J-Hope's Jack In the Box Album Review: Starting Chapter Two with a Fiery Bang

Jumping out of the box and setting chapter two ablaze BTS multi-talented member J-Hope has dropped his eagerly anticipated full-length album, "Jack in the box." Released on July 15, 2022, at 1 pm KST the album consists of 10 tracks including the hit single “More.” The pre-release single debuted at number one on the Itunes chart in over 100 countries and garnered over 40 million views on YouTube (as of July 15)

The album opens with a narrated introduction to Pandora's box. Proceeding to tell the tale about “Pandora immediately fеlt her angst melt away/ her heart glow with warmth/It was hope that was kept in the innermost nook of the box/It trailed behind the miasma of darkness.”

The intro sets the tone for what’s to come, evident within the first half of the album exploring the character of J-Hope and who he is alongside Jung Hoseok. Demonstrated as we fire straight into 90’s hip hop “Pandora’s Box” (which also inspired his stage name.) Lyrics screaming “They call me Jung to the hope/Jack in the Box/Pandora's Soul/last Hope to be left/Jack in the box." He’s freed himself from the box he’s been placed in and is eager to grow further whilst breaking the mold once again, as seen with the pre-release single “More.”

“Equal sign” is a raw 90’s hip hop number complete with heavenly vocals and laden with a strong emotional message of discrimination, prejudice, and the importance of being kind to others. The chorus hits hard with

“Hate'll paralyze your mind/gotta see the other side/It costs ya nothing to be kind/Not so different you and I/Looking for love in a different light/Until we find that equal sign.”

We enter the second half of the album with “Music box: reflection” acting as an interlude gateway where the reflection continues. "What if" is another standout track, reflecting on the lyrics it translates as a letter from Jung Hoseok speaking to J-hope. Questioning his persona and all the what if’s in life, who is J-hope, and the outsiders' perceptions looking at his seemingly perfect life.

“Ask me questions dozens of times/Am I really like that?/Hope, positivity, always smiling face/I just thought it was something I could do/So my music, my speech, my feel/I made it myself/But, I have a question/Ask J-hope/'can you keep what you said?'/Maybe not on my own/I was born in countless circumstances/Aye! confidently shine your persona/Hold up//What if I have no hope/What if I have no dream/What if I have no passion?”

Closing the album with the lead track “Arson,” which could be 2018’s “Hansang” (Hopeworld,2018) evil twin with the same beats and flow. Hopeworld was conveyed as upbeat, and brightly paired with visually colorfully music videos, Jack In The Box has allowed the dark aesthetic to rise to the occasion and match what he wants to say. 

“Arson” was also accompanied by the new music video released today. The video saw nothing but fire and flames reflecting what this song is about. The powerful beat, visual, and message is evident in the lyrics “Let's burn, it's done /If anyone asks me (asks me)/Right, it was me who set the fire!/Now I ask myself just one/Do I extinguish that fire or burn it?”) alongside hope shining amongst the chaos “Records heating up/popularity at the top and up goes my born haters./Horns that ring every time. But even this, I like cause with my fans, with my label, with my fellaz. We burn bright together/Cause with my fans, with my label, with my fellas we burn brighter all day”.

Arson has acted as the full stop at the end of this open and honest story, how it was meant to be told from start to finish. His inner turmoil, yearning for more, conflict of character, passion, the industry, and not wanting to look greedy are summed up in 10 tracks. All highlight J-Hope’s anguish at the crossroads he faces, yet realize that both can co-exist side by side. Each song has flowed effortlessly into one another, the 90’s hip-hop beats and the silk vocals on tracks such as “Safety zone” and “Equal sign” have highlighted his talent as a vocalist. 

All this links nicely back round to BTS starting a new chapter and aiming to push themselves as individuals. J-Hope has planned every step of this musical journey from start to finish, resulting in an unapologetic, honest, raw album. In recent V-lives, he’s gone into great detail about the process and his nerves and excitement to show fans. 

Fans will love “Jack In The Box," and will no doubt spend hours deciphering and exploring the meanings of the lyrics. It was a sharp 180 from what was anticipated, and for me, it's a 5 out of 5. I don’t think enough words can capture just how well this album has been put together from the lyrics, visuals, composition, and concept. So get listening and see for yourself, J-hope has set chapter two ablaze, thought outside the box and the best is yet to come!

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Kirsty Bright

A UK freelance writer, who stumbled into the land of Kpop while studying Korean. Her bias groups are BTS and Seventeen, but she loves a range of groups and finding new artists to listen to! Contact on Insta: @kirstybright_ Portfolio: kirstybright.journoportfolio.com

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