As the rapper and choreography leader of BTS, j-hope has many achievements to his name. From helping pen a majority of the septet's hits to producing memorable numbers for himself, the rapper has created a reputation as an artist who is a important part of the ensemble. He is able to create good music within a group, blending in and standing out as the song demands.
However, the Baseline rapper truly comes into his own when he has complete freedom over his own songs, as evident in his 2018 mixtape Hope World and recently released album Jack in the Box.
Just Dance, Daydream and 8 other best solo songs by BTS' j-hope so far
Prior to becoming a part of BTS, j-hope was a street dancer, well-known in underground circles, but with no background in rap or music. Despite this, the 1994-born dancer worked on his rapping skills, strengthening his sense of rhythm to show off his unique musical sound and inimitable style.
From Ego to Chicken Noodle Soup, from Blue Side (full version) to = (Equal Sign), BTS' j-hope has a diverse solo discography. Here are the top 10 solo songs by BTS' j-hope that show off the rapper's versatility, talent and depth.
1) 1 VERSE (2015)
Part of BTS' incredible Soundcloud discography, 1 VERSE was j-hope's first attempt at a solo, wherein he sampled El Chapo by The Game and Skrillex. The rapper explores a darker side that might have been subdued due to his sunny and optimistic persona portrayed to the audience.
With lyrics denouncing the criticism that BTS' rappers received for being in an idol group, j-hope seems to explore themes that have affected him as a person and a rapper. He compares himself to a watermelon, because people would judge BTS, and by extension, him, without understanding the core of what they stand for.
Though the song has not received as much attention as it deserves, 1 VERSE remains among j-hope's masterpieces, offering an insight into the rapper's thought process and his evolution since BTS' debut.
"I don’t wear a mask, this is my motto/ I live my life, doing what I need to do, sh*t/ Not everything is the same/ Building my career that fits my essence."
2) Intro: Boy Meets Evil (2016)
Written at a time when BTS reached a milestone in their musical career, Boy Meets Evil marks j-hope's first time creating an intro song for any of their albums. The first song in Wings sets the theme of the album - that of the push and pull between good and evil, lush with different wings of temptation and classical references.
Boy Meets Evil also allowed fans a glimpse into the way j-hope blends his skills as a dancer and a rapper. In a spellbinding performance at the 2016 Mnet Asian Music Awards (MAMA), the rapper combined the fluidity in his rap with effortless dance moves, making the audience feel the seduction behind every lyric.
BTS' main dancer lulls us into the "too sweet" temptation, while the lyrics steadily remind us, "This love is another name for evil."
3) Trivia 起 : Just Dance (2018)
BTS' Love Yourself series is among the most successful ventures by the septet, complete with a World Tour and enthralling performances by the members. j-hope's solo song in it, Just Dance, is perhaps the best testament to his incredible prowess as a performer.
The Baseline rapper writes a love letter to his pursuit of perfection in dance with the lyrics,
"Uh even the enclosed, stifling practice room/ Uh turns into a paradise when we are together/ Ay Now, even my dream that didn’t an answer/ Ay can be shared to form a bond of empathy every day."
The song is best enjoyed as a live performance, surrounded by thousands of people screaming j-hope's name as he enjoys the attention on him.
4) Daydream (2018)
j-hope's 2018 mixtape, Hope World, was a combination of everything that made the rapper so uniquely him: color, hope within darkness, and an emotional depth that would surprise many.
With the music video featuring references to his most recent album, Jack in the Box (and a surprise cameo by V), Daydream contrasts a dream life that the 27 year-old rapper seems to be living with an ordinary life that he seems to be missing out on. He also wants to be "Young Wild and Free," and paints a poignant picture of the price of fame, adoration, and love.
5) Chicken Noodle Soup (feat. Becky G) (2019)
While he explored different rap and musical styles in his mixtape, Chicken Noodle Soup was j-hope's homage to his street dancer roots that molded him into one-seventh of BTS.
Adapted from DJ Webstar and Young B's song of the same name, Becky G and J-Hope's collaborative effort celebrates the original while sprinkling in their own culture and language. j-hope raps in Korean, Becky G adds in her Spanish verse, along with the English pre-chorus and chorus.
Each lyric carves out their stories with j-hope rapping about how his time as a dancer in Neuron (the name of his dance troupe) gave him the inclination to become the performer that he is, while Becky chimes in, saying that people did not take her seriously as a rapper as she was a woman, but she, a strong Latina, was above the naysayers.
A special performance of the song featuring all seven members of BTS took place during the group's 2021 Muster concert, including Becky G's Spanish lyrics rapped by the septet. Becky G and the BTS rapper recently performed the song for the first time at Lollapaloza.
6) Outro : Ego (2020)
Part of the 2020 mega-successful Map of the Soul:7 album, Outro: Ego is j-hope's take on Carl Jung's psychological theory of ego. The track begins with RM's line from Intro: Skool Luv Affair, connecting it with the leader's Intro: Persona, bringing the album to a full circle.
Ego is more along the lines of what one would expect the BTS rapper to create - a song full of hope for the future, while looking back on a past that taught him how to overcome. He takes a long glance at his years as a dancer, and then his life when BTS was yet to become famous. He eventually comes to the conclusion that "Wherever my way", he can only trust himself to go the right way, following his ego.
7) Blue Side (extended version) (2021)
Originally serving as the final track in his 2018 mixtape, j-hope released the full version on the third anniversary of Hope World. The song is thematically different from the other songs on the album, and brings j-hope back to when he was young and naive, with the Blue Side serving as a place of solace and reminder of times gone by.
In a VLIVE session in 2022, the rapper confirmed that he had a bigger picture in mind when he commissioned Eddie Kang to create the cover for his song. With a jack-in-the-box toy being a part of the illustration by the artist, j-hope was hinting at his 2022 solo album Jack in the Box.
It was also a reference to his stage name, which comes from the myth of Pandora's Box. When all the pain and suffering left the box, the only thing left was hope - which alleviates any hardship people have to suffer.
The full version of the song was recently added to streaming sites such as Spotify and Apple Music, allowing fans to listen to the song conveniently.
8) MORE (2022)
More was released as the first single from Jack in the Box, and it showed a new side of j-hope, rocking a punk-rock look, complete with darkset eyes and a sound that was astonishing.
With music reminiscent of 90s grunge rock bands like Nirvana, the rapper speaks about how working hard has landed him in the position that it has, but he still keeps wanting more. Despite the multiple achievements, feedback, and awards that he has already received as part of BTS, he seems to be hungry for more accolades as a solo artist as well.
"I want it, stadium with my fans, I still do/ I sweep into my bag all the trophies, Grammy’s, too/ Fame and money don’t mean everything, I already know it/ My work makes me breathe, so I want MORE."
9) = (Equal Sign) (2022)
Compared to the more hardcore rap of both More and Arson, = (Equal Sign) is softer R&B tones and a universal message of treating people with respect no matter where they come from.
= (Equal Sign) happens to be the shortest track on the album, which makes it easy to listen to. It represents the values that BTS stands by - against prejudice and towards equality. j-hope's attempt at singing the chorus in English (despite confessing to not being good at it) speaks of his propensity to touch hearts with sincerity.
"Perhaps this is homework for everyone/ I should first awaken myself to the truth/ that it’s not to be discriminated, it’s just different/ That the victim of prejudice is no one else but us, we need to know."
10) Arson (2022)
The second title track in Jack in the Box, Arson connects the passion, hunger, dedication, and grit that an artist has for their craft to a scorching hot flame. A fire that refuses to extinguish because of the "shower with oil" that j-hope takes, because his thirst for more fuels his passion.
Arson also touches upon the old adage, "Quit while you're ahead." The rapper questions repeatedly whether letting go of all his achievements when he is the pinnacle of success is the right thing to do.
While the blaze started due to his intense fervor, it (success) has already spread beyond expectations. Seeking more after causing all this arson seems exuberant, but the song ends with a question instead of a definitive answer.
"Right, I’m the one who lit up the flame’/ Now I ask myself, choose what/ Do I put out the fire,/ or make it flare up even stronger."
With J-Hope's Lollapalooza event showcasing a lot more of his solo discography to the world, and Jack in the Box taking over the Billboard charts, it has become clear that BTS' second chapter will be one for the books. Organizers of Lollapalooza 2022 confirmed that the Hangsang rapper was the highest ticket-selling artist in the history of the festival. One can only wait and watch the new colors the singer is sure to display in his works (both solo and in BTS) henceforth.
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