J-Hope BTS lollapalooza

Rapper BTS has arrived as a true solo performer in the history-making title line

J-Hope is no stranger to making history. It’s something he’s done multiple times as part of BTS – breaking YouTube records on more than one occasion, being the first Korean act to reach number one on the Billboard Hot 100, and many other awards to list here. But tonight (July 31), the rapper, dancer, and producer is stepping into the spotlight on his own to become the first South Korean artist to hit a major stage at a major festival in the United States.

J-Hope’s massive ensemble headlines on the Bud Light Seltzer stage on the final day of Lollapalooza 2022, looking like a triumphant comeback and prologue. His main performance is the BTS member’s first direct solo attempt since they embarked on the group’s “Second Chapter” in June. One that would focus more on individual projects. If chapter two is an opportunity for the seven members to establish themselves as individual artists as well as part of the world’s largest group, then tonight’s J-Hope rises to the challenge.

Initiating this next step by stepping out of a group made to look like Jack in the Box feels symbolic – as if he’s jumping into new, unknown territory but doing so with confidence and explosion, rather than shyly out into the wider world. Fireworks fly off the stage as he stands and reviews the massive crowd assembled in front of him for a moment, before he blasts off his latest rock and rap single “MORE” and begins proving that he belongs on such a massive platform, no matter what he’s achieved with his main group so far.

Just as his debut solo album “Jack In The Box” tells the story of his creator, so does his group tonight. The first half deals largely with newer materials and their darker, more intense patterns, but it also deals with older tracks that fit into the narrative of ambition, greed, and fame. “HANGSANG” and its star-focused lyrics air before “POP (Peace Of Piece)” showcases the star’s desire to become an artist who can deliver exactly what the title suggests.

J-Hope Credit: Josh Brasted/FilmMagic

As J-Hope delves more into the performance, the story also moves on. Bright and lightly funky, the ‘= (Equal Sign) shares a love letter that sounds even more beautiful with a crowd singing it in unison. After an ‘arson attack’ – which began with a single flame on Jack’s head in a box on stage – the rapper returns to the insides of a giant toy box, only to explode again minutes later in a new white outfit.

The following are the brightest songs from his catalog, which begin with a tropical remix of BTS ‘Dynamite’ before moving on to ‘Daydream’, where before his dreams won’t last forever. Each is enhanced by the addition of a live band that makes the first part of the performance hit harder and heavier, and adds more liveliness to the last part.

All the while, J-Hope never forgets where he came from and goes back to his roots often. During “Base Line,” screens lining a stage display images of Korea’s landmarks and streets, including the Sajik Park Observatory in his hometown of Gwangju. When BTS performs ‘Cypher Pt. 1’, showing clips of him with his six bandmates. His music’s roots aren’t forgotten either – when he airs “Chicken Noodle Soup” with special guest Becky J at the end of the set, he’s sure to shout out DJ Webster and Young Pee, the authors of the original song. On the road.

No matter if the rapper is in a dark or light area tonight, he puts everything he has into every song. “I pour my heart and soul into my music,” he told the audience early on, but that’s something that sounds like he’s saying the obvious when you watch him perform. When J-Hope sets out to introduce a slow-burning “safety zone”, he seems completely lost in the music, and every move he makes is intertwined with the music, the emotion and energy inherent in it. His repertoire also showcases his brilliant versatility – from star rappers screaming streaks in “What If…” and “MORE”, masterful dancer on “Dynamite” and dazzling performances with an infectious spirit in “Outro: Ego” and “Hope” ” Globalism’.

In just over an hour that J-Hope lit the stage, he spoke briefly to the audience, welcomed ARMYs and non-fans alike and shared his thoughts throughout (“What the fuck is that…I feel like I’m going to” said after the active “World of Hope”). He says goodbye, takes a moment to speak Korean, and discusses his musings on his album and the honor of starring at Lollapalooza.

J-Hope
J-Hope Credit: Michael Hickey / Getty Images

“For me who was able to get through this moment,” he begins at one point, noting the insecurities he felt along the way, “I’m a bit shy but I want to tell myself I’m really proud of you.” As the lively opening notes of the final track “Future” begin to dazzle the rapper for the last time, it’s a feeling you can’t help but agree with. In Lollapalooza, J-Hope makes history again but more than that, he proves exactly what he can do with or without anyone by his side – true greatness.

J-Hope play:

‘more’
“Pandora’s Box”
‘border’
Cypher Bit. 1 ‘
“hanging”
“piece of peace”
‘= (equal sign)’
‘Stop’
“blue side”
‘safe zone’
‘What if…’
‘arson attack’
“Dynamite (tropical remix)”
‘Daydream’
“other: ego”
world of hope
“Trivia: Just Dance”
Chicken Vermicelli Soup
‘future’

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