J-hope - Hope World, 2018
Signed up the 07/06/2017
How to describe this album… This album feels like an experience. It feels like reading a fictional literature that gives you a different outlook on life each time you get to the end. I’ve played this album back and forth, front to back, side to side (if that was even possible) and each time felt like I was on a journey to travel around the world in 80 days. No, it felt like I was 20 000 leagues under the sea. No, to be more accurate, it felt like I fell down a rabbit hole in Alice and Wonderland and ended up having the best time of my life. Either way you look at it, I was on a journey and I believe that’s what J-hope envisioned for his listeners when he made this album.
Now before you close this review because at this point, you might have realised that you may have seen this name from a K-pop stan account and you’re not about to read anything K-pop related because “all these ARMYs are invading my personal space. First it was twitter, now its tiny couch? Can I breathe?” just give me a few seconds to explain myself.
When it comes to music, at the root of my passion, hip hop has always been what I define as my favourite genre. It is diverse yet so unique to itself. From rappers, MCs, beat boxers to the whole work. It is forever evolving but remaining true to itself and that’s by moving its audience by giving us music we can relate to on some level. now, hip hop is very accepting of people from all walks of life because at the root of it, hip hop is an expressive genre that allows the rapper to get their message across and if that’s the best way to get their message delivered, why would anyone stand in their way? Unless… unless they suck but that’s a totally different subject from this one. Just don’t disrespect the people who came before you and you are literally good to go.
Now how does all this tie into K-pop? Be patient grasshopper, the answer is closer than you think. Now if you were someone like me who assumed that K-pop meant “Korean pop” well grab yourself a bottle of sprite and take one sip because you sir/madam/gender non-confirming reader were partially right. Partially right? Yep. Let me explain. Whilst doing research for this review, I came across a YouTube video that explained something that I have been questioning for a while. Why is it, when some Korean artists irrespective of what genre they make sometimes get classified as “K-pop”?
I’ve listened to Dean, DPR live, CL, Rich Brian, Yoon Mi Rae, Agust D, Loco, RM to name a few and I can guarantee you besides the fact that they are Korean, they music sounds nothing like what we associate pop music to be. Most of the people I’ve listed here except for Dean who does Soul/R&B, are rappers. As in “sway, drop the beat, I’m about to hit you with the sickest freestyle ever” rappers. So why are they categorised under K-pop? well, K-pop can be defined as “Korean pop music” or “Korean-popular music” The latter focusing on more than one genre be it hip hop, trap, electronica etc. hence why a lot of them being categorised underneath that genre.
Now do I think that’s a bad thing? Somewhat. Thing is, had I known that a few of these Korean groups did hip hop tracks, I would have been a menace to society a long time ago, I would have had a stan account by now. I’m joking, but I would have given a lot of groups a chance instead of turning my head away at the thought of listening to pop music. But on the flip side, I should have put away my own bias against pop music and taken the plunge. I would have been pleasantly surprised by how weird the music was or how good the music was. In my case, it was good. Pretty good.
So good, it made me consider listening to their individual albums which brought me right here. To Hope World.
Hope World is a studio album made by J-hope often stylised as j-hope (his government name is: 정호석 Jung Ho-seok) and it was released on the 1st of March 2018. He is a member of the globally known Korean boy band known as BTS whose beloved fans are known as ARMY. Listening to this album was as fun as getting to know who the individual is behind the moniker. He is this album and the album is him. “Sewela, what does that mean?” once you get to the end, I’ll guarantee you it will all make sense… hopefully.
While looking for inspiration to write this review, I stumbled across a tweet that described the rap line of BTS as follows: “Namjoon analyses the world, Yoongi criticises the world and Hoseok visualises the world” and this could not be an accurate description from a fan’s perspective and if you take the time to listen to this album, you’ll understand it too from an outsider’s perspective.
Remember how I talked about how this album is an experience? It is. When he was younger, J-hope was a fan of a book called “Twenty thousand leagues under the sea” written by Jules Verne. He hints at this at the beginning of the track with a submarine submerging under water. He uses the book as a metaphor for his life. He wants us to join him on this journey into his world, Hope World, as he acts as Captain Nemo and guides us on our journey and what a journey it is. Hope World is a fun song that makes you want to jump out of your seat and dance (side note: this is saying a lot because I have two left feet and if there’s anything in this world that I don’t do, dancing is it). It is light-hearted and captivating and as a title track, it serves its purpose to capture a listener’s attention.
The following song, titled “P.O.P (Piece of Piece), Pt. 1” starts off with a captivating beat that transitions into a melodic tone played on the piano. The tone of the beat then switches from the simplicity of the piano and overlays it with the bass and 808s as well as a pop synthesis that gives it a hip hop melody you would swear for a moment, you actually understood Korean because J-hope’s voice perfectly ties the song together by rapping and effortlessly transitioning into singing. Okay, that was a mouthful. In simple English, I love this song. It is my favourite song on this album. Why do I love it so much? Because I can relate to it. It doesn’t try to be anything else besides a manifesto to the world that declares itself to be what it wants to be in this messy world. J-hope wants to be a piece of piece in someone’s life through his music. He knows he has a big platform and he wants to use his platform to hopefully inspire people to keep having hope that something in the future will work out for them, just like it did for him.
The third song of this album is called “Daydream”
For those of you who have ever read “Alice in Wonderland” you would have picked up on a couple of themes in the book, the one that stands out to me has to be the theme of growing up and the awkwardness that comes with it. It doesn’t make sense but that reigns true to how life really works, although we try to apply logic to it, most often than not, it doesn’t make sense and that’s okay. Now with this song, we see J-hope talk about how hard it is to achieve your dreams, almost impossible at times but just because something seems impossible doesn’t mean it will always be impossible. This is best exemplified in the music video when we see two distinct versions of J-hope, the superstar and the Gwangju native Ho-soek, who alternate between scenes. Obviously, like most of us when we were younger, Ho-soek aspired to become something big in his future and he did but the journey getting there was nothing short of challenging and it came with its own set of challenges, almost like falling into a rabbit hole of crazy adventures. See what I did there? It finally came full circle. There’s a ton of other things I like about this song. Like how the whole entire song can basically be summed up as an escapism from reality, hence why there is so many references to fictional books like The Harry Potter series and to no one’s surprise at this point, Alice in Wonderland and 80 days around the world. I also love the reference to Douglas Adams “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” with “DON’T PANIC!” appearing on J-hope’s cell phone, the overall cinematography of the whole entire video, the contrasting visuals we see when J-hope or Ho-soek are on screen, or how the song transitions into a house beat towards the end. Honestly, I could go on for days, but this review will never see the end so let’s move on to the next song. Cue the interlude!
Is this mic on? Good. Before discussing the interlude of this album called “Baseline,” I would like to turn everyone’s attention to a trailer called “Boy Meets Evil.”
now, if you watched the video and you’ve witnessed the talent this man has when it comes to dancing, let me give you the 411 on this man (do people still say that nowadays? Is it still hip?) Before joining BTS, J-hope was a street dancer. Like, if I had to put this into perspective for people like me who need silly examples, if J-hope was in the Step-Up movies, he would be Moose aka the only reason why those step-up movies were fun to watch. That’s how immensely talented he is. He is so talented, back in 2008, he won a national dance competition in South Korea. I think you guys get the picture now. Now with Baseline, it serves as an ode to his street dancing roots that can only be properly thanked using an old school hip hop beat that sounds like it was played on turntables from a vinyl that was probably being mixed with another vinyl by a dude wearing a bucket hat and baggy clothes. What I’m trying to say is: This song is great but it’s too short. So how did he counter the length of this song? By creating Hangsang and ft Supreme Boi as the finishing touch.
I really said that like I have any idea who Supreme Boi is and I honestly don’t, but I know who J-hope is so hey, that should count for something, amirite? No? okay. On a serious note though, Supreme Boi was the producer for this song and it goes in hard so props to him, he did good. Now, if I had to describe this song, I would compare it to Watch the Throne “Otis.” Have you ever felt broke listening to a song, but the lyrics go in so hard, you literally have no other choice but to dance to it? that was Otis and that’s literally how Hangsang sounds like, but it Korean. Is this a change in tone of the album? Yes. Do I agree with it? Completely. Here’s my reasoning: the song may sound different style wise, but it keeps up with the theme of the album which has essentially been taking a journey to get to know the artist. At this point, we’ve already gone through his past, his aspirations in life, his hopes and dream. Now he made it and he is enjoying it. He gets to travel the world with his closest friends who are basically his brothers, he can afford to wear designer clothes and since he has a good sense of style, his looks are always good. sometimes, you need a moment just to say, “I worked hard enough to get here, I should spoil myself from time to time” And honestly, he should.
You must be tired reading this review; I can tell but rest assured when I tell you I’m almost done. “Airplane” is the second last song on this album, and it is my second favourite song on this album.
Right of the bat: the music video is fantastic, there are so many visually compelling shots in this video, I could write an essay on it. But I’m not going to do it now, what I am going to do is explain the how aeroplane came to be. When he was younger, J-hope always hoped that he would fly in an aeroplane one day. Then one day, while on tour, flying from one tour destination to the next, it finally hit him that he finally made it. He is literally living out his dream, right here and right now and this moment couldn’t be any greater (unless you consider being the first Korean idol group to perform in front of sold out audience at Wembley stadium in 2019 then I don’t know, that could give that feeling a run for it’s money but that’s just me). What makes this song even more compelling for me is the fact that the other band members jumped on this track. How they do it is also very subtle in a way that could be missed to the untrained ear. It starts off as a build up with him initially singing the bridge by himself and as the song progresses, the other members join in and they also add in adlibs here and there which I thought was amazing because of how simple yet impactful their feature was to the song. We shouldn’t forget that every single milestone J-hope achieved in his life after joining BTS, the other members were always there to celebrate it with him so it only makes sense to have them on this track because without them, he wouldn’t be who he is now. Another thing, in the beginning, I said that we submerged underwater to explore his world, with this track, we leave the water and set our eyes onto greater heights where J-hope, as usual, serves as our pilot.
The last song is called “Blue Side (Outro)” and there’s nothing else to say about the song except you know that warm feeling you get when you think about something from your past that makes you nostalgic for simpler times? Like when you went to the beach for the first time and remembered how the sun touched the horizon and a glimmer of light spread across the ocean and in that moment, everything felt at peace? Or getting to re-live your last moments with a loved one before they passed away? Getting that one last hug that was warm and comforting before saying goodbye forever? This is how this song feels like. But just like that memory, it ends too quickly and that’s the only thing I don’t like about it.
Like I say at the end of my reviews, I could be reading too much into this album and it is not as deep as I make it out to be. It could just be a simple album. An album I would recommend to anyone. It is a solid piece of work. If I had to rank it, I would give it a solid 8/10.
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