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Released: 2024″On the Street” by J-hope delves into the emotional labor of life and the artist’s journey on the proverbial “street.” It conveys a spirit of resilience, hope, and dedication, affirming that every step along the path is for the collective “us” and not just a solitary journey.

The word “시선을 얇게 이기고자, the arduous road, we try to smile.” encapsulates a mindset of not just surviving, but thriving amid challenges. This speaks to the broader metaphor of life as a journey, where hardships are part of the landscape, and it’s our ability to smile in spite of any dark clouds that exemplifies our resilience. Embedded in this line is an example of Korean wordplay, where “시선” refers to someone else’s gaze, manifesting the theme of societal expectations and pressure. The phrase can be translated as “thinly winning over the gaze,” suggesting a resistance to feelings of being judged or scrutinized.

When J-hope sings, “가는 길이 희망이 되고자 하여, 나 구태여” he’s expressing a determination to make the path he’s on one filled with hope. There’s an undercurrent of resolve here – it’s not just about weathering the storm, but actually transforming the journey into something hopeful.

In lines such as, “내 두 발은 선뜻 걸어, anywhere / J in the air,” J-hope surrenders himself to the journey, ready to walk “anywhere” with confidence. The reference to “J in the air” can be seen as an affirmation of his identity, reinforcing his commitment to his journey.

The repetition of the phrases “Every time I walk / Every time I run / Every time I move,” emphasizes J-hope’s continuous effort and action. It subtly nudges listeners to reflect upon their own activity: when we walk, when we run, when we move – what is it for? Who is it for? J-hope suggests in his repeated answer, “As always, for us,” that our actions can be for a collective purpose, rather than solely self-serving.

Phrases like “아문 길, 위, 거친 고함을 놓아 / 흉터가 핀 꽃 길을 봐” embody the hard realities of life. “흉터가 핀 꽃 길을 봐” can be translated as “Look at the flowers bloomed with scars.” This is a palpable illustration of the pain endured – the ‘scars’ but also the capacity for growth and beauty that springs from such hardships, exemplified by the ‘bloomed flowers’.

When J-hope asks, “What the hell is time?,” he contemplates on the fleeting nature of existence and the ever-changing circumstances. He also explores the complex nature of time as either healing or damaging, destiny-like in its inescapability.

Overall, “On the Street” is a philosophical exploration of life’s journey, moving listeners to reflect on their own paths, their reasons for taking each step, and the nature of resilience and hope in an often challenging world.

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