I.M in a black suit is surrounded by the thumbnails of the videos he discusses in the interview.

The grind never stops for rapper I.M, who is currently preparing for a summer tour across Europe, the U.S., and Asia by beating the hell out of his abs. “[When working out] I usually separate my body into chest, back, shoulder, arm, [and] legs,” he says over a Zoom call from Seoul. “But I do abs every day.”

As a member of the K-pop group Monsta X, I.M paired this physical brawn with lyrical machismo. But as a solo artist, I.M’s music is more like his mind: introspective with a melancholic yearning. His new EP, “Off the Beat,” is as ruminative as ever; lead single “Lure” loops through a one-sided conversation with a paramour about going public.

We asked I.M to get out of his head for a bit and tell us about what he likes listening to and watching online when he’s not making music.

1. Ty Dolla $ign – “Zaddy” [Music Video]

I.M: “Zaddy” is one of my favorite songs of Ty’s, and when I have to test my audio — my headphones, my big speakers — I test with this song because the bass is dope.

Mashable: You know what zaddy means, right?

I don’t know what the song means. I just like the vibe. I don’t know what zaddy means.

I think I have seen fans call you “zaddy.”

Oh, it means “daddy,” right?

Yeah, but like cooler and younger.

Is it OK to take it as a compliment?

Yeah, for sure.

OK, I’m zaddy! [laughs]

What other artists have you been listening to?

Chase Shakur and RAAHiiM. And of course, Bryson Tiller. He’s my favorite. And Solomon. They make the same kind of music as I do — chill R&B, a bit of a sticky, sexy vibe.

How would you describe a sticky sound?

When you listen to a really original, classic [piece of] music, do you feel like it’s sticky? It’s kind of like the vibe of a song. Do you nod? When you listen to a rock song, you swing your head like this [moves head up and down]. But when you’re listening to R&B, your vibe is more like [moves head slowly to a beat]. It’s like the groove.

2. LET ME KNOW – “偽愛とハイボール (Love and Highball)”

I found this band on Instagram, I was scrolling, and I heard the song and was like, “Damn, they’re good.” It’s a different vibe from what I’ve listened to before. The genre is city pop, I think. It felt quite fresh when I heard it.

How often do you discover new music like that?

I don’t dedicate time to it because when you play a song [on Spotify] it plays more songs with a similar vibe. I need ideas, new things, and fresh air, and Spotify gives me those suggestions. I listen to their curated playlists a lot, too.

3. League of Legends gameplay videos from 롤박사 해도리

I play League whenever I have time after work. I started playing in quarantine, in 2021 or 2022. You play with a random team, and sometimes I play with my friends if they’re online. If they’re offline, I play by myself. I like playing games, but I’m not a gamer. A gamer is, like, addicted to games.

Gamers have a chair and lights and the whole setup.

Of course, I have a chair, but it’s for my back.

It’s a gaming chair, but you use it for your back?

It’s an office chair. I use it for my health.

What other games do you play?

Nothing else, just League. You can assume a character’s personality with your playing style, and every single tiny movement is really meaningful. [Laughs] Ah man, I sound like a gamer. I play as Kindred, a wolf trained in archery. That character gives life and death. And if you’re really good at that character, it’s easy to carry the game. You become important, the MVP, and can face five versus one. When you kill someone, you get a “stack” that gives you more power. As that stack grows, you get super strong. My lane is “jungle,” so I needed to find a jungle character.

Your lane?

Yeah, my lane. There are five lanes inside the game: top middle, jungle, ADC, and support. After I took some time to understand the game, I chose jungle because it’s complicated. You need lots of knowledge, and you have to come up with lots of strategies inside your head. I hate when I’m bad when I play the game, so I go back to the moments that I was bad and try to figure out what I could have done to fix it.

The game reflects my personality. If you’re greedy in the game, it can be a mistake. It can cause lots of death and cause your team’s death, too. So balancing my greed with [other elements of my] personality allows us to win the game. How you control your character inside the game is an extension of your personality outside the game.

4. Spaceman

This is a movie I recently watched about a guy who goes to space and is visited by an extraterrestrial creature in the shape of a spider.

When the spider came out, the visual of that was quite disgusting. But the things he said were so straightforward. There was a line, “Listen to the silence,” that punched my heart. It’s kind of a weird sentence, “Listen to the silence,” because silence is not a noise. Silence happens when you don’t realize it, and it’s like, “Oh, it’s quiet.” That line was huge for me. To me, it means, “You need to slow down and be thankful.”

5. 미국 근본의 맛 (“A taste of American roots”) @dudely_08

I watch this kind of content to kill time. I don’t like aggressive, intense videos. I like to watch things that don’t mess with my vibe. Sometimes I have to watch my diet [for work] and can’t eat a lot, so I try and satisfy [my appetite] with videos. I don’t like traditional mukbangs where people sit and eat. This guy is different; he reviews the food, the view, and the presentation.

In general, I’m not really that greedy about eating food, it’s just something I need to live. I enjoy eating, but the process of it all— choosing from a menu, for example — is stressful to me. So I’d be fine if someone were to choose something for me [to eat], but I’d hope it’d be delicious.

What else do you do to chill out?

Sometimes when I’m really exhausted, I listen to a song with no lyrics, just instrumentals. Because if there is something to think about, my brain tries to keep working. So [I listen to] jazz music and drink some whiskey. Every alcohol has a different kind of vibe. Whiskey can feel very lonely, and it’s easy to get drunk on. But beer is quite light and easy to drink, so I drink that when playing League. It fits the game.

You said earlier that League is a balancing exercise for you between your needs and the needs of the team. Does that apply to your real life?

I’m not trying to fool myself about who I really am. I love everything I do on my own, and I love being with my Monsta X team. So balance isn’t that important or that hard because I love every moment when I’m doing music. I try to do my best in every moment but it’s important to face reality and acknowledge what you’re capable of doing 100 percent. I’m not really a positive guy, but I do my best to not waste an opportunity and to face challenges when I can.

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