The gang roars as J-Hope, along with his rugged darkish garments and wavy mullet-styled hair falling in his face, springs up onto Chicago’s Lollapalooza stage on July 31. With a targeted gaze, he seems to be out into the ocean of lightsticks and anticipatory faces ready for him with cheers. Everybody current is right here to witness historical past, whether or not Military or in any other case, as J-Hope turns into the first Korean artist to headline a major American music festival. After a dramatic introductory observe, he shifts into “Extra,” rapping the lyrics intensely, as if he have been within the studio for the primary time.
Simply seconds earlier than his grand entrance, pink letters had flashed on a display screen behind the platform studying, “Hope gave individuals the need to hold on residing amidst the ache and strife.” The message sums up what J-Hope and his band, BTS, imply for lots of people. For an hour, time appeared to freeze and a rush of pure adrenaline stuffed the air.
On Saturday, the day earlier than his debut on the music competition, I sat subsequent to J-Hope on a sofa in his trailer. The star greeted me with a heat hug and a candy smile, his aura vivid and bubbly. Talking with him felt like speaking to a good friend or neighbor; I forgot, for a second, that he’s one of many greatest artists on this planet, selling the most tickets in Lollapalooza’s decades-long history. Assisted by a translator, he confidently mentioned his debut album Jack within the Field, which he launched in July.
“I feel it is rather essential that I’m doing the music that I wish to do proper now. I really feel like I ought to have accomplished this at one level in my life as an artist,” he stated. “Now that I give it some thought, it was a really courageous, brave selection. However since it’s my selection, I don’t remorse something whatever the outcomes, whatever the penalties.”
He’s cognizant of the reception to his work. “There are loads of reactions on YouTube, and many individuals have been shocked and shocked. So, these reactions have been actually enjoyable. And as befitting the album, Jack within the Field, I used to be sort of coming out, like individuals weren’t anticipating it from J-Hope.” Certainly, his 2018 mixtape, Hope World, has the precise reverse vibe. It’s a vivid, motivational mission with a number of pop-forward songs and an aesthetic that matches the rapper’s naturally pleasant charms. It could have been simple to proceed with this method for his first full-length album, but J-Hope’s flip to the darkish facet creates a compelling anomaly that displays his inventive journey. His imaginative and prescient is dropped at life on stage the subsequent day.
The present begins off ferociously, particularly with songs like “Baseline,” “Cypher Pt.1,” and “Hangsang.” In the course of the latter, he strikes between mouthing Supreme Boi’s verses to easily tapping his foot to the beat whereas holding his hand within the air, letting the group sing for him. There’s a palpable, unstated connection between him, the music, and the ocean of individuals under. It’s hypnotizing to look at. He sings his coronary heart out on tracks like “P.O.P,” “Equal Signal,” and “Blue Aspect,” then takes extra time for his rock-raps with a slew of tracks like “What If…” and “Arson.”
Simply as the group has adjusted to the edgy tone, J-Hope transitions to his brighter self halfway via the present, buying and selling his grungy getup for a recent white ensemble, blue gloves, and neon-green sun shades. I’m reminded of one thing he stated throughout our dialog: “I’m an artist that didn’t begin out creating music. I really acquired near music via dancing first.” You may inform he’s in his factor when the pace of the choreography kicks up throughout fan favorites “Daydream” and “Ego.” He’s disciplined, a pure entertainer, and even when he will get drained, he doesn’t lose momentum. “Play that shit!” he yells in true rock-star trend.
I’m an artist that didn’t begin out creating music. I really acquired near music via dancing first.
The efficiency appears easy, however J-Hope admitted throughout our interview, “That is really a really large problem for me. As an artist, I feel this can be a needed leap that I’ve to take with the intention to transfer ahead.” He anticipated the second simply as a lot because the followers. “Nervous? In fact I am nervous,” he stated with fun. “I feel this nervousness can also be a enjoyable issue.”
Everybody watching is entertained, together with fellow artists. J-Hope touched on his shut relationship with the opposite members of BTS. “I be taught quite a bit from them. They’re an ideal supply of inspiration, and I feel a giant a part of my journey going ahead are my members,” he stated. “Truly, Jimin got here all the best way to Chicago to help me, so I’m getting loads of power from him, as properly.” In the course of the present, Jimin waits backstage, laughing and hyping J-Hope up simply as a lot as the group. There’s a real bond between them, giving J-Hope the boldness to step into this new profession milestone.
He makes positive to pay homage to his roots, performing his personal model of BTS’s hit “Dynamite (Tropical Remix),” along with solo tracks from BTS albums, just like the up-tempo “Outro: Ego.” In a single second, he hits a formidable solo moonwalk throughout “Trivia: Simply Dance” that sparks the viewers’s reward. The famous person in him is simple.
Onstage, he declares in English, “I put my coronary heart and soul into my music. Though we communicate completely different languages, I hope you hear my story.” Later within the present, the American singer Becky G joins him for a shock efficiency of the second-to-last track, “Chicken Noodle Soup,” which that they had by no means earlier than performed reside collectively. The track options Korean, English, and Spanish lyrics, a wonderful mixture of cultures that rings true to J-Hope’s total message of inclusivity.
The present closes with “Future,” and although J-Hope has spoken in English for almost all of the present, he takes time to share his ideas in his native Korean. He humbly shouts out the band and his dancers, and when he leaves, the followers are nonetheless passionately chanting his identify. The phrase “Extra” is fittingly displayed on numerous surrounding screens; regardless that many followers had waited exterior because the night time earlier than, they’d in all probability do it once more. He began the set at 8:50 p.m., giving us 10 additional minutes of enjoyable, but the 18-song set flew by. Corresponding to a ceremony of passage, J-Hope’s debut efficiently established him as an artist who can maintain his personal, and who arguably delivered among the best performances to ever grace the Lollapalooza stage.