BTS – MAMA (English Translation and Ramblings)

J-Hope’s song, MAMA (Wings Album track 8)

The songs from this album are fairly straight forward, but I guess I’ll translate just a few songs.  Starting with MAMA, which I thought I could add the most rambling….

Korean lyrics are from Naver Music.

 

Lyrics by:   Primary, Pdogg, J-Hope.
Song by:  Primary, Pdogg, J-Hope.

 

Time travel to year 2006
I went crazy for dance and made my mom’s belt tighten.
The days when I jumped into it daily, despite my dad’s opposition
The boat of dreams that she floated for me, unfazed by it all.
“To tighten one’s belt” is an expression used to “tighten one’s resolve to work for a greater ideal than appeasing hunger during time of limited finances.”  Essentially, if there is not enough money, instead of buying food, you tighten the belt to try to hide the hunger… and use that money for something that you think is more important than food – in this case, her son’s love for dance.
But I didn’t know that my mom’s great contribution
Was not the wide short-cut
But this path of dream, holding onto debt.
(Always) the problem was money, and finally mom
(Go away) far away to work. 

On the phone
My mom’s voice I heard was clear
“Hello~?”
(recorded by J-Hope’s mom.  thanks aadfsdf in comments)
What I remember
Was my mom’s strength that was my breaking ball 
Breaking ball = baseball term of a ball that change directions that is difficult to hit.  In Korean, the literal translation would be “ball that changes.”    I guess it’s a metaphor for his opportunity to change his direction.   Also, it’s a difficult ball to throw and to hit, so can be a metaphor for a difficult feat that his mom achieved.
J-Hope also uses baseball metaphor in his part in No More Dreams, and refers to baseball team Kia Tigers in his section in Ma City.
Really
I promised to my self that I must succeed
And with that one promise
Became the son that I am now.

Hey mama
You can lean on me now, always beside me
Hey mama
You’ve always given to me selflessly, and became my shelter
Hey mama
Now you can rely on your son and just smile
Hey mama
Hey mama

 

 

Hey mama
I’m sorry mama
That I only now know your blessings, mama

Hey mama
So thanks mama
For nurturing me into who I am, mama
This line is literally translated as “For becoming my flesh and blood” but does NOT mean he’s thanking her for being related to him.   This is a common expression in Korea where anything that nurtures/fertilizes the foundation of who you are, has become your “flesh and blood.”  Not genetically, but metaphorically being the building blocks of your character.
eg. this book/person/experience, etc has become my flesh and blood.

Do you remember, mom?
“Moonheungdong Hiddink Internet Cafe”, “Broadway Restaurant”
The two jobs you worked, as a veteran supporter of family
Hiddink was a soccer manager for Korean soccer team during 2002 FIFA which (held jointly in Korea and Japan).  They must have named this internet cafe after him. He was very popular.
Failure is the mother of success, mother
I learned that passion and devotion
Wanna be wanna be
Now, when I become an adult
Because you were the nourishment to my new sprout
I’ll become a flower, and become your flower path
You walking on way way way.
“Flower path” is a metaphor for future that is only filled with good things.

Hey mama
You can lean on me now, always beside me
Hey mama
You’ve always given to me selflessly, and became my shelter
Hey mama
Now you can rely on your son and just smile
Hey mama
Hey mama

The breath you gave me
So that I can feel the world
Today, I especially long to embrace you
What can you say is the highest in this world?
What can you say is the widest in this world?
This is a reference to a Kid’s song about mom.   Title is …. Mom’s grace?  Mom’s gift?  Mom’s devotion?  Not sure how to translate it exactly.  The lyrics essentially say that mom’s love is higher than the sky and wider than the ocean.
Only Mom’s hand is the medicine hand
You’re my everlasting placebo.
When kids get tummy aches (with mild indigestion or anxiety), moms in Korea lay them down and rub their tummies saying “mom’s hand is medicine hand.”  This often makes it less painful and adults often have fond childhood memories of falling asleep peacefully, with their mom rubbing their tummies.

I love mom

Hey mama
You can lean on me now, always beside me
Hey mama
You’ve always given to me selflessly, and became my shelter
Hey mama
Now you can rely on your son and just smile
Hey mama
Hey mama

Hey mama
You can lean on me now, always beside me
Hey mama
You’ve always given to me selflessly, and became my shelter
Hey mama
Now you can rely on your son and just smile
Hey mama
Hey mama

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3 thoughts on “BTS – MAMA (English Translation and Ramblings)

  1. Dear God, I’m tearing up reading your translation………
    Now I can totally relate to what RapMon said in his VLive about Jhope’s MAMA is a serious song in funky tunes, and it also makes RapMon emotional talking about it.
    Jhope is so underrated.

  2. thanks for the great translation!! oh also, at a fansign jhope said that at 0:45 of the song, its his actual mom’s voice saying “hello” that he recorded on his phone!! cute, right?

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