I was lounging around our home’s sala set when I heard something unusual my bubblegum pop-loving sister was playing in the room next door. It piqued my curiosity because it’s not the usual musical genre she usually listens to, and it is sung in Korean. Upon going to her room, I asked who it was, and she said it was J-Hope’s current solo hit.
Get J-Hope’s ‘Jack in the Box’ album here: LINK.
It has been a long while since I had a musical orgasm, and this time, it hit me again, and it was at its peak ‘coz I also felt a bundle of 90s nostalgia.
If I’m not mistaken, J-Hope is the first k-pop idol to embrace drum and bass, acid house, and punk. The intro, outro, and refrain of ‘More’ is an open-ended drum pattern of both hi-hat and rims variety that reminds me of the intro of Blur’s ‘Song 2,’ albeit slower and All Saints’ cover of Red Hot Chili Pepper’s ‘Under the Bridge.’ That type of drum pattern was quite common in the 90s and embraced mainly by trip-hop and big beat artists of the era.
Except for the chorus, J-Hope’s ‘More’ is a groovy drum&bass alternative track with a pinch of electronic trip-hop. J-Hope’s distinctive vocals lever between rhythmically back phrased lines (lazy, sassy, loungy vocals) and reverse echo vocal sounds (almost screamy rock vocals with mad backward sound effects like electro dance-rock band, The Prodigy) in the chorus.
However, J-Hope surprises us with a mix of lounge and chill music in the bridge part, where many Korean and Korean-American artists currently adhere. It is a sweet surprise after mostly giving off a “dark vibe” for most of the song’s stretch.
I was delighted but unsurprised that Hybe gave a lot of creative freedom to BTS and Hybe’s producers. In BTS’ last VLive, they said that it had been a while since each member created their distinct sound based on their persona and perhaps their evolution as artists and musicians in their own right. And apparently, they meant it when they said that. Based on J-Hope’s ‘More,’ the first of each of their solo releases, they weren’t just bluffing; so far, J-Hope has grown a lot in his musical expedition.
However, the grave experimentation and unprecedented J-Hope’s track, ‘More,’ wasn’t much of a surprise for me for several reasons. When you are a part of the current most popular boy band in the world, it’s easier to find loyalty and introduce new and unusual music to your fans who otherwise wouldn’t listen to the music you produce. Despite your music being experimental, your loyal fan base would definitely not miss out on supporting and buying your music albums and could only hope that the other songs in it would be more palatable to their usual taste. You could still bring a lot of buck to it. It is never an issue.
Get J-Hope’s ‘Jack in the Box’ album here: LINK
But to be fair with Hybe and Big Hit, as for my next reason, this experimental, drum&bass, big beat, acid, punk track from J-Hope is not the first song that made me love Hybe and how they give many of their producers their creative freedom. Enhypen’s last albums, Dimension : Dilemma and Dimension : Answer, offered a lot of k-pop music breakthroughs as many of their songs are a unique mix of trip-hop, punk rock, and alternative music. What’s best about all these Hybe producers is that they’re the best at their fields and give great mixes without trying so hard to make these idols’ music so “cool.”
One surprise for me, though, was J-Hope. I never expected that he would be open to listening to more genres of music, especially the least common ones, like drum and bass or acid, or that his musical identity would be darker or more alternative, especially since many of his past solo mixtapes dwell more on contemporary hip-hop, rap, and r&b. Well, his record collection might have grown in the past few years to be able to write and perform ‘More,’ an extraordinarily trippy track. I love it; I love it, I love it! I have further love for J-hope, who usually falls among the last numbers of my BTS bias rank.
Even though I don’t claim to be an official ARMY, I’m looking forward and already imagining what the rest of the BTS members’ solo would sound like. J-Hope has set the bar high, especially in musical experimentation. I wonder if the others could keep up now that J-Hope has gone out of his comfort zone.