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BTS’ J-Hope Welcomes the Dawn of a New Artistic Era in His Latest Release ‘More’

The track serves as a pre-release single ahead of the rapper-producer’s forthcoming solo debut album ‘Jack In The Box’

Divyansha Dongre Jul 01, 2022

If Hope World was your ticket to a tranquil world brimming with hope, optimism, and joy, J-Hope’s forthcoming solo debut album Jack In The Box seems to be anything but joyous. Following BTS’ unanimous decision to take a short break from group musical projects, rapper and dance prodigy J-Hope announced his official solo debut album with a slew of teaser images and a snippet to the pre-release single, “More”– out now.

Co-written by J-Hope alongside Ivan Jackson Rosenberg, “More” is an honest narration, outlining the artist’s relationship with music, fame and everything in between. Despite selling out stadiums, bagging trophies and crunching in millions in income, J-Hope expresses his desire for constant artistic growth: “I want it, stadium with ma fans, still/ Bag all the trophies and Grammys too/ Fame, money’s not everything I already know/ My work makes me breathe, so I want more.” The track further explores his work ethic as he recalls the past 11 years he’s invested in studying music and exploring his craft. The countless hours of hard work and passion eventually helped J-Hope become a self-taught artist. With hopes of keeping his passion for music alive, the rapper also expresses his battle with imposter syndrome, confessing he is “not enough”: “Keep my passion, I gotta go/ I am still (not enough).”

Characterized by rhythmic, old-school hip-hop beats, “More” syncs beautifully with J-Hope’s gritty, husky vocal delivery. The track undergoes a delightful sonic shift in the chorus that sees producer Basstracks weave in a soaring grunge-rock composition. The percussion and bass guitar riffs add to the dramatics of the single, dialing up its power quotient. Considering the chorus is where J-Hope declares his thirst for artistic fulfillment, the fierce sonic production complements the raw, honest declaration. 

The music video gives us a glimpse into J-Hope as an artist and J-Hope as a jester; the latter can symbolize a shadow that’s constantly following him around. Opening with a stranger delivering a box at J-Hope’s doorstep, the video sees the rapper cruising through various sets. From a lifeless corporate setting to an asylum and a garage where he rocks out with his band, “More’s” visual narration seems to follow J-Hope as he searches for answers. The music video finally concludes with the rapper looking into the miniature versions of the sets inside the box, symbolizing that his answers, goals and aspirations can no longer be found inside a box. 

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In a recent interview with Weverse magazine, the rapper-producer expressed his desire to switch to darker, vulnerable themes as opposed to those he would view with rose-tinted glasses. “You’ll understand when these songs come out later,” J-Hope responded when asked what side of him he would be exploring as a solo artist. “But if I was going to discuss these things, I couldn’t always be light about it. That’s why I edged a little closer to a darker place, which I think allowed me to open up about my life story completely.” 

J-Hope’s re-imagined artistic vision is also reflected in the album’s teaser visuals, which gravitate more toward a jester as opposed to a classic depiction of a clown. Known for their astute observational prowess in medieval times, jesters had a way of presenting harsh realities and unapologetic observations through a witty, comical approach. Medieval symbolism aside, the album’s title also points towards J-Hope’s artistic evolution. Jack in the box is a popular children’s toy that, when cranked a sufficient number of times, prompts a clown or a jester to pop up. The sudden appearance of the character is startling and surprising; a reaction J-hope intends to establish while his warm, sunshine-like demeanor takes a back seat. 

The concept photographs also see J-Hope exhibit a chilling, spooky expression in various settings, one of which resembles a police station. Donned in black with a jester’s hat, the rapper is photographed looking upwards in a doorway straight out of the set of a horror film. In the second set of photographs, J-Hope, still channeling a stoic expression, is snapped seated against a bright blue backdrop. The juxtaposition between the contrasting visuals potentially hints towards the rapper’s perseverance to keep the flame of optimism burning amidst the chaos and darkness that life had to offer. 

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In 2021, J-Hope released the extended version of his 2018 dream-pop track “Blue Side,” which originally served as the outro to his debut mixtape Hope World. Accompanied by a heartfelt letter where he reminisced about working on his debut mixtape, the Gwangju-bred rapper penned down his approach towards it as “innocently composed music.” He further explained his approach metaphorically, saying it was a product of “the young me who was like a blank canvas drawing in myself however I wanted.” 

Though J-Hope labeled his approach towards Hope World as a rushing gravitation to share his music, hinting he didn’t give much of a thought while creating the tracks, the mixtape offered a peek into the mind of a young rapper with a hunger to share compelling stories and a musician with a stronghold over composition and production. With themes of hard work, fame, success and friendship narrated as a seasoned musician, Hope World and its subsequent success was a key stepping stone in J-Hope’s solo artistry, giving the world a taste of the versatile musician and natural-born performer in him. Now with Jack In The Box just two weeks shy of its release, fans all around the world are eagerly waiting to meet J-Hope’s darker, re-imagined artistic persona. 

In other news, J-Hope will be performing an hour-long solo stage at this year’s Lollapalooza festival on the evening of July 31st. This makes the BTS member the first Korean artist to headline a main stage of a major U.S. music festival. He joins Metallica, Dua Lipa, and Green Day, who have been previously announced as headliners for this year’s edition. Other headlining artists performing on July 31st include Jane’s Addiction, The Kid Laroi and Charli XCX.