BTS' J-Hope Reveals 'Pressure' of Solo Debut, Says RM Was First Person to Listen

·4 min read
J-Hope of BTS poses during the 64th Annual GRAMMY Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena on April 03, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
J-Hope of BTS poses during the 64th Annual GRAMMY Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena on April 03, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Kevin Mazur/Getty J-Hope

BTS' J-Hope is spreading his wings as a solo artist — but he still trusts his bandmates to be first in line to hear his new music.

The performer, 28, talked to Rolling Stone in an interview published the same day his debut solo album Jack in the Box was released, and revealed that the very first person to hear the new record was his bandmate RM.

His reaction? "He said, 'Wow, I didn't think you'd do music like this. I have a bit of brain freeze. And it's so you. The fact that you brought this music at this time… I really respect it, and I love that it's so you,'" J-Hope recalled. "He gave me that feedback."

Next up was Jung Kook, who was apparently so inspired by the album that he felt ready to make music of his own.

"It was really funny. After hearing the album, he suddenly went to his studio," he said. "I think he felt the motivation to start. I love that one of our greatest motivators is one another."

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The three artists have been in BTS — along with Suga, Jimin, V and Jin — since 2013, and together, have become one of the most popular groups in the world.

For J-Hope, who will become the first South Korean artist to headline a main stage at a major American music festival when he performs at Lollapalooza later this month, being the first member of the group to put out a solo album brought equal parts nervousness and excitement.

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"Since I'm the first one to go solo, I feel a sense of responsibility and there's definitely some pressure as well," he said. "Jack in the Box is filled only with things I personally wanted to do, almost to the point where I worry to myself, 'Did I focus too much on solely what I wanted to do?' I think that's where the half nervousness comes from."

He added: "This album is really meaningful to me, and mostly, I feel proud and excited it's coming out."

The singer previously released the mixtape Hope World in 2018, but realized he wanted "more dancing" in his music. With that in mind, he released the single "Chicken Noodle Soup" in 2019.

While he's the first to go totally solo, it wasn't intentional.

"Rather than thinking of an order of who would release first, while promoting as BTS, I kept asking myself the question, 'What type of music can I do as BTS' J-Hope?'" he said. "I think timing-wise, I ended up becoming the first because I was constantly preparing. I didn't approach the project with wanting to be first in mind."

He said he felt moved to show some of his "darker" aspects on Jack in the Box, and is eagerly awaiting fans' reactions.

"I'm very curious how people will react. But what I really want to say is that the album is filled with my soul and my sincerity," he said. "In that way, it's a unique album, and the album is very meaningful because, in terms of musicality, it's going to act as a stepping stone for J-Hope to go forward."

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 10: South Korean boy band BTS backstage during the 61st Annual GRAMMY Awards at Staples Center on February 10, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by John Shearer/Getty Images for The Recording Academy)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 10: South Korean boy band BTS backstage during the 61st Annual GRAMMY Awards at Staples Center on February 10, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by John Shearer/Getty Images for The Recording Academy)

John Shearer/Getty for The Recording Academy BTS

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BTS made headlines last month when they appeared to announce a temporary hiatus, though the group quickly clarified that they're embarking on a "new chapter" in which they'll release both group and solo projects.

"The group will remain active as a team while taking individual journey to further achieve personal growth," according to a statement from HYBE, the agency that represents BTS. The statement added that the members of the two-time Grammy-nominated group "will allow themselves to express their individuality through the release of solo albums and collaborations with other artists."

HYBE's parent company BIGHIT MUSIC added, "BTS now starts a new chapter with new solo projects as well as group projects. Members will take this time to achieve personal growth through various new activities, and we expect it to further strengthen the foundation for the group's long-run as a team. BIGHIT MUSIC will actively support the artists."

BTS released a compilation album in June titled Proof, a 35-track release that includes some of the band's hits, unreleased songs, demos, and more.