Jung Hoseok — known through his stage name J-Hope — is part of the world’s biggest group, BTS. His talent seems to know no bounds either. A songwriter, rapper, producer, singer, choreographer, and awarded dancer, J-Hope’s talent seems to transcend all borders of what it means to be human.
After winning a place at the Hit It Auditions, J-Hope joined BigHit Entertainment and moved into their dorms in December 2010. In June 2013, he debuted alongside members RM, Jin, Suga, Jimin, V, and JK. The Korean septet, after a long and tremendously difficult journey, are currently the biggest group in the world. A look into their past and present helps us understand why.
J-Hope began his musical career as a well-known dancer and then waltzed his way into different forms of music, ending up as one of the most successful Korean artists to produce, write lyrics and perform.
His musical career did not start with BTS. At the tender age of ten, J-Hope was a dancer already. In 2008, he would join the dance crew Neuron and perform under the stage name, Smile Hoya. A dancer well known in his hometown, Gwangju, young J-Hope was already destined for great things.
With a 111 credits by the Korean Music Rights Copyright Association, J-Hope has already achieved incredible things. His first songwriting credit ever was for Jo Kwon’s Animal, a whole year before debuting in BTS. Since then, the BTS member has worked hard for BTS's biggest hits and his own solo music.
His album titled Hope World reached ninety #1’s on the iTunes chart. He is the first and only Korean Solo Artist to pass five million followers on Spotify. He is also the first Korean soloist to reach #1 in both the World Albums and World Digital Song Sales charts.
“I didn’t think I could love music as I do now,” He said in a live stream, explaining the process for his album. “I started music as a dancer, listened to music as a dancer, and used to express music through my dance.”
Perhaps some of J-Hope’s most famous works is his collaboration with artist Becky G on their feature, Chicken Noodle Soup — a homage to the way black culture inspired so many forms of incredible music and performance till this very day. Chicken Noodle Soup was the 7th most #1 charting single for a soloist and 6th for an Asian soloist. It is also the first multi-language song and the first collaboration in history to reach #1 on iTunes in at least 100 countries.
Chicken Noodle Soup is a homage to all the people and places that inspired J-Hope to dance and perform. It is a homage to all the people that make up his music, his dance, his performance. It is a tribute to everyone who has ever supported him.
From a you-know-what gang of Gwanggu
금남 충장 street 거긴 내 할렘
Geumnam, Chungjang streets, those were my Harlem
뉴런 입단 bounce with my team
Joined Neuron, bounce with my team
춤에 뻑 가 워커홀릭 매일
Head over heels for dancing, I was a workaholic everyday
Perhaps one of J-Hope’s most successful works is his solo album, Hope World. The album peaked at 38 on the Billboard 200 caused J-Hope to become the highest-charting Korean soloist at the time of release. An alternate world created by BTS' rapper, producer, and dancer, Hope World is an entirely vibrant new world where we see J-Hope for who he really is.
J-Hope confessed that he brought his mixtape alive because it was a dream of him to make and play a song that he made about himself. In a way, Hope World came alive because of how badly he wanted it.
He confessed to studying and working hard to find ways to express himself in a way fans and the public alike could see J-Hope for who he really was. Hope World remains a testament to his love for music and performance and a way of telling the world; this is who he really is.
Hope World is also a song that describes J-Hope for who he is, written by him to show the world who he was. The song starts with J-Hope going;
My name is love, a hopeful vibe, a positive rather than a negative type, I live up to my name but ain’t no price.
Whoever you are, let’s travel around the world’s my own feeling that feels like a novel.
Solidly and sturdily, like an optimist, just joyfully together, we’re going to be swans on the surface.
If there was a single song to describe J-Hope for who he was, it would be Hope World. It is a perfect motif to describe J-Hope as who he is; where he talks of how he chooses to believe in himself and the people he loves, going forward in his life and appreciating all the love he gets.
Another incredible track by J-Hope is his single for his album, Daydream that J-Hope wrote the lyrics and made the melody for. Daydream talks of the impossibility of being that can come with being part of the biggest group in the world. In Daydream, J-Hope goes, “Everyone must have been caught like fish,” He raps, “In a net called desire that results from the thirst in life, universal psychological escape, even I cannot swim out of it.”
Mama, his solo track on a previous BTS album Wings, is an ode to his mother, for the love and support she bestowed on him. “I tightened my mom’s belt. When I indulged in it every day, despite my dad’s opposition, she didn’t care and set a small boat of dream afloat.”
His song, Outro: Ego, is a celebration of all the seven years he spent with the members of BTS and how he grew as an artist. In Outro: Ego, J-Hope talks of the way fate plays; it is a reflection of the past while looking forward to the future. His dreams aren’t just dreams anymore. He knows who he is now.
I go back every day
To the me of the past
To a life where I had chosen to give up
I let my self go
But there are some unchanged truths
The fact that times moves forward
The fact there are no if’s, but’s or maybe’s
Almost forgotten memories come to my mind
The devil’s touch and fate recalls
I’m still curious, why was I called upon?
— J-Hope in Outro: Ego
J-Hope’s most recent works is his track on BTS' album, BE. A musical catalog that records what it means to be human and survive in a pandemic, Di-sease is a track entirely dedicated to how it feels to tie your productivity to your sense of worth.
In a pandemic that has robbed all sense of normalcy, Di-sease is a track that makes you question yourself; what does it mean to truly be sick?
When questioned about Di-sease came into fruition and why J-Hope decided to create it, he explained;
“This was a break tinged with uncertainty. It was uncomfortable. I wanted to compare this with the ‘disease’ of our profession. We wanted to spread the message of hope.” — Press Conference for BE.
In Di-sease, J-Hope goes;
Happiness suddenly comes towards me uncomfortably
24 hours, that’s plenty of time
I could sleep all day but there’s still no problem
I think I should work till my body breaks
I’m the damn guy who eats three meals a day
My crime, the dog bit me while I was resting
Scream “Don’t do that,” but I’m depending on results every day
J-Hope’s genius does not stop there. In a previous track titled Dionysus, J-Hope likens the Greek God of wine and uses the creation of wine as a metaphor for creating music. “Arts is a type of wine too, if you drink it you’ll get intoxicated, fool.” J-Hope says, “I’ll show you I’m driven for something completely different. The mic made with ivy and coarse wood. There’s never such a thing as a sound that comes out with just one breath.”
On October 17th, J-Hope along with BTS member Suga became the first Korean lyricists at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 with their feature, Savage Love, with Jason Derulo and Jawsh 685.
When asked about their albums, J-Hope said he thought of BTS' albums as a reflection of their whole group. Some of his biggest works are their biggest hits too. J-Hope writes his own verses in BTS’ songs. He actively takes part in their choreography, namely for some of their biggest hits like Blood, Sweat and Tears and Mic Drop.
A closer look into J-Hope’s music shows us the love he has for his music. It is profound and important. It is impossible not to be entranced when you see J-Hope on stage, performing, doing what he was born to do. There are people born to perform and then there are people born to create. J-Hope is an amalgamation of both.
Listening to J-Hope’s music, you realize — not only do you see an incredibly talented individual, you see someone so in love with their craft — their love for music bleeds in everything they create.
In an episode for their docu-series, J-Hope explained more on how his name came into existence. His name came first, its meaning came later. “Pandora’s box was mentioned,” He said, referencing his verse in Wishing On A Star, “And the last thing left in the box was hope. I think the name made me who I am.”
J-Hope’s music serves as a reminder of how powerful the love you have for what you can do can resonate. His name serves as a reminder of what it means to live a life of hope and how it’s okay to be hopeful, to dream, to exist and be so human. To be an artist and to love what you create are two different things. J-Hope’s existence is a reminder of both.