meta-scriptBreaking Down Every Solo Act From BTS: Singles, Debut Albums & What's Next For The Septet | GRAMMY.com
Breaking Down Every Solo Act from BTS -
BTS (from left): V, Suga, Jin, Jung Kook, RM, Jimin and J-Hope at the 2022 GRAMMYs.

PHOTO: AXELLE/BAUER-GRIFFIN/FILMMAGIC

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Breaking Down Every Solo Act From BTS: Singles, Debut Albums & What's Next For The Septet

As RM releases his latest solo project, 'Right Place, Wrong Person' and the BTS members continue their mandatory military service, take a deep dive into the solo careers of Jin, Suga, j-hope, RM, Jimin, V and Jung Kook.

GRAMMYs/May 10, 2023 - 02:14 pm

Editor’s Note: This article was updated on May 14, 2024 to reflect all of BTS' solo work from the original publish date through RM's Right Place, Wrong Person album release.

No one can deny that South Korean boy group BTS is a phenomenon. Since their debut in 2013, the septet formed by Jin, Suga, j-hope, RM, Jimin, V and Jung Kook broke barriers and prejudices against Asian artists, reached notable milestones, and brought together one of the world's most devoted fandom, known as ARMY.

Their relatable lyrics talk about societal issues and the pressures of growing up. Their intricate storytelling blends art classics, pop culture, and Korean heritage into something entirely new. BTS also offer a wide-range of musical genres — from hip hop disses like "Mic Drop," to heartfelt ballads like "Spring Day," to feel-good bubblegum pop like "Butter," there's something for every music lover out there. Regardless of any opinions, it's impossible not to be in awe of their oeuvre.

Taking all of that into consideration, it's not surprising that they broke numerous records throughout their career — like becoming the first non-English-speaking, Asian artists to sell out Wembley Stadium and the Rose Bowl in 2019. BTS also won a slew of trophies at South Korean and American award shows, including five GRAMMY nominations. For all of their contributions to South Korea's culture, they also became the youngest recipients of the country's Order of Cultural Merit in 2018.

BTS is, in some ways, a symbol of something bigger than themselves. An entity capable of uniting people all over the world and transmitting much-needed messages in their music. However, that wouldn't be possible if the seven humans behind it weren't as interesting as the whole. Since the beginning, BTS always encouraged its members to develop their own artistry, and all of them have released several solos that spotlight their unique talents.

While 2022 brought in the news that BTS would take a break from group activities as they enlisted in the South Korean mandatory military service, that meant their solo careers would take on the spotlight, launching a new era for the group. From Jin's "The Astronaut" to j-hope's Hope on the Street Vol. 1, GRAMMY.com breaks down all of BTS' solo releases so far.

Jin

Jin isn't just "Mr. Worldwide Handsome," as he became known for his good looks. The eldest member of BTS is also a competent vocalist, whose soothing voice gave life to three solo songs under the group's roster: 2016's "Awake," 2018's "Epiphany" and 2020's "Moon."

The Anyang-born singer also contributed to the band's SoundCloud with the co-written and co-composed tracks "Tonight" and "Abyss," revealing his sensitive mind. The former, released in 2019, was inspired by the deaths of Jin's dog and two sugar glider pets; 2020's "Abyss" dealt with his fears and anxieties. "My voice doesn't come out, I just circle around/ That dark place that I wanted to be locked in, I want to go there," he sings.

In 2021, Jin was chosen to sing "Yours," the main theme of TvN's drama "Jirisan." However, the real highlight of that year was "Super Tuna," a short song made for kicks and giggles that went viral on YouTube and TikTok.

As the eldest of the group, Jin was also the first to enlist in the military in December of 2022. Shortly before that, he graced fans with his official solo debut single, October's "The Astronaut." Co-written alongside Coldplay, the inspirational track and its soft rock sheen foreshadowed Jin's potential as a soloist. 

Though Jin hasn't released any solo work since, his upcoming discharge in June has ARMY's hopes high for more music from him this year.

Suga

One of BTS' main songwriters, producers, and rappers, Suga is a prolific artist with a keen view about the world that we live in. Born in the city of Daegu, he began as an underground rapper and initially joined Big Hit Entertainment as a producer. Eventually, Suga became a trainee along with the other members.

Since BTS' debut in 2013, he has contributed as a songwriter to the majority of their material, as well as producing and featuring in tracks by other artists such as Halsey's "Suga's Interlude," PSY's "That That," and IU's "Eight." He released five solo tracks as part of the group's discography: 2015's "Intro: The Most Beautiful Moment in Life" and "Intro: Never Mind," 2016's "First Love," 2018's "Trivia: Seesaw," and 2019's "Interlude: Shadow." Each one revealed his talent as a poignant storyteller on the ups and downs of growing up, dealing with fame, and remaining hopeful amid storms.

Concomitantly, he formulated the alter ego Agust D and released two solo mixtapes, 2016's Agust D and 2020's D-2. His first studio album under the alias, April's D-Day, concluded the explosive trilogy that dealt with themes like anger, vengeance, and pain. 

After becoming the first BTS member to headline his own tour in the U.S. and Asia in 2023, Suga enlisted in the military in September. But for those already missing him, D-Day: The Movie is coming to theaters and IMAX worldwide on April 10 and 13.

j-hope

Rapper j-hope was born in the metropolis of Gwangju, where he became known for his dancing skills. His interest in rapping, though, only came once he moved to Seoul and became a trainee under Big Hit Entertainment, where felt inspired by teammates Suga, RM and producer Supreme Boi.

J-hope gradually developed his skills and became one of BTS' main songwriters, releasing three solo songs: 2016's "Intro: Boy Meets Evil" and "Mama" and 2018's "Trivia 起: Just Dance." Also in 2018, j-hope released his buoyant solo debut mixtape, Hope World. The album peaked at No. 38 on Billboard's 200 chart, turning him into the highest charting Korean soloist at the time. In 2019, he collaborated with Becky G on the hip hop track "Chicken Noodle Soup."

Following the announcement that BTS would be taking a break from group activities in 2022, j-hope was the first member to begin solo promotions. Jack in the Box, his first solo album, arrived on July 15, 2022, and just 16 days later, he became the first South Korean artist to headline Lollapalooza.

Currently serving military duty, j-hope left fans a few gifts while they wait for his discharge in October. First came the 2023 special single "on the street," featuring rapper J. Cole, and now the special album Hope on the Street Vol.1 on March 29. The album features collaborations with the likes of Jungkook, Nile Rodgers, and Benny Blanco, and is accompanied by a Prime Video docuseries, Hope on the Street.

RM

RM has often been the group's main spokesperson and producer. Through his work, he earned a stellar reputation both inside and outside of South Korea, collaborating with artists such as Fall Out Boy, Lil Nas X, Younha, Tiger JK, and Erykah Badu.

Born in Seoul, RM was a trainee under Big Hit Entertainment for three years before debuting, where he honed his songwriting skills in pre-debut tracks and cuts for other K-pop groups. As part of BTS, the gifted singer and rapper released a few solos: 2013's "Intro: O!RUL8,2?," 2014's "Intro: What Am I to You?," 2016's "Reflection," and 2019's "Trivia: Love" and "Persona." 

He was also the first member of the group to release a solo mixtape, 2015's RM, which showcased his distinct flow and honest self-reflections about rage and the contradictions of fame. In 2018 came his introspective, minimalistic second mixtape, Mono. Although just as honest about his emotions as the first one, Mono showcased a more pensive, or rather matured, side of RM. 

In December 2022, RM unveiled his much-awaited debut studio album, Indigo. Described as "the last archive of my 20s," RM continued his thoughtful reflections on what it means to make art and to be human. 

Shortly after the release, he traveled to Spain to find inspiration for his yet-to-be-announced second album, as he told EFE in March 2023. Due to his enlistment, RM also revealed that he would "not be taking on any projects in the near future," which explains why he remained mostly quiet in 2023. Before departing to the military in December, though, he featured on the So!yoON! track "Smoke Sprite" and on Colde's "Don't Ever Say Love Me."

In May 2024, RM returned with a new album, Right Place, Wrong Person. Across 11 tracks, RM aimed to tell the nigh-universal story of a creature of habit who comes to find satisfaction exploring foreign places. Right Place, Wrong Person is an evolution not only of RM's inimitable artistry, but a signal that he's truly a musical chameleon.

Jimin

Jimin always made an impression through his elegant dance moves and distinct falsettos, giving an aesthetic flair to all of BTS' releases. The Busan-born artist also showcased more of his talents through three solo tracks with the group: 2016's "Lie," 2017's "Serendipity" and 2020's "Filter."

In 2018, he released his first credited solo song, "Promise," followed by "Christmas Love" in 2020. That same year, Jimin collaborated with close friend and singer Ha Sung-woon on "With You" (the soundtrack to TvN's 2022 drama "Our Blues"), and in January 2023, he co-wrote and featured on Big Bang member Taeyang's single, "Vibe."

In March 2023, Jimin released his long-awaited debut EP, Face, and its lead single, the synth-pop tune "Like Crazy," topped the Billboard Hot 100 — becoming the first BTS member to score a Hot 100 No. 1 on their own, and the first South Korean solo act to lead the chart. After that feat, he featured on Kodak Black and NLE Choppa's "Angel Pt. 1" (alongside JVKE and Muni Long), as part of the soundtrack for the film Fast X, and released the documentary Jimin's Production Diary on HYBE's digital platform, Weverse.

Alongside Jung Kook, Jimin's enlistment began on Dec. 12. As a special send-off, he dropped the sweet song "Closer Than This" and dedicated it to ARMY.

V

V's husky baritone voice is one of BTS' most prominent elements, giving depth and texture to their songs. Like Suga, he was born in Daegu and dreamed of becoming a singer. After debuting with BTS, he released three solos under their name: 2016's "Stigma," 2018's "Singularity" and 2020's "Inner Child."

On the group's SoundCloud, he has slowly developed his own tracks. In 2019, he issued the self-composed ballad "Scenery," and later the all-English "Winter Bear." He also contributed to a few Korean dramas' soundtracks along the years, most notably 2020's "Sweet Night," off JTBC's Itaewon Class, and 2021's "Christmas Tree," off Studio N's Our Beloved Summer.

Although it was rumored that V would release an official mixtape in 2022, he came through with a full solo album instead. Last September's Layover brims with V's unique taste for jazz and lo-fi music, and posits him as a cool and confident soloist. 

Barely three months later, V began his military enlistment — but that doesn't mean he'll stop the music until his return. In March, he dropped the special English single "FRI(END)S," continuing to craft his sophisticated, vintage sound.

Jung Kook

At 26 years old, Jung Kook is the youngest member of BTS. Like Jimin, he was born in the coastal city of Busan, but moved to Seoul as a teenager to pursue his dreams of becoming a singer. In "Begin," his first solo song released on BTS' 2016 album, Wings, he sings about how the group was largely his introduction to life: "When I was 15 years old, I had nothing/ The world was too big and I was small."

Later came 2018's "Euphoria" and 2020's "My Time," off BTS' Love Yourself: Answer and Map of the Soul: 7, respectively. Also in 2020, he released "Stay Alive," the main soundtrack to BTS-based webtoon 7Fates: Chakho. He also published occasional solo work via Twitter, including the fan-loved "Decalcomanie," or SoundCloud, where he released "My You" and "Still With You" — the platform's Most-Streamed Pop Song in 2022, despite being released in 2020.

In 2022 and 2023, Jung Kook explored international collaborations as a primer to his upcoming solo releases. He participated in Charlie Puth's pop hit "Left and Right," and released "Dreamers" for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, later performing it at the opening ceremony of the event.

As Western audiences warmed up to his charismatic presence, Jung Kook released his official solo debut single "Seven" in July 2023. Featuring rapper Latto and sung entirely in English, the track consolidated Jung Kook's departure from cutie pie into mischievous stud: "I'll be f—in' you right seven days a week," he sings in the explicit version of the song. 

In September, the singer dropped "3D" with Jack Harlow, and later announced that his debut studio album, Golden, would come out in November. Spearheaded by the marvelous disco-pop of "Standing Next to You," Golden features 10 charming tracks that place Jung Kook as a gilded star on his own. He also scored collaborations with Usher in a remix of "Standing Next to You," and with Justin Timberlake in a remix of "3D," further consolidating his global appeal. 

Just one month after the release, Jung Kook enrolled in the military, making him and Jimin the last BTS members to do so. They are expected to be discharged on June 11, 2025. 

Even as members of one of the biggest boy bands in the world, the BTS guys have undoubtedly proven to be compelling soloists as well. As the countdown for BTS' group return ticks on, their individual musical contributions keep the anticipation high — and ultimately prove that once they're back together, BTS will be stronger than ever.

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RM of BTS in 2023
RM attends W Korea‘s ‘Love Your W' breast cancer awareness event in Seoul, South Korea in November 2023.

Photo: The Chosunilbo JNS/Imazins via Getty Images

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Stream RM's New Album 'Right Place, Wrong Person': See The Tracklist, "LOST!" Video & Special Guests

The second solo album from BTS' RM further displays his knack for genre-bending experimentation, while also delving deeper into his vulnerable side. Listen to the new album here, and get to know the project's featured artists, tracklist and more.

GRAMMYs/May 24, 2024 - 04:08 pm

As the world patiently awaits the return of BTS in full force, each member continues to deliver solo projects to show off their individual talents. And 18 months after his last album, RM is back.

With a discography that hops between pop, R&B, and hip-hop, RM returns to the spotlight with his second solo album, Right Place, Wrong Person. The project tells the relatable story of an individual who is a creature of habit, but slowly comes to find solace in foreign spaces.

Below, listen to RM's latest album, and discover more about how he's revealing a new side of his artistry with Right Place, Wrong Person.

The Tracklist

After RM's debut solo album, 2022's Indigo, had 10 tracks (including features from the likes of Erykah Badu, Anderson .Paak), he ups the tally with an 11-song tracklist this time around.

Here is the complete tracklist for Right Place, Wrong Person:

1. Right People, Wrong Place
2. Nuts
3. out of love
4. Domodachi (feat. Little Simz)
5. ? (Interlude)
6. Groin
7. Heaven
8. LOST!
9. Around the world in a day (feat. Moses Sumney)
10. ㅠㅠ (Credit Roll)
11. Come back to me

The Creative Visuals

Two weeks before the album dropped, he unveiled the music video for "Come Back to Me," the lead single from Right Place, Wrong Person. Directed by the critically acclaimed actor Lee Sung Jin, the music video narrates the tale of feeling like an outsider and yearning for a sense of belonging in unfamiliar surroundings.

Then, on the day Right Place, Wrong Person arrived, RM added to release-day excitement with another intriguing visual, this time for "LOST!" The five-minute clip sees RM as the star of "The Lost! Show," where he and a group endure an eerie whirlwind of scenarios they can't seem to get out of. It's equal parts dramatic and slapstick, and another clever display of RM's creative versatility.

Noteworthy Guests

The featured artists on Right Place, Wrong Person — British rapper Little Simz on "Domodachi" and art-pop artist Moses Sumney on "Around the world in a day" — underscore RM's ability to interlace his own musical style with artists from various genres.

The album also has some notable behind-the-scenes collaborators as well. Production credits include Kim Han-joo, keyboardist and vocalist from the South Korean rock band Silica Gel, on "LOST!" and GRAMMY-nominated jazz duo DOMi & JD Beck on "? (Interlude)."

On "Come back to me" — which RM initially debuted last August during a surprise performance at BTS bandmate Suga's encore concert in Seoul — he delves into the album's central theme of wanting to venture into unknown areas, but feeling the intense urge to stay with what's already known. The track was composed and arranged by OHHYUK from the South Korean indie-rock band Hyukoh, but also features credits from artists Kuo, JNKYRD, and San Yawn.

But no matter who RM is working with, his own talent and prowess as a creator always shines. Right Place, Wrong Person presents a diverse array of tracks marked by sheer vulnerability, honesty, and sensitivity — a masterful continuation of a remarkable solo journey.

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Camila Cabello & Lil Nas X
Camila Cabello & Lil Nas X

Photo: Courtesy Camila Cabello & Lil Nas X

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New Music Friday: Listen to Songs From Megan Thee Stallion, Camila Cabello & Lil Nas X, BTS' RM & More

May 10 is quite the stacked day of new music across all genres — from Post Malone & Morgan Wallen's country collab, to Stray Kids' team-up with Charlie Puth, to The Chainsmokers and Kings of Leon. Check out some fresh releases to enjoy this weekend here.

GRAMMYs/May 10, 2024 - 06:55 pm

As the summer quickly approaches, artists from every genre continue to unveil new music for warmer weather. Friday May 10 is particularly packed with anticipated and surprise releases from both emerging talents and established names.

The new albums alone prove just that: pop songsmith Alec Benjamin's 12 Notes, folk-rock band Judah & the Lion's The Process, regional Mexican stars Grupo Frontera's Jugando a Que No Pasa Nada, and GRAMMY-winning R&B singer Andra Day's Cassandra, to name a few.

Meanwhile, a big, cool glass of major rap releases is here to help wash down the piping hot Kendrick and Drake beef served up over the last week. Full album releases debuted from Gunna, Chief Keef, and Ghostface Killah — the latter featuring guest spots from Nas, Kanye West, Raekwon, Method Man and more. Hottie Megan Thee Stallion's powerful new single, "BOA", sets the stage for her Hot Girl Summer tour which officially starts on May 14. New songs from Ice Spice, Kodak Black, NLE Choppa, Coi Leray, G-Eazy, Yung Gravy, Ski Mask the Slump God set the playlist for a weekend full of slappers.

There's tons of collaborations, too, including the much-teased pairing of Post Malone and Morgan Wallen with "I Had Some Help," a track that showcases Malone's furtherance into country in a catchy, reflective anthem. But country music lovers also have more to enjoy this weekend: Orville Peck's duets project, Stampede Vol.1, features the likes of Willie Nelson and Elton John," while Scotty McCreery's Rise & Fall and Avery Anna's single "Blonde" fill the fuel tank for a rodeo-ready summer. 

BTS's RM delivers another solo track "Come Back to Me" and Stray Kids dropped a new collaboration with Charlie Puth, coming fresh off the K-pop group's appearance at the Met Gala earlier this week. And the electronic and rock scenes are not left behind, with A.G. Cook exploring a new twist on Britpop and Sebastian Bach's release of Child Within The Man.

Dive into today's releases from Megan Thee Stallion, The Chainsmokers, RM, Stray Kids with Charlie Puth, Camila Cabello with Lil Nas X, Post Malone and Morgan Wallen below. 

Megan Thee Stallion, "BOA"

Megan Thee Stallion's new single "BOA" continues to play up the themes of empowerment and self-realization that define her current musical phase and comes just days ahead of her Hot Girl Summer Tour starting on May 14. The song's cover art features Megan with a striking snake, a recurring symbol of rebirth that has been significant in her recent work, appearing in tracks like the Billboard Hot 100 hit "Hiss" and the 2023 song "Cobra." 

"BOA" is a continuation of Megan's snake-themed narrative, but serves as a saccharine homage to her favorite late-'90s and early 2000s anime and video game classics. The music video features references to Scott Pilgrim, One Piece, Dance Dance Revolution, and iconic 3D fighting games like Mortal Kombat, complete with visuals and Gantz-inspired outfits.

Speaking to Women's Health about her upcoming summer album, Megan discussed the personal growth and renewal she has experienced, inspiring this new era of music. "I was inspired to create this album about rebirth because I feel I am becoming a new person physically and mentally," she shared.

Camila Cabello & Lil Nas X, "HE KNOWS"

Camila Cabello teams up with Lil Nas X for the tantalizing new song "He Knows," delivering a radio-friendly track that's as catchy as it is lustful. The new music mirrors the infectious energy of their recent appearance at FKA Twigs' Met Gala afterparty, where they both were seen dancing the night away behind the DJ booth. 

"He Knows" serves as a precursor to Cabello's highly anticipated fourth solo album, C,XOXO, — set to drop on June 28 — and teases a glimpse of Cabello's evolving artistic direction. The single follows on the heels of her recent hit "I LUV IT" featuring Playboi Carti, part of the  reimagining of her sound and artistic brand.

RM, "Come Back To Me"

BTS member RM has released a new single, "Come Back To Me," accompanied by a music video. The relaxed track gives fans a taste of his upcoming second solo album, Right Place, Wrong Person, set to release on May 24. 

In the song, RM explores themes of right and wrong, capturing the complex emotions of wanting to explore new avenues while wishing to stay comfortable in the present. "Come Back To Me" features contributions from OHHYUK of the South Korean band HYUKOH, and Kuo of the Taiwanese band Sunset Rollercoaster. Additional credits include JNKYRD and San Yawn from Balming Tiger. RM first performed "Come Back To Me" during a surprise appearance at BTS bandmate Suga's concert in Seoul last summer, noting it as a favorite from his forthcoming album. 

The music video for "Come Back To Me" was written, directed, and produced by Lee Sung Jin, known for his work on the Netflix show "Beef." The video features actress Kim Minha from the Apple TV+ series "Pachinko" and faces themes of identity and self-reflection, showing RM confronting different versions of himself. Its cast includes notable Korean and American actors such as Joseph Lee, Lee Sukhyeong, and Kim A Hyun.

Post Malone & Morgan Wallen, "I Had Some Help"

Post Malone and Morgan Wallen blend their distinct musical styles in the much-anticipated release of their collaborative single "I Had Some Help." Merging Malone's versatile pop sensibilities while leaning into his country roots with Wallen's, well, help, the duet is a unique crossover that has had fans clamoring to hear more since the two first teased the song earlier this year. 

Finally premiering during Wallen's headlining performance at Stagecoach Festival on April 28, the uptempo song explores themes of mutual support and shared experiences, encapsulated by the lyric, "It ain't like I can make this kind of mess all by myself."

The collaboration has sparked significant buzz and showcases the duo's chemistry and shared knack for storytelling. This single highlights their individual talents as well as their ability to bridge genre divides, already promising to be a hit on the charts and a favorite among fans.

The Chainsmokers, No Hard Feelings

Maestros of mainstream emotion, The Chainsmokers continue to master the art of turning personal reflections into global anthems with their latest EP, No Hard Feelings. The six-song project see Alex Pall and Drew Taggart exploring the emotional highs and lows of modern relationships, weaving their signature dance beats with pop sensibilities as they have since 2015's "Roses." 

The duo's latest release serves as a soundtrack to both sun-kissed days and introspective nights. The collection includes the single "Friday," a collaboration with Haitian-American singer Fridayy, described by the duo as a direct descendant of "Roses." Other tracks, such as "Addicted," also underscore the Chainsmokers' knack for capturing the zeitgeist of contemporary love and loss.

Kings of Leon, Can We Please Have Fun

Kings of Leon return with their signature blend of rock and introspection on their ninth studio album, Can We Please Have Fun. The LP finds the band infusing their established sound with fresh, unbridled energy, reminiscent of their early days yet matured by years of experience. The album features standout tracks like "Mustang" and "Nothing To Do," which mix playful lyrics with serious musical chops, showcasing Kings of Leon's unique ability to combine rock's raw power with catchy, thoughtful songwriting.

The band is set to bring Can We Please Have Fun to life on their 2024 world tour, starting in Leeds, United Kingdom on June 20 and wrapping in Bridgeport, Connecticut, on Oct. 5. Fans can expect a high-energy series of performances that blend new tracks with beloved classics, all delivered with the Kings of Leon's legendary fervor.

Stray Kids & Charlie Puth, "Lose My Breath"

Stray Kids have teamed up with Charlie Puth for their latest release, "Lose My Breath," a track that blends K-pop dynamism with Western pop flair, written by Stray Kids' own producer team 3racha (Bang Chan, Changbin, and Han) along with Puth. The TK song details a whirlwind of emotions, describing symptoms of breathlessness and heart-palpitating moments encapsulated in the lyrics: "I lose my breath when you're walking in/ 'Cause when our eyes lock, it's like my heart stops." 

"Lose My Breath" is described as a "warm-up" for Stray Kids' forthcoming album, set for release this summer. The track further highlights the global appeal of Stray Kids ahead of their highly anticipated headlining set at Lollapalooza in August. It also continues Puth's engagement with K-pop, following his previous work with other K-pop acts including his collab with BTS' Jungkook, "Left and Right," and "Like That," a song he co-wrote for K-pop girl group BABYMONSTER

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J-Hope performing in 2022
J-Hope performs during the Times Square New Year's Eve 2023 Celebration in New York City.

Photo: Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

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J-Hope's Road To 'Hope On The Street Vol.1,' From Falling Back In Love With Dance To Tying Together His Global Influences

After 11 years in BTS, j-hope revisits the passion that started it all: dancing. Ahead of his new docuseries and special album, 'Hope on the Street Vol.1,' discover the full-circle journey that brought him back to his roots.

GRAMMYs/Mar 28, 2024 - 04:28 pm

"Just dance," j-hope commands on his 2018 BTS solo track.

For the international sensation, that's what it's always been about: expressing himself through movement. Now, 11 years after the launch of the seven-piece group, j-hope takes a U-turn to where it all began, before his K-pop idol days, street dancing between his hometown, Gwangju, and Seoul, South Korea.

Out March 29, j-hope's new special album, Hope on the Street Vol.1, is a musical ode to dancing that boasts a "vibrant collection of six tracks spanning a diverse array of sounds and moods that showcase j-hope's musical prowess and depth." Like j-hope's global perspective of dance, the EP expands borders and sounds, featuring appearances from HYBE labelmate HUH YUNJIN of LE SSERAFIM as well as American stars Nile Rodgers and Benny Blanco.

The mini-album will also be accompanied by a docuseries of the same name, premiering on Amazon Prime Video on March 28. According to a press statement, the six-part project will "highlight j-hope's story and love for dancing as he begins a new journey."

Ahead of Hope on the Street Vol.1's arrival, take a look at how j-hope's origins inspired the project — from his enrollment in a local dance academy to songwriting with J. Cole on their 2023 single, "on the street."

Finding Purpose In Dance

Long before becoming a global superstar, j-hope (born Jung Ho-seok) first discovered his love for dancing on the playground.

"The school I went to had a dance lesson for 30 minutes in the morning. They would play a dance video, and we would copy it as exercise," j-hope recalled in a 2013 interview for the BTS Japan Fanclub magazine. "My friends around me would praise me, saying, 'You're really good!'"

Eventually, those recess workouts turned into a passion. J-hope began practicing moves at home and freestyling at local talent shows. By the sixth grade, he told his parents he was serious about it, enrolling him in Gwangju's Joy Dance Academy.

While at the Academy, j-hope also joined the underground dance crew, NEURON, building a reputation under the name "Smile Hoya." Though he hasn't participated in the troupe since his pre-BTS days, he still recognizes it as one of the most influential parts of his career.

He'll even honor the crew with Hope on the Street, which includes a track called "NEURON," featuring Gaeko and yoonmirae. He will also return to Gwangju in the closing chapter of the docuseries.

It's not the first time j-hope shouted out Gwangju, either. His 2019 collab with Becky G, "Chicken Noodle Soup," paid tribute to his beloved upbringing: "From Gwangju, one gang of you-know-what/ Geumnam Chungjang Street, that's my Harlem." (The same track also foreshadowed his latest release: "Hope on the street, now it's my own way.")

Forging A New Life In Music With BTS

J-hope continued to have a diligent mindset as a trainee at Big Hit Entertainment. But as revealed in BTS' 2018 docuseries, Burn the Stage, training and dieting became emotionally and physically tolling. At one point, j-hope even considered leaving the group.

"I couldn't do things I wanted to do," he revealed during a 2021 You Quiz on the Block segment. "To be honest, I wanted to play games. I want to go out and hang out. I wanted to stay with my family. I had to give up a lot of things from that perspective."

The stress became so intense that he bought a one-way ticket to Gwangju. But ultimately, the brotherhood and love of music he formed with BTS gave him the courage to return: "I came back because I trusted you," j-hope recounted.

And they trusted him, too: "I told [Big Hit] that we needed Jung Ho-seok. We couldn't debut without him," RM responded. Meanwhile, Jung Kook delivered a tearful speech to encourage him to stay with the band.

The longer he stayed, the more j-hope began to love other sides of music, like producing and songwriting. Now, he has become one of the main writers for the group's tracks, alongside RM and Suga, and has co-penned all of his solo projects, including Hope on the Street.

Spreading His Wings With Two Full-Length Solo Projects

After nearly 10 projects with BTS, j-hope delivered his debut mixtape, Hope World, in March 2018.

"My fantasy had always been making a music video and performing with the music I had created. I wanted to put my own story to music and share it with the world," he told Time magazine upon Hope World’s release.

It's an introduction to j-hope the artist, inviting listeners to step into Hope World, a colorful kaleidoscope of different cultures and styles — something that has also been a key part of his dance journey.

Though, j-hope still wanted to dig deeper into his artistry. He developed his sound, becoming more vulnerable in his lyricism on tracks like 2020's "Outro: Ego." By 2022, he was ready to drop his first studio album, Jack in the Box.

Where Hope World showcases j-hope's dance performance, Jack in the Box highlights "my artistry in music." But Hope on the Street paints the full image of the phenom — part musician, part dancer.

Laying The Groundwork With "On The Street," Featuring J. Cole

One of j-hope's earliest musical influences was J. Cole. The rapper inspired j-hope's stage name and the title of his mixtape, which pays homage to 2011's Cole World. In 2022, j-hope honored Cole with "Born Singer," the BTS re-write of Cole's "Born Sinner." So, a celebratory meeting was in order when they were both scheduled to perform at Lollapalooza (where j-hope made history as the first Korean soloist to headline).

"[He's] my idol," j-hope said to Variety in 2023. Since they met, he "couldn't stop thinking about how great it would be if we could make music together." He reached out to J. Cole, and "on the street" was born.

As j-hope told Variety, the "street" concept became a metaphor for life: "The street is a place where people can actually encounter and feel real lives of people: a child's innocent mind; first encounter with someone and falling in love; someone in an urgent moment;" and so much more. It's the place where he learned to love dance — and where he grew a love for music and artists like J. Cole, who called their collab "a blessing" in the behind-the-scenes footage.

And thus, "on the street" became the springboard for his forthcoming project, Hope on the Street.

Unveiling A Docuseries And A Multi-Part Project

By the tail end of 2023, each member of BTS had enlisted in mandatory military service. But even during the septet's hiatus, j-hope managed to serve up a surprise announcement of Hope on the Street on Feb. 17 with a fitting montage of dance videos.

The joint docuseries and album follows j-hope's journey of self-discovery, accompanying his former instructor, Boogaloo Kin, as they dance their way through the streets of Osaka, Seoul, Paris, New York, and his hometown while meeting other dancers.

"Hope on the Street, my roots, the most important part of my life. This is how j-hope danced. I wanted to share this story with you," he said in an interview for the documentary.

After years of breaking records and making history as a member of BTS, it was "a chance to look back on my life," he explained in another trailer. "I realized the answer was in song and dance."

Culminating j-hope's skills in both art forms, Hope on the Street is a love letter to everything that's made him who he is today — and proof he'll never forget it.

6 Takeaways From 'BTS Monuments: Beyond The Star'

Megan Thee Stallion (Center) and (from L to R:) J-Hope, Jin, Jungkook, V, RM, Suga, and Jimin of BTS attend the 64th Annual GRAMMY Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena on April 03, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Megan Thee Stallion (Center) and (from L to R:) J-Hope, Jin, Jungkook, V, RM, Suga, and Jimin of BTS attend the 64th Annual GRAMMY Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada on April 03, 2022.

Photo: Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

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9 Essential K-Pop/Western Collabs: From BTS And Megan Thee Stallion, To IVE And Saweetie

From Jungkook and Usher's tribute to their shared musical idol, to BLACKPINK and Selena Gomez' sugary sweet collab, K-pop and Western artists of all genres are joining forces to create killer hits.

GRAMMYs/Feb 27, 2024 - 02:12 pm

It’s impossible to ignore the growing global popularity of K-pop. Although Korean pop has been around for decades, the genre's meteoric worldwide success over the past 10 years is reminiscent of Beatlemania and the early 2000s American boy band craze. With a steady increase year-over-year in album sales and K-pop groups touring the U.S. and Europe, interest in K-pop shows no signs of slowing down.

Initially launched in South Korea as a music subgenre with Western pop, R&B and hip-hop influences in the '90s, the K-pop industry is valued at around $10 billion.

Given the worldwide appetite for K-pop, several Western musicians are keen to partner with K-pop acts crossing over into more international markets, often with songs sung partially or entirely in English. While K-pop artists do not need Western artists to be successful — BTS sold out London’s Wembley stadium in under 90 minutes back in 2019, and BLACKPINK made Coachella history twice with performances in 2019 and 2023 — K-pop's massive fanbase and multi-genre influence make it an ideal collaboration for everyone from rappers and singers to electronic DJs.

But don’t take our word for it. Here are nine of the most iconic K-Pop/Western collaborations (not in any order; they are all great songs!).

Usher and Jungkook - "Standing Next to You (Usher Remix)" (2024)

The maknae (the youngest member of the group) of global K-pop superstars BTS and the King of R&B are both having banner years: Jungkook released his debut solo album, and Usher just performed at the Super Bowl

The Bangtan Boys have cited Usher as a significant influence (even singing a callback to his 2001 hit "U Got It Bad" in their No. 1 song, "Butter"), so BTS fans were delighted when the Jungkook tapped Usher for a remix of "Standing Next to You." The song marks the fourth single from his Billboard 200 chart-topping debut album, Golden

Both singers count Michael Jackson as a major influence. In their collaboration video, Usher and Jungkook pay tribute to the King of Pop as they slide, pop, and lock across the slick floor of an abandoned warehouse. 

John Legend and Wendy of Red Velvet - "Written in the Stars" (2018)

R&B singer/pianist John Legend was the perfect choice for an R&B ballad with Wendy, the main vocalist of K-pop quintet Red Velvet. The final song on the five-track SM Station x 0, a digital music project, "Written in the Stars," is a beautiful, mid-tempo love song. A bit of a departure from K-pop’s typical upbeat sound, Wendy and Legend are in perfect harmony over a warm yet melancholic rhythm.

As Red Velvet’s main vocalist, Wendy was the ideal voice for this collaboration. Additionally, she split her childhood between Canada and the U.S., and has been comfortable singing in English since Red Velvet debuted in 2014. This wasn't her first collab with a Western artist: In 2017, she released an English-language version of the pop ballad "Vente Pa’Ca" with Ricky Martin

BLACKPINK and Selena Gomez - "Ice Cream" (2020)

A powerhouse debut single, BLACKPINK collaborated with pop royalty Selena Gomez on the massive 2020 hit "Ice Cream."

An electropop-bubblegum fusion filled with dairy double entendres, "Ice Cream" was an enormous success for both Gomez and the BLACKPINK girls. The track peaked at No. 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 and has racked up nearly 900 million YouTube views to date. 

Written by a consortium of hitmakers, including Ariana Grande and BLACKPINK’s longtime songwriter and producer Teddy Park (a former K-pop idol himself), "Ice Cream" shows that YG Entertainment’s golden foursome and Gomez were the correct partnership for this track. The pop-trap bop marked the first time a K-pop girl group broke the Top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and immediately solidified BLACKPINK as global superstars. 

Snoop Dogg and Monsta X - "How We Do" (2022)

West Coast rap godfather Snoop Dogg has quietly become one of the go-to Western acts for K-pop collabs, working with Psy, BTS, Girls’ Generation and 2NE1. K-pop is the Dogg Father's "guilty pleasure," and he performed at the Mnet Asian Music Awards with Dr. Dre in 2011. Without Snoop's love of K-pop, the world might not have gotten this fun and energetic collaboration with Snoop and Monsta X, a five-member boy group under Starship Entertainment.

The song appears in The Spongebob Movie: Sponge On The Run in a dance segment where Snoop, decked out in a pink and purple Western suit, is accompanied by zombie dancers. Though we do not see the members of Monsta X, their harmonious crooning is the perfect accent to Snoop Dogg’s trademark casual West Coast flow.

BTS and Steven Aoki - "MIC Drop (Steve Aoki remix)" (2017)

No K-pop list is complete with a nod to the magnificent seven, and "MIC Drop" is one of their catchiest Western collabs to date. 

"Mic Drop" is quintessential BTS: a nod to hip-hop with a heavy bass line and fun choreography. While the original version of "MIC Drop" is excellent, the remix with EDM superstar DJ Steve Aoki and rapper Desiigner cracked the Top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100 — the first of many hits for the Bulletproof Boy Scouts. 

Released at a time when BTS were just starting their ascent to chart-topping Western dominance, the track's boastful lyrics and tension-building electro-trap production offered an excellent introduction to the group that would soon become international superstars. 

JYJ, Kanye West and Malik Yusef - "Ayyy Girl" (2010)

A truly deep K-pop cut, you’d be hard-pressed to find many people who know that Kanye West collaborated with a first-generation K-pop group over 13 years ago. Released as the lead single on JYJ’s English-language album The Beginning, West’s signature bravado and wordplay are on full display over a track that sounds like the Neptunes produced it.

The song garnered attention in the U.S., but after a string of bad luck (including a severely delayed U.S. visa process and issues with their management company, SM Entertainment), JYJ could not capitalize on their American success. The group continued to see success in Korea and Japan in the early 2010s but never made a splash in the Western market again.

IVE and Saweetie - "All Night" (2024)

A reimagining of Icona Pop’s 2013 song of the same name, "All Night," sees fourth-generation K-pop girl group IVE partner with rap’s resident glamor girl Saweetie for a funky, electronic-infused pop song that’s perfect for dancing from dusk till dawn. 

"All Night" is the first English song for the Starship Entertainment-backed group. Interestingly, none of the members of IVE have individual lines in the song, choosing instead to sing the lyrics in a six-part harmony. This choice is exciting but fun, giving listeners the feeling that they are more than welcome to sing along. 

The girl group embarked on their first 24-date world tour in January 2024, with stops in the U.S., Asia, Europe and South America. Given their quest for global dominance, there’s a good chance "All Night" won’t be IVE's last English-language release.

BTS and Megan Thee Stallion - "Butter (Remix)" (2021)

BTS’ "Butter" had already spent three weeks atop the Billboard charts and was declared the "song of the summer" when the group’s label announced Houston rapper Megan Thee Stallion as the guest star for the song’s remix in late August 2021. The GRAMMY-nominated septet is no stranger to collaborating with Western musicians, having worked with Halsey, Jason Derulo, and Coldplay

Though only slightly altered from the original (Megan’s verse was added in place of the song’s second original verse, along with several ad-libs), the remix was praised by both fans and critics alike, catapulting the song’s return back to the No. 1. Although the collaborators did not release a new music video featuring the group and the self-proclaimed "Hot Girl Coach," three members of BTS’ "dance line" (members J-Hope, Jungkook and Jimin) released a specially choreographed dance video. Additionally, Megan was a surprise guest during BTS’ record-breaking Permission to Dance LA concert in November of the same year.

LE SSERAFIM and Niles Rodgers - "Unforgiven" (2023)

GRAMMY Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Nile Rodgers' first foray into K-pop was a partnership with LE SSERAFIM, a fourth-gen girl group from the same parent company behind BTS. "Unforgiven" was released earlier this year as the lead single from the group’s debut album of the same name. 

A darker take on the familiar K-pop formula with A Western feel and look (the young quintuplet dons cowboy hats, boots and bolo ties in the song’s accompanying music video), "Unforgiven" is about rebellion and being a fierce, strong and independent risk taker. That riskiness drew Rodgers' ear. 

"It seems like a lot of the K-pop that I'm hearing lately, the…chord changes are a lot more interesting than what's been happening [in other music fields] over the last few years," he told GRAMMY.com in 2023. "I come from a jazz background, so to hear chord changes like that is really cool. They’re not afraid, which is great to me."

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