[Album Review] Jack In The Box (1st Studio Album) – j-hope (BTS)

j-hope is nominated for Best Male Soloist, Best Rap Performance (for Arson), Best Rap or Hip-Hop Song (for MORE) and other categories in the 2022 KPOPREVIEWED Awards. BTS is also nominated for Best Stage Prescence and Best Special Performance. Support j-hope and BTS, along with your other favourite artists, songs and performances by clicking here to vote today.

Another long overdue album review is finally here. Cast your mind back to earlier this year when BTS confirmed that they would be focusing on solo ventures in the foreseeable future. Soon after, j-hope was confirmed to be the first member to release new solo music following the announcement. Come June, j-hope released his first studio-length album, Jack In The Box, featuring the title track Arson, the pre-release single MORE, and 8 other singles. I was a bit hesitant about reviewing this album, as I am not a big fan of rap or hip-hop music, which is what j-hope has released in the past. But after deciding to just do it, Jack In The Box proved to be much more than rap or hip-hop music. Continue reading to see what else j-hope had to offer in Jack In The Box.

Jack In The Box Album Cover

1. Intro – The intro to the album isn’t an instrumental piece like most other introductory tracks. Instead, for Jack In The Box, the intro was a segment of the narration of the mythical story of Pandora’s Box. The narration zones into the part of the story, where after releasing all the darkness and evil from the box, Pandora discovered hope. Soon after, the narration cuts out.

2. Pandora’s Box – While on topic, Pandora’s Box is the next track on the album. And it is a hip-hop track that goes in hard. There is a fair bit of angst behind j-hope’s delivery in the verses, which equates to a very passionate and intense track about his life as an idol. The chanting chorus was definitely the peak of the track, and leaves a deep impression on you in the final moments. (8/10)

3. MORE (Pre-Release Track)Click here to read the full review for MORE. (8.5/10)

4. Stop (세상에 나쁜 사람은 없다) Stop follows on neatly from MORE, continuing that urban-like feel that was present in MORE. When I listen to this track, I can imagine a music video of j-hope rapping whilst walking down the street. The track explores the topic of human nature, and I liked how he included audio of an arrest going on in the background. Going back to that idea of a music video, it sounds like he could walk past the situation and observe it play out in the music video. Other than that, Stop is a lot more laidback and finishes up quicker than you expect. (8/10)

5. = (Equal Sign)Equal Sign flaunts both vocals and rapping over a hip-hop instrumental that I found to be quite refreshing and easy on the ears. I also like the funky undertones Equal Sign had, thanks to that bass. I really enjoyed how smooth yet deep j-hope’s vocals, which contrasted really nicely to the rapping in the first half of the song. The way he sung reminded me of the chorus of Where is The Love, an equally (pun unintended) hopefully track. (10/10)

6. Music Box: Reflection – Heavy breathing, which I presume is j-hope was catching his breath, is played alongside the music box tune and some scratchy and dark synths. The music box tune and synths are two clashing opposites, but they come together to really create what felt like a deep interlude for the album.

7. What If … – I really liked how the piano/keyboard starts off striking (which is a sample from Shimmy Shimmy Ya by Ol’ Dirty Bastard) and is slowly incorporated into the background of the grungy hip-hop beat. It was quite a smooth incorporation. Given the grungy hip-hop, What If… brings back rapper j-hope, who goes down low and brings us a raspy tone to the mix. (8/10)

8. Safety Zone – j-hope brings soulful R&B to the album through with Safety Zone. And it makes sense, as the lyrics expresses j-hope’s desire for a ‘safe zone’ where he can clear headed and step away from his stressful life. I really liked the ‘Ooo’ in the background and the soulful vocals that come through at the end of the song. It makes Safety Zone a lot more emotive and yearning. His rapping was slow and paced in this song, which helped him expressed his confusion over where his ‘safe zone’ is. Overall, a well put together track that made me feel for j-hope. (10/10)

9. FutureFuture was quite a change up in terms of sound, when you compare it to the rest of this songs on it. Future is a lot more upbeat, cheerful, playful and vibrant. And this works really well with the song’s more hopeful lyrics. I also like how j-hope sounds like he has a smile on his face whilst recording the song. There is a bit of a child’s choir in the background, which was a nice touch to the song. (8/10)

10. Arson (방화)Click here to read the full review for Arson. (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.6/10

Jack In The Box Teaser Image

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