A discussion has recently popped up on Twitter about BTS‘s 2014 song “Intro: Skool Luv Affair” on their second mini-album, Skool Luv Affair. The song only features the rapline, RM, Suga, and J-Hope, and the lyrics were written by the three rappers as well as PDOGG and Slow Rabbit.
The discussion revolves around RM’s portion of the song, this particular line being rapped in English.
You know that her refusals and bad words could never stop me. They could never retard me,
this is my ideology.
The discussion around these lyrics appears to have been reignited by a tweet from a surprised Twitter user who has since-deactivated their account. Like many new fans (and some older fans) this user had either never heard the 6-year-old song or didn’t pay attention to the lyrics, and so was surprised to see the use of the word “retard” in a fan transcription of the lyrics.
“Retard” has been used against the neurodivergent and disabled community for decades as an insult, generally used to mean “stupid.” The word, however, also means “to slow” or “to delay or impede the progress or development of,” and has long been used by scientists to describe things such as cell growth, speed, and more. It is also commonly used to mean “slow” in languages other than English.
Considering RM stated “could never stop me” before the line, it is very likely that he meant the latter definition meaning “to slow,” as Koreans may also see that definition first. However, outside of science and international languages, many have been erasing the word from English vocabulary and replacing it with other words. It is too well known as the slur.
In 2016, BTS issued an apology for their past lyrics, but there has been some confusion among fans as to whether they were apologizing for “Miss Right,” “Converse High,” RM’s “Joke,” and “War of Hormone,” or simply the entirety of their past songs. While the apology specifically mentioned “misogynist” lyrics, with no mention of the “r slur,” RM has since apologized in multiple V-LIVEs for his past.
Fans are also arguing that they should have censored it during their performance of the song during the 34th Golden Disc Awards (January 2020), which they did not. This was a more recent incident, making fans think that the definition was still unknown to him and other Koreans.
The term “SLUR” trended on Twitter as the debate reached thousands of people. Here are some fan opinions from both sides.
Big Hit Entertainment and RM have not made a statement about the Twitter discussion.