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Stream It Or Skip It: ‘Hope on the Street’ on Prime Video, a docuseries where J-Hope of BTS celebrates dance as a force in his life

The title of Hope on the Street (Prime Video) cleverly aligns the professional nom de guerre of BTS’s j-hope with the title of his new solo single and the rapper, singer and dancer’s professed adoration for street dancing. Directed by Jun-Soo Park with creative input from j-hope himself, the six episodes of Hope on the Street will release weekly on Prime and feature j-hope and special guests like South Korean dance champion Boogaloo Kin as they pop and lock on a global scale, hitting Seoul, Osaka, Paris, New York City, and j-hope’s hometown of Gwangju, where a young Jung Ho-seok learned his earliest moves.    

Opening Shot: “I started out dancing,” j-hope tells his interviewer. “Dancing’s what opened up the doors for me. So I thought I should look back on the dances I’ve done before.”

The Gist: Before he made his Big Hit debut as a K-pop idol, before he became a highlight of BTS’s contingent of rappers, and before he hit the Hot 100 as a solo artist with the Becky G collabo “Chicken Noodle Soup,” j-hope was just a kid who loved to dance. “I had forgotten all about it,” he says early on in Hope on the Street. This is maybe a little bit of an exaggeration, considering the supercut of furious BTS dance moves that plays as he says it. But the point is, this docuseries lets j-hope reflect on where life has taken him. What was his mindset, back when he debuted? What is it now, as he begins his mandatory military service? (J-hope was on active duty as of April 2023). And was it dance that made him who is today? 

The answer, of course, is yes. And in a lead segment to Hope on the Street’s brief introductory episode, j-hope dances solo through the converted shipping containers of Seoul’s Common Ground shopping mall for a feature of his new single “On the Street.” In cutaway interviews, the K-pop star describes his motivations for crafting the docuseries around dancing. And as an entree into the scope of Hope, brief vignettes feature footage of j-hope and his friend and mentor Boogaloo Kin as they cut it up in locales like Seoul, j’s hometown of Gwangju, Paris, Osaka, and New York City.

J-hope also puts his flying limbs on pause for a little time to philosophize. Take the popular hip-hop dance form of locking, for example. “My life is similar to the locking dance,” he says in his hotel suite interview. “There are times I have to lock things up, and there are other times I have to loosen up, take things more easy.” Truer words, j-hope. Truer words. 

What Shows Will It Remind You Of? An entire ecosystem of programming has developed around the members of BTS as they take the superstar boy band into hiatus mode, complete their mandatory military service, and explore solo projects. Hope on the Street director Jun-Soo Park helmed In the Box, which documented the making of j-hope’s solo album and the run-up to his performance at Lollapalooza 2023, as well as SUGA: Road to D-Day, both of which stream on Disney+. And BTS danced and sang their way down memory lane in the recent film/documentary Yet To Come.    

Our Take: The early going of Hope on the Street is certainly an effective tease for the full run of the six-ep docuseries. The raw, almost iphone-like footage that captures practice in the studio is lively when set against the basic interview segments and the more professionally-shot sequences that showcase j-hope and Boogaloo Kin dancing on the streets of Osaka, or up and down a staircase in Paris. But j is also genuinely excited to connect each location Hope visits to a specific dance style that inspired him, and perform with heavy hitters of that form. So it’s popping in Osaka – that’s the forte of local favorite Akihito “Gucchon” Yamaguchi – and locking in Seoul. Paris is all about house (“house has always been my inner rhythm” – j-hope facts!), while New York is for hip-hop alongside legendary street dancer Henry “Link” McMillan. And once Hope on the Street returns to Gwangju, anyone who has memorized BTS member biographies will also recognize the guys in Neuron, the dance crew where our featured idol cut his teeth. About dudes like DXNG WXX and MISHKA, j-hope just refers to them admiringly as “Ssaem,” or teacher.  

Sex and Skin: Nothing like that, but the bold looks and oversized cuts of streetwear fashion dominate Hope on the Street. Do you dig the shimmery blue number 34 Nike dri-fit jersey j-hope rocks in a few segments here? The BTS fan army has already done background research on the garment. And get ready to see the Supreme logo. A lot.

Parting Shot: The credit roll in Hope on the Street becomes a cool concluding segment in itself. J-hope is back in his giant Nike jersey as a single take catches him dancing through a Seoul alleyway while production credits are splashed like graffiti on the surrounding walls.  

Sleeper Star: Hak-nam Kim, better known by his stage name Boogaloo Kin, brings a veteran presence to Hope as a renowned dancer in his own right and mentor to j-hope. “Passing down the dance moves that I’ve learned, studied, researched, and practiced myself to this generation and the next, in the correct way, is my current motivation.”  

Most Pilot-y Line: The Hope intro brings the prompts – “Who am I?”; “What future do I want?”; “What is dance?” – and answers its own question. “Dance is life; life is dance.”  

Our Call: Hope on the Street is definitely a STREAM IT if, as a BTS head, you can’t get enough of the wave of content that presents the boy band’s members in solo settings. But in a larger sense, anyone who’s a fan of street dancing as a dynamic form will find plenty of moves on display.  

Johnny Loftus (@glennganges) is an independent writer and editor living at large in Chicagoland. His work has appeared in The Village Voice, All Music Guide, Pitchfork Media, and Nicki Swift.

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