J-Hope: BTS star Jung Ho-seok's age, debut, songs, ‘dark side’ and the lesser-known truth about his life
One of the most popular hip-hop artists of our generation, J-Hope is an acclaimed singer and dancer, involved in the creation process of every album in BTS' discography
What has become of hip-hop? Several music pundits often state that the original elements of hip-hop have been removed by those who took music for granted, but some bands are still trying to make sure that the hip-hop genre lives on forever. One of those hip-hop bands is K-pop’s BTS and its rapper and dancer J-hope who has proved that when it comes to creating music for the generation-X, he will not leave any stone unturned.
The Bangtan Boys, commonly known as BTS, is undoubtedly one of the world’s most famous boy bands. The K-pop boy band has won several accolades for their albums and live performances. The supergroup first began formation in 2010 and debuted in 2013 under Big Hit Entertainment with the seven leading boys – RM, Jin, Suga, J-hope, Jimin, V and Jungkook. Having sold over 20 million albums on the Gaon Music Charts, BTS is the best-selling artist group in South Korean history and holds the title of the best-selling album in South Korea with its ‘Map of the Soul: 7’.
BTS fans, commonly known as Army, are famous for celebrating every occasion concerning the seven members. As BTS fans celebrate J-hope’s 27th birthday on February 18 by trending #HappyHobiDay, let’s dive into his personal and professional life.
From Jung Ho-Seok to J-Hope
J-hope, whose real name is Jung Ho-seok, was born on February 18, 1994, in Buk District, Gwangju, South Korea. Before joining BTS, he was a part of the underground dance team Neuron and even took dance classes at Gwangju Music Academy for six years. In the dance videos from Neuron, one can see J-hope showing his real affinity for physical fluidity.
During a documentary ‘Bring the Soul: The Movie’, he recalled that when BTS members were creating stage names for themselves, he said that he wanted to have “Ho” in his name. At first, his name was just J-ho, and after a lot of brainstorming, the team came up with J-hope. He told Time that “it would be hugely meaningful for me if I can become, like my namesake, hope for someone in the world – not even some grandiose peace, but just a small shard of it.”
J-hope in BTS
J-hope, 26, made his debut as a BTS member on Mnet’s 'M! Countdown' with the track ‘No More Dream’ from the debut album ‘2 Cool 4 Skool’. Since then, J-hope has been involved in the creation process of every album in BTS’ discography.
J-Hope's rapping skillset
J-hope is an acclaimed singer and dancer but was never known for his rapping abilities before joining the K-pop boy band. In fact, it was revealed by him that he was not a rapper at all. He stated that he learned rapping by taking lessons and interacting with other rappers, who helped him understand this new form of music.
J-hope said: “Rather than saying I was forced to learn rap… I naturally absorbed it in my daily life. I would return to the dorms to some freestyle rap happening… in the beginning, I would wonder incredulously, ‘How are they able to do that?’ but I could feel that this was what defined rap. It was so interesting watching them fool around, dissing each other through rap, talking to each other through rap.”
How did J-hope write ‘Hope World’?
In 2018, when ‘Hope World’ was released, J-hope became the third member of the group to put out an individual mixtape, giving BTS army of global fans a taste of his own vision.
While talking about ‘Hope World’, J-hope stated that it took him around two years to develop his debut solo mixtape. In the interview, he also added that he got influenced by RM and SUGA and how they released their own mixtapes while giving their 100 percent to BTS projects. “The team always comes first, so I focused on our projects as BTS and tried to make time in the hotel room, on the airplane, and whenever I could find a few minutes”, J-hope told Time in 2018.
While talking about the song ‘Hope World’, J-hope stated that when he was a kid, he read ‘Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea’ by Jules Verne, which helped him write the first song from his debut album.
J-hope said: “I think I took myself back to that place for new inspiration and brought back a part of it as the motive to start writing Hope World. It’s an introduction to people who are brand new to [me] with me as Captain Nemo showing you around just as the submarine in the book cruised around the world’s oceans. I know this might sound really corny, but I invite you to pretend to be Professor Aronnax as you listen to this song and take a journey through my world.”
J-Hope’s Dark Side
J-hope also spoke about his take on ‘Blue Side’ from his debut album. He admitted to having issues and worries but remained optimistic. “I believe we all have shadows as humans. I am grateful that music can act as a mechanism to beautifully express those dark sides,” J-hope said.
J-Hope’s philanthropic activities
In 2018, J-hope donated $133,000 to a Child Fund Korea to support those attending his high school alma mater in Gwangju. A year later, he donated $89,000 to the same organization. After it was revealed that the children were experiencing economic difficulties amid the Covid-19 pandemic, J-hope came forward and again donated a handsome amount to support the children from his school.
Even his BTS Army has followed his steps. One of his fan clubs from China has started a ‘Jung Hoseok Hope Hospital’ in Anhui Province in China. As per some previous reports, “Donation and will be used to build and renovate Hyangjin Sanitation Center, install additional medical equipment, and train staff. Jung Hoseok Hope Hospital will help interior village residents and low-income families who don’t have easy access to medical facilities.”
Who are J-Hope's role models?
J-hope stated in an earlier interview that American rappers A$AP Rocky and J.Cole are his role models. "Talking about my role models isn’t going to be an easy task. Frankly, I have known them since the moment I was born, but that is what makes this so arduous of a task. How does one begin to talk about the people who have molded them and shaped them from birth into the human they are now? So I guess you probably figured out now that the people I am referring to are my parents,” said J-hope.
“My parents have not lived easy lives. My Dad was in the Army Reserves for 20 years before retiring years ago. This made raising three children extremely difficult for my mom: the constant moving, finding new schools, let alone the daily chaos that is taking care of three. But somehow, when I ask them about all of it, they admit it was hard, but always manage to make some joke about it. ‘I used to put Hello My Name Is… nametags on all of you when he would get home,’ my mom laughs."