For the last few years, any tweet including #Hixtape coupled with fans’ cries of frustration and nerves of anticipation — until last Friday.
After years of songwriting, editing and sound engineering, Jung Hoseok, known more commonly by his stage name J-Hope, finally announced the release of his much-anticipated mixtape, Hope World, to millions of fans on the group’s Twitter account. J-Hope is best known as the main dancer and rapper of South Korean boyband BTS, and Hope World is his first mixtape. While J-Hope manages to successfully articulate the personal aspects of his life through his lyrics, the energetic rhythms of the mixtape tend to distract from the artist’s message as a whole.
Within the seven songs included in Hope World, J-Hope maintains his positive and energetic image while exploring the more serious and yearning aspects of his life. J-Hope uses the mixtape’s first song, “Hope World,” as a canvas, painting a picture of how he views himself and his life. In this song, J-Hope introduces his “world.” The song’s sound mirrors his bright personality, and that same personality shapes his experimentation with the electronica and dance genres.
After breaking the surface in “Hope World,” J-Hope delves deeper into his thoughts with “P.O.P,” otherwise known as “Piece of Peace.” In this track, J-Hope explores one of his main goals: to produce music that helps people find a “piece of peace” in their own lives. The use of a simple piano melody gives the song a dramatic feel, reflecting the nature of J-Hope’s goals. J-Hope also effectively uses electronic hi-hats to drive the course of his lyrics, only allowing the beat to finally drop when he makes a summarizing statement.
J-Hope includes many storytelling elements throughout Hope World, but his level of effectiveness in each song varies. The rapper best displays his songwriting skills in “Daydream.” In “Daydream,” J-Hope effectively alludes to Harry Potter and Alice in Wonderland, adding a unique twist to life’s challenges. On the other hand, Hope World’s fourth track, “Base Line,” is J-Hope’s worst example of songwriting. In “Base Line,” J-Hope focuses on the catchiness of his lyrics, repeating the song title in the majority of the chorus. As a result, the song’s lyrics lack depth. Additionally, the song’s short length fails to provide J-Hope with enough time to create a powerful story.
Throughout Hope World, there is an interesting contrast between energetic, trap beats pitted against serious, contemplative lyrics. As a result, the energetic, dance-provoking beats found within the mixtape take away from the seriousness of his discussed topics. For instance, though “P.O.P” is intended to reveal a more personal side of the rapper, its upbeat rhythms strip the song of some of its power.
Throughout his debut, J-Hope makes few attempts to step out of his musical comfort zone. The mixtape’s bass drops, trap beat structures and hi-hat rolls all prove that J-Hope stays true to his breakdancing, hip-hop roots. J-Hope mixes these sounds together to create a mood similar to his 2015 single “1 VERSE.” Though Hope World was the perfect opportunity to take risks, J-Hope failed to explore other sounds for his music.
In Hope World, J-Hope communicates his thoughts and feelings to the listener, but the bouncy, trap-like beats can make this transfer of ideas cloudy. For future projects, J-Hope must create a perfect balance between energetic rhythms and serious subject matter to ensure that his message isn’t lost in the process. However, accomplishing this feat will be difficult as he transitions into another part of his life, filled with stories to express through music.