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Review: Jack In The Box by j-hope

Back in June, BTS announced their hiatus, wanting to strengthen their collective foundation by exploring solo projects. About a month after their joint statement, j-hope became the first BTS member to release his first full-length solo project - a 10-track concept album flexing his astonishing ingenuity and further cementing his place in the industry.

Photo courtesy of BIGHIT MUSIC

Jack In The Box crackles to life with a retelling of Pandora's Box by an ethereal voice rising from the radio static. The story recalls how Greek Mythology's first woman unleashed what Zeus had kept inside the box, all that was foul now broken free from its confines. As Pandora grieved, she heard a feeble quiver from the box, immediately feeling her angst melt away. Her heart glowed with warmth; hope was kept in the innermost nook of the box.

In the first half of the album, Jung Hoseok simmers inside the box. It almost feels like we're intruding as he holds hope in the palm of his hand, concern laden with childlike wonder. Within it lies all his fears and insecurities, but most of all - his ambition. With deep, looming beats and a certain jumpiness to his voice, Hoseok reveals the darker parts of himself as opposed to his previous project, Hope World. Yet, he never comes across as unsure of his soul. Hope may falter, external demands may tear him apart, and internal struggles are inevitable. His passion remains; the album is a testament to his unbridled love for movement, sonic and physical.

Music Box: Reflection represents the tipping point. When the box finally opens, life on the outside isn’t all it once seemed to be, and the tension builds until it snaps. The album ends with a frantic; frankly, feral-looking J-Hope in literal flames asking exasperatedly, do I put out the fire or burn even brighter in 방화(Arson).

Seeing Hoseok embrace every part of himself in Jack In The Box is genuinely refreshing. He also recognises how sometimes, hope is a forced concept. It takes tremendous courage not to abandon hope when hope is precisely what you embody to millions of people around the globe. I believe this album symbolises a turn in both J-Hope's solo work and BTS's future releases and group dynamic. When an artist breaks free from metaphorical (and, in this case, literal) boxes, we might be in for some unexpected turns. I, for one, can't wait to see where we go next.

Congratulations to J-Hope on his extraordinary performance at Lollapalooza music festival this weekend, making history as the first South Korean artist to headline a major music festival in the States and breaking the festival's attendance records!

j to the hope, indeed.

Follow j-hope on Instagram and listen to Jack In The Box on Spotify and Apple Music.

by Felix Oppheim


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