner, iKON, Blackpink, Treasure and TWICE were in the audience. On top of it, to celebrate the release of ‘To Infinity’, Mino is hosting an art exhibition ‘Listen To Pieces’ with the aim for the listener to synesthically understand his album’s neon cyber-core theme, as well as his inspiration.
Mino released his third album ‘To Infinity’ and its title track ‘Tang!♡’ on December 7. The K-Pop idol focuses on his strengths as he experiments with hip hop and R&B and collaborated with artists of the same wavelength like Gaeko, lIlBOI, and iKON’s Bobby. Well, let’s dive into the romantic but fun album.
“I wanted [‘To Infinity’] to flow like a movie till the flow of the composition becomes more and more calm…and listeners can feel a deep lingering impression” – Mino
Love In Da Car
Mino starts off the album with a harmonizing intro as he proves that he is an all-rounder who can rap, sing and produce songs in all kinds of genres. The enchanting piano melody leads the way to the first verse that is signature Mino as he sings about enjoying a drive with his love while rapping, “Baby hold on, Unpaved road/We gonna be freaking high/Hit the breaks.” The sudden contrasts between the EDM verses and melodic choruses keep the listener on their toes just like driving on a bumpy road in the night.
Mino participated in the making of all the songs in the album including ‘Tang!♡’. The groovy R&B song has an addictive hook and earworm chorus despite Mino’s aggressive flow as he sings about buying the whole world for his love. The funky instrumentals complement the equally fun sci-fi music video as the rapper sings, “Honestly I want to buy your heart/Tell me how to seduce you,” while transforming into a character he calls the ‘digital gunman’.
We further see his mischievous side as he explains he added a heart emoji to the title of the song which is the sound of gunshot to highlight the digital feel of the concept and to hint that love can be used as a bullet.
Pyramid (ft. lIlBOI, Gaeko)
Mino keeps the energy up with the next track. ‘Pyramid’ is a fast-tempo hip hop song that allows all three rappers to show off their flow and verses with the funky instrumentals. ‘Pyramid’ keeps things interesting as the vocals reverberate while the arrangement is full of noise and machinery sounds. Like the title of the song, Mino incorporates Egyptian legends while flexing his good fortune and wishing to be like “Anck Su Namun, Eternal youth, Shining adolescence.”
Language (ft. Bobby of iKON)
Iconic duo MOBB makes a comeback in this album as ‘Language’ is by long-time collaborators and friends Mino and iKON’s Bobby. They do what they do best with this straightforward rap song full of hip-hop elements like a heavy bassline and siren sounds.
The duo claps back at haters as they emphasize the importance of “good words” with Bobby going off, “If you bite it like that, you’ll hurt your jaw/Close your mouth, you punks, ugly guys.” The ease with the two rap back and forth will have any listener bopping their head to the song.
The album is divided into two halves with ‘Kill’ slowly introducing us to what we can expect from the second half of the album. ‘Kill’ is a laidback R&B song as Mino shows us a sexier side to him. His witty songwriting skills become evident here as he sings “Bowling pin, bowling pin body line/I want to knock you down (strike).” Full of synth samplers and piercing whistling sounds, ‘Kill’ lets us sit back and relax after the vivid and fierce first half of the album.
With heavy drums, techno percussions, and synths, we get right into Mino’s trendy tendency of aggressive raps juxtaposed with melodic verses sprinkled in between. His staccato-like rap in sync with the syncopated beats will have the listener excited for this trap-hip hop track. Mino also plays with the lyrics and the title of the seductive song as seen in the hook. “Head, shoulder, knees and then what?/On your lips,” is punctuated with “muah” which means a kiss as he sings about staying by his lover’s side forever.
‘Question Mark’ is probably the most experimental track of the album as it starts off with echoing distorted melodies surrounded by a ringing voice made to feel like someone is in a fog. With an upbeat rhythm and tropical sounds, Mino gets cheeky with short bursts of rap verses followed by melodic singing which mesh well together.
But along with the unique beats, Mino keeps things interesting with the lyrics as he sings about questions he has for his love, “What’s that dog thinking about/Where does space begin and end/I’m more curious about how you feel than these questions.”
Drunk Talk (ft. sogumm)
Mino gets deep with ‘Drunk Talk’ as the melancholic R&B song has a simple arrangement of guitar instrumentals that let his and sogumm’s voice shines. In a sing-song rap, Mino sings about remembering their departed ex and confesses his love while drunk. sogumm’s heavenly vocals in the bridge are definitely the highlight as she sings, “Without you/Every night when I pray in bed/Without realizing, I pray for you/Oh beautiful So I know I Still love you.”
But some think that Mino meant to be sarcastic with VIBE, the chart that was involved in sajaegi (chart manipulation) rumors due to the line, “It may sound like a vibe but it’s alcohol.”
First performed at Mino’s solo concert ‘Mino: Maniac’, ‘Losing U’ is a somber and melancholic song with the rapper baring his soul as he reminisces about the past and struggling to keep the memories with him. With a haunting piano in the back, Mino sings, “Even though I hate you, the memories are fond, please don’t disappear/I’m losing you.” The Winner member also displays his producing prowess as he lets the piano take over in the bridge with simple but evocative chords.
Sad Walk (ft. sunwoojunga)
Mino ends the album with a melancholic R&B song to continue the theme of heartbreak in the second half of ‘To Infinity’. But he sticks to his artistic style that fans love with a rough rap while leaving the singing verses to sunwoojunga and her hypnotic voice as she sings the chorus.
As she sings, “I asked your ears silently on the parting road do you like me?/I let you take a few more steps, I remember that backside of yours,” the listener is immersed with the vivid image she paints. Full of jazzy sounds layered with synth percussions, we get a trippy track about a couple’s last conversation as they go through a reluctant breakup.
‘To Infinity’ is a romantic album full of life and love, pain and heartbreak. Mino gets clever with the title as he references Buzz Lightyear’s motto “To infinity and beyond.” While he hopes to spend infinity with his love, he wants to search for the ‘beyond’ in the future which is why it’s omitted from the album title. And to hype up the album, fans went all out. The Winner member’s third studio album ‘To Infinity’ entered several reputable charts like Bugs, Genie, VIBE, MelOn, and iTunes immediately on its release.