Being part of the biggest boyband to currently exist, J-hope is a name that many know and love. His second album ‘Jack In The Box’ introduces a darker side of the artist. Through a blend of grunge, hip-hop and pop, J-hope provides an insight into his inner monologue. From just listening to second track ‘Pandora’s Box’, J-hope is informing a listener that his previous connotations are no longer valid. This is not BTS’ J-hope, instead through using a low register and experimenting with heavy sounds we are introduced to the multi-faceted Jeong Hoseok.
Being the first single we were introduced to from ‘Jack In The Box’, ‘MORE’ boasts a heavy rock influence, with J-hope’s shouts haunting an almost melancholy chorus. The narrative of J-hope’s work and his reflections on his career is prevalent, a recurring theme within the album. With ‘STOP’ a hip-hop element is continued. A repetitive drum and bass beat carries J-hope’s expressive rap as it hops through each bar. ‘STOP’ feels slightly lighter than the rest of the album, yet still exudes the reflective monologue that guides the project.
Despite an extremely darkened start to ‘Jack In The Box’, glimpses of the radiancy often associated with J-hope start peeking out. A surprising piano riff introduces the sentimental ‘Safety Zone’. What could be considered the ballad of the album, J-hope still sticks to his colourful rap style as a heavenly backing adds a sense of radiacy that has been hidden throughout the rest of the album. Swiftly moving into ‘= (Equal Sign)’, as a glistening synth alleviates the grunginess. Reminiscent of ‘Hope World’ (J-hope’s first solo album) we are reminded of the cartoonish visuals of tracks such as ‘Daydream’ and drawn back into the soothing singing voice of the rapper.
‘Arson’ is an explosive finale. A jarring sound transfixed with elements of old school hip-hop, J-hope dissects the relationship between his work, personal life and his passions. ‘Arson’ rounds off the album, completing an exploration into the persona of J-hope. As a project ‘Jack In The Box’ feels personal. It is refreshing to see J-hope experiment with genres not normally associated with his artistry, resulting in a second album that completely juxtaposes his previous sound.
Words: Abbie Aitken