To say 2022 was a massive year for BTS member J-Hope would be a massive understatement. The rapper and dancer not only released his first solo album Jack In The Box to critical and fan acclaim, but then went on to headline Lollapalooza (affectionately renamed “Hobipalooza” by fans), making history as the first South Korean artist to headline a major music festival in the United States. This monumental performance was just recently immortalized in a concert film/documentary film on Disney + titled J-hope In The Box.
With a trajectory like that, the idol has fans still hungry for more, so what’s next for the star? Well, much to fans’ sadness, and at some point expected dismay, J-hope announced this past week that he had begun the process to enter his mandatory South Korean military service, soon joining eldest BTS member Jin, who started his service in December. While the news is one of the biggest things K-pop fans dread hearing the most about their favorite idols, J-hope is making sure to leave fans with something new before he enlists. Teaming up with rapper J Cole, who J-hope has stated in the past he is a massive fan of, the two have dropped the single “on the street,” a bittersweet but hopeful track.
The track opens with what sounds like a cassette being inserted before jumping into a chill lo-fi beat led by whistling and steady drum beats. It’s a sonic landscape that instantly brings relaxed vibes while the two rappers deliver a message of inspiration and desire for the future. “Go on hopefully, wherever you walk / In these streets imbued with someone’s breath / I leave my soul and my eternity,” J-hope declares in the first verse. Both artists reflect on the ups and downs of their lives and more particularly, the moment when they are at a crossroads, trying to figure out where to go next. “As the moon jumps over the cow / I contemplate if I should wait to hand over the crown,” J Cole muses in his verse. He continues, “I got a strange type of hunger / The more I eat, the more it get stronger.” This line serves as an excellent thesis for what the message of this song is; while J-hope will have to step away for a bit, his desire to push himself further in his career and to conquer his dreams won’t go away.
“on the street” is a fantastic reflection on J-hope’s career, a career that has earned him adoring fans around the world and has taken him and his fellow group members to heights never seen before. While it will definitely be difficult, not just for fans, but I imagine for the rapper himself, to have to walk away temporarily, he leaves us with a beautiful track that inspires us not just to pursue our dreams, but more importantly, to never lose hope.