Chapter two for K-pop septet BTS kicked off last June and out of the seven members, j-hope had been the first to go solo. He first delivered a ten-track strong album titled Jack In The Box, notably a sharp pivot away from the bright, sunshine energy of his previous mixtape Hope World. This was followed by the pulsating energy of his headlining performance at Lollapalooza 2022 in Grant Park, Chicago—considered to be one of the most major festivals in the US. But little did we know; amidst the flurry of schedules lined up for the star in the lead-up to Chicago, j-hope had made sure to capture the rush of it all, only to release it as j–hope In The Box: a documentary that was centred around his solo album preparations and the phenomenal stage he put on at the music fest. Here are five takeaways we’ve learnt, post-watch of the 85-minute documentary.
This was fully-formed j-hope—revealed to us in the best way possible
“With Hope World, I was still inside the box. I always wondered if that was who I really was. It felt like it was time to show a maturer side of me,”reflects j-hope, within the first five minutes of the documentary. And it sets the pretext to everything we witness for the rest of the show. From why he pushed himself so hard to release his solo record to how the festival setlist had been a significant capsule of its own. The latter, pertinent in making sure his audience would understand the overarching message he hopes to exclaim out loud: a reconciliation of his artistic identity with the limelight hours he’s notably experienced ‘outside the box’.
He was really involved at every step of the way
Granted, most of his fans (aka the ARMY) are already privy to just how hard the man works; known as the dance lead for the septet, he has often been touted to have a strict and perfectionist approach to making sure each stage they present is perfected to a tee. But this time around? j-hope revealed that he had to take full control over everything else as well and it wasn’t limited to just songwriting for his album or the endless rehearsals for Lollapalooza.
For the star-studded listening party, which he hosted in his company building, HYBE, the documentary also shows how he had been heavily involved in the process: from a pre-tasting of the food and beverages to personally inviting each and every guest who turned up for the evening, including legendary artists Taeyang, Tiger JK, Yoon Mirae, Simon Dominic and of course, the other members of BTS. Add all that to the already long list of things he had to do in the lead-up to the music festival, and we can imagine how j-hope had a truly busy July indeed.
10 years after his debut, his dancer roots still shine through and through
Before becoming a member of BTS, j-hope had been part of a street dance team and was considerably well-known in the scene. His illustrious dance background has carried him well into his K-pop idol days; his intense preparations for the Lollapalooza performance shine light on his deft attention to detail when it comes to how the stage looks as a whole. Throughout the documentary, he regularly reviewed rehearsals to check on the chemistry and appearance of his dance crew and on a trip back to his hometown, he harked back to a time when his love for dance first began.
The members are undeniably, each other’s support system
Although this comes as no surprise, all the other BTS members were also present throughout all the little moments in-between. From their near-full strength appearance (sans Suga) at the listening party, to Jimin’s sweet gesture of flying down to Chicago in support of j-hope’s performance, it’s clear as day that the members can never be separated for long. Despite being there to perform alone, j-hope himself cited how Jimin’s company was of a big help to him: “I now understand artists who bring their friends along when they perform.”
j-hope confirms the return of ‘Hope on the Street’
Whilst his Jack In The Box era might have focused on the future of his career as an artist, j-hope’s old YouTube series Hope On The Street—where the dancer-turned-idol is often seen practising choreographies and perfecting his moves—highlights his love for dance. And the raw format just might be making a comeback this year; although to what extent, we’re not quite sure. Whatever it is, we’re sure he’s answering the question he poses in his ‘Arson’ finale all on his own: ‘Do I put out the fire, or do I burn even brighter?’. It’s clear he’s choosing the latter, and we’ll still be here for the better of it.
Watch j-hope In The Box on Disney+ now.