Palayo is a trifecta of the skills Ken trained day and night to accomplish
SB19 already gave us a taste of what they can do individually during their Back In The Zone online concert. Each member carefully prepared and curated their solo stages to bring out the unique talent that made the group. And in the case of Ken, it was an opportunity for him to flip the switch when he performed Palayo, a smooth R&B track with English, Filipino and Bisaya lyrics. Likewise, A’TIN experienced whiplash when he appeared onscreen wearing a flowy red number and started singing to the sensual track. It was a prelude to what would be one of the most highly-anticipated solo debuts of P-pop.
Ken debuts as Felip—from his full name Felip Jhon Suson—and transforms into someone fiercer, more mysterious. He sheds his quiet and reserved image as he takes center stage. No holds barred as Felip croons his realizations and shuts them down with his flowy raps in Palayo. For this track, he recruits the help of Joshua Nase, Pablo’s brother. The instrumental is a smooth and buttery R&B song, with bedroom beats leading the way as they mingle with the perfectly timed piano chords and hypnotizing synths.
But it’s not a performance by Ken without an opportunity to show off his dance moves. True to his main dancer position, Ken puts a premium on total performance as he hits every beat in his dance. It’s a trifecta of what he trained night and day to accomplish: clean and sharp moves, coupled with enthralling vocals that highlight his lower register. Some might call it safe, but I believe that this is exactly Ken’s territory.
SB19 has constantly challenged rigid boundaries and labels, and it’s a fact that bleeds towards Ken’s styling throughout the music video. His energy and moves ooze masculinity, but his wardrobe strikes a balance with his daring outfits. He sports dangling jewelry and an ornate headpiece, exploring painted nails, lace and fringes and even pulls off the cropped blazer-sans-undershirt look with ease. All these sit far beyond the line between safe and androgynous.
And as he pushes boundaries with his style, Ken takes the chance to give the song another meaning. It’s one beyond the realms of romance that we initially thought. In a handwritten letter addressed to A’TIN, Ken writes that he and the team poured their hearts out into the project “…with hopes that Palayo inspires you to love yourself more, especially in times when it's difficult and painful to do so.” Palayo encourages everyone, whether you’re a regular listener or part of the loyal A’TIN, who struggle to walk away from something painful or detrimental. Palayo is not only a love song. It’s a show of strength, a push towards seeking freedom by loving yourself.
? Here's a special message from #SB19_KEN[ENG TRANS] We poured our hearts into making the song and the MV, with hopes that 'Palayo' inspires you to love yourself more, especially in times when it's difficult and painful to do.
Thank you, and I love you, A'TIN! pic.twitter.com/ypKezrKYcq
— SB19 Official ?? (@SB19Official) September 19, 2021
Ken’s debut with Palayo puts him on the map. It’s far from ambitious, with no exaggerated displays of new skills meant to surprise. Instead, it’s just a clear picture of Ken’s arsenal of talents and another side to his personality he’s comfortable sharing with the world.
Art Matthew Ian Fetalver