At midnight, March 2, 2018, Korean Standard Time, the highly anticipated #HIXTAPE, now officially known as “Hope World” by J-Hope of BTS, was released. The lead single, “Daydream,” garnered over 7.4 million views in the first 10 hours of release.
The 7 track mixtape is a far cry sonically from its predecessors, RM and AUGUST D, released by RM and Suga respectively. Our first glimpse into the possibility of a J-Hope mixtape was the 2014 release of “1VERSE.” The subsequent 4 years have been used in perfecting J-Hope’s artistry.
The introduction, “Hope World,” welcomes you into the mind of J-hope and his view on life. The first verse states that, while he is not naive to what life can be, he chooses to be hopeful and positive, “living up to his name”. The track opens with the sound of water, which fits as the second verse make reference to the book “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,” the 19th century novel by Jules Verne in the line “Everyone is Arronax, I’m Captain Nemo”. By the end, he invites us to begin digging into the novel that is his mind, his outlook on life, and his choices.
The track was produced by J-Hope and DOCSKIM, who also produced Jimin’s WINGS solo track, “Lie.” The drastic shift in production shows the versatility of DOCSKIM and the variety found in the members of BTS.
The second track, “P.O.P (Piece of Peace) Pt. 1,” is a peek into the person behind the J-Hope moniker. The illusion of water is still present here through the use of steel pan instrumentation. That is key when paired with lyrics that speak about being a representation of peace for others, as water is normally used to symbolize peaceful and rejuvenating conditions. The lyrics also show depth in J-Hope’s character. He knows the pain of making mistakes and suffering because of them. Even in those circumstances, he wants to “convey courage.” He references his role in BTS as “the standard of happiness,” and makes it clear that he has chosen to walk that road. The chorus confirms the desire of wanting to be someone’s strength and light, their piece of peace.
The chorus gives us another little surprise, J-Hope’s soothing vocals. Underneath the reverb and echo used to create a blanketing effect on the ear, J-Hope’s tone is quite soft and pleasant, thus adding another dimension to this song and mixtape overall.
The third track, and lead single, “Daydream,” is a ’90s House-inspired hip-hop track. The water reference continues here, as J-hope describes himself as a fish caught “in a net called ‘desire’ with thirst in life”. We also hear J-Hope’s rapping ability here, as he changes his cadences nine times through the song. There are also more book references, particularly to Alice in Wonderland and Harry Potter, which leads us to the conclusion that J-Hope is an avid reader who is also able to incorporate things he had read into his art.
The fourth track, “Base Line,” is a total departure sonically from the first three tracks. It is the shortest track on the mixtape, clocking in at 1:30 minutes. The lyrics lend this track to being J-Hope’s own personal cypher, a message brushing off his haters as well as listing out the things he has been able to accomplish in his life, including 10 years of street dance experience.
“HANGSANG,” featuring Supreme Boi, is the fifth track. It has a cockier feel and is a lyrical continuation from “Base Line. This time, J-Hope addresses some of the rumors made by others, including that of buying awards or being given pity prizes. This is heard in the line “fair and square the records we set.” The statement is clear. Everything they have achieved has been though the hard work and dedication of BTS and the ARMY, not money or pity.
The penultimate track, “Airplane,” is the most reflective track on the mixtape. In the lyrics, J-Hope speaks about his dream of flying and how he was able to live that dream. The tone here is reflective also, as J-Hope sings the hook and raps the verses in his lower register. The track sits in the R&B lane, which he dominates using his raspier vocals. It is an excellent way to lead into the end of the mixtape.
The outro is “Blue Side.” This song has a jazz feel mixed with ’90s R&B. The use of filtering allows for J-Hope’s vocals to be like the Pied Piper, leading us to the blue side. It also leaves the door open for subsequent projects and releases for J-Hope. Will we get an even deeper look into the mind of Jung Hoseok? Maybe.
The mixtape is a solid introduction to J-Hope as a solo artist. The quality of the production reveals that he used the past four years to fine-tune his craft. It is clear that J-Hope has more to say. When he chooses to open this dialogue again will remain a mystery.