“It was Hope that was kept in the innermost nook of the box. It trailed behind the miasma of darkness, assuaging the ill effects on humankind. Hope gave people the will to keep on living amidst the pain and strife.”
The introduction of j-hope’s full-length debut solo album, Jack in the Box, is a female voice recounting the myth of Pandora’s Box; it’s a story j-hope, who was born Jung Hoseok, has long gravitated towards, and a partial source of his stage name.
For nearly a decade now as part of BTS, j-hope has more than lived up to the name. He’s embodied it — epitomized it, even — by developing a reputation as the ray of sunshine in the global, record-smashing group. His energy onstage is astounding; anyone who is lucky enough to have seen BTS in concert inevitably walks away amazed by the seemingly endless well of passion and precision he possesses as the dance leader of the group.
“My name is my life,” is the opening line of j-hope’s 2018 mixtape, Hope World, a seven-track, neon-soaked collection of bright beats and optimism. Even recently, BTS’s label BIG HIT MUSIC shared behind the scenes footage of the group preparing for their performance at the 2022 Grammy Awards. Multiple members fell sick with COVID during the rehearsal process — j-hope among them — and when he finally returns to the practice room, there’s visible relief among his members. “Now that Hobi is here, everything is falling into place,” Jimin says. “Don’t be sick, for my sake — my life is harder without you.”
With familiarity often comes expectations, though, and after ten years, j-hope has made it clear that he has been itching for a different lens through which he can explore his creative identity. It’s arrived today, July 15th, in the form of Jack in the Box, the first full-length solo album from any of the members of BTS, and we are decidedly no longer in Hope World.