It’s the fourth anniversary of Hope World, BTS’ j-hope’s first mixtape! On March 1, 2018, j-hope released his debut mixtape on SoundCloud and shared it via BTS’ Twitter.

The album has seven tracks that are an embodiment of j-hope. The tracks capture his brightness fans delight in and also expressed the not-so-obvious. j-hope gets candid–he tells his story, expressing his fears, thoughts, hopes, and dreams. As listeners, we get an insight into his mind and his world

To celebrate its anniversary, let’s take a trip down memory lane at the masterpiece that is Hope World.

Entering j-hope’s World

Immediately, Hope World is vibrant. From the cover art to the music, the mixtape is groovy and colorful–very fitting for j-hope. As the rapper and main dancer of BTS, j-hope has become his own brand through his spunky fashion, big personality, and distinct taste. It’s easy to identify his sound in Hope World as j-hope contributed in writing all of the album’s tracks.

The opening song on the mixtape is “Hope World,” with which j-hope invites listeners into his world. To enter this new world, we’re submerged underwater as the track begins. This aquatic theme is also evident in the lyrics as he references the book, “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea” by Jules Verne. j-hope raps, “Everyone is an Arronax, I’m Captain Nemo,” indicating that the listeners are Arronax who was being introduced to a world, unknown to him previously. The listener’s guide to Hope World is j-hope, just as Arronax’s guide to the underwater world was Captain Nemo.

Beyond introducing listeners to his world, j-hope speaks about himself as well. In his lyrics, he mentions tidbits about himself– his enjoyment in using vulgar words, his parents whom he takes after, and his values in life as a diligent worker. To prepare the audience for the later songs, j-hope ends the track with the message, “the world is deep, and we’ll give it a go” as he asks listeners to trust him.

Delving deeper into j-hope’s mindscape, “P.O.P (Piece of Peace) Pt. 1” shares j-hope’s purest desires. He wants to “give strength to someone/[…] be a light to someone.” This song demonstrates j-hope’s inspirational and kind-natured spirit, which is no secret to ARMY (fans of BTS). j-hope has been long-standing known to fans as the sunshine of the group. With his bright energy and ever-present smile, j-hope glows with positivity and hope. 

In “P.O.P (Piece of Peace) Pt. 1,” j-hope gives listeners insight into how deep-rooted this desire of goodwill is. j-hope addresses the unavoidable difficulties in life and empathizes with these universal problems. He wants to be an artist who helps others surpass their struggles and brings them peace. He raps, “I’ll help them because I was like them/because I was someone who had a passion.”

Falling Into j-hope’s Daydream

Alongside Hope World’s release came the music video “Daydream (백일몽)” on YouTube. The music video paints an out-of-this-world visual as if the listener is deep within an imaginative dream. As the listener is in this dream, the two sides of j-hope emerge. He addresses his two identities, j-hope and Hoseok, and the struggles that arise from them.

To combat this, j-hope chooses to daydream as his form of escapism. In the dream, the aquatic theme returns in an alternate reality where j-hope exists freely without worry or responsibilities. The pre-chorus brings a whispery air of anticipation as j-hope raps about other mythical realities, citing Alice in Wonderland and Harry Potter, before the truth comes back again that this daydream “won’t last forever.” At the end of it all, j-hope awakens and returns to real life thanks to the blaring of an alarm clock. As j-hope’s first solo music video, the other BTS members visited him on set to express their support.

j-hope’s World Has No Place for Haters

The contrast from “Daydream (백일몽)” to “Base Line” is evident from the beginning of the track. The song starts almost immediately with a hard beat and j-hope establishing what his base line is. In an aggressive tone not heard in the previous tracks, j-hope calls out his haters. While explaining his process behind the mixtape on V-Live, j-hope revealed that the base line is his essence. It is who j-hope is. Any comment from a detractor becomes useless because spiteful words or judgments cannot shake his firm identity. j-hope worked his way up to where he is; the effort it took to debut and to grow to be successful has become a basic standard for him to exert.

“I don’t need your hate code,” j-hope asserts, instead citing the skills he’s worked so hard to cultivate. With “Base Line,” j-hope refuses to let others make little of his effort. j-hope is confident in what he’s been able to accomplish and doesn’t shy from his self-acknowledgment. Instead, he coolly tells others to “watch the base line.”

Just as j-hope is confident in his achievements and the effort he has put into his career, he shares this faith in BTS as well. Where the previous track established how hard he has worked, “항상 (HANGSANG)” expresses the pride j-hope feels for BTS and their success. Though most of the mixtape has been about j-hope himself, the other members of BTS are an integral part of his story. Throughout the song he repeats the word “항상,” which translates to “always” in English, referring to how he is always with BTS. j-hope raps about how BTS made it from the bottom and changed the world as they moved up, “the world falls into step with these seven people.”

As j-hope lets out a quick fire rap near the end of the song to again address haters, he ultimately closes “항상 (HANGSANG)” with gratitude. To his label, his fans, and BTS, j-hope ends the song with love for those who have stayed by his side.

Riding the Slower Waves

Taking another turn in his world, j-hope eases into a more reflective tune with “Airplane.” “Airplane” also came with a music video debut four days after the mixtape’s initial release. j-hope seems to revel in nostalgia as he sings about the older version. He raps, “I remember me from that time.” The music video has the imagery of the sky and airplane, as j-hope recalls his skepticism on how far he was able to come. The song reflects on j-hope’s career from his nervousness during the first time on a plane, to now constantly traveling. To supplement this, j-hope sings, “I feel my success in my airplane.”

The second verse from the song was also included in BTS’s “Airplane pt.2,” from the group’s album Love Yourself: Answer. In “Airplane pt.2” j-hope’s lines are the same as in “Airplane” but delivered at a faster beat. In BTS’ song, the focus is more on how much they are constantly working and how often they travel on planes as a result.

The end of the exploration lands listeners at “Blue Side (Outro).” The succinct track speaks of a desire to go “back to the blue side,” which j-hope likened to returning to childhood, a time of innocence, on V-Live. Much to ARMY’s enthusiasm, this idea is further explored in “Blue Side,” a longer version of the outro released on SoundCloud three years after the initial release. j-hope’s desire for blue was partly nostalgia for the light and free moments from childhood but also hope for a safe haven. But in “Blue Side,” he does not want to simply escape to blue anymore but find a balance between passion, fear, worries and calm.

The mellow track brings with it a sense of peace amidst the nostalgic nature of the lyrics. The song is melancholic for its reflection of the blue days and shows even among all the success, there’s still a lingering colder existence. To “burn blue to death,” j-hope seeks to reinstill his passion. The soothing sound of a distant wind chime brings the mixtape to a close.

The Start of the Next Era

j-hope’s musical artistry and vulnerability in Hope World was rewarded with several accolades. The “Daydream (백일몽)” music video reached 10 million views a mere 16 hours after its release, which broke the previous set record at the time. The video currently sits at nearly 150 million views. Additionally, on iTunes’ worldwide chart, Hope World placed as No. 1 in 109 countries.

With that, j-hope’s world he chose to share with listeners comes to a temporary end. Though it might take some more time, we’re looking forward to his next mixtape!

Listen to Hope World on SoundCloud, Spotify, and Apple Music!

Want more j-hope content? Check out our piece on 13 iconic moments to celebrate BTS’ j-hope here!