BTS’s J-Hope takes ARMY on a stroll down memory lane (of course, safely on the street) and his artistic development in “On the Street,” which was released on March 3 and featured none other than one of his biggest musical influences, J. Cole. In the post-credits scene of J-Hope’s February 2023 documentary, J-Hope In The Box, he alluded to the single track, saying, “J-Hope In The Box focused on showing J-Hope as a person. On Hope ‘On The Street’, I’ll be going back to my roots.” Fans were captivated by the preview and wondered what exactly the roots he wanted to showcase, whether musically or physically. Following the release of the music video, fans were curious about the filming locations in J-Hope’s “On the Street” music video.
J-Hope kept to his word that the song would focus on his humble beginnings, going back to his days as a street dancer before joining one of the biggest boy bands in history. J-Hope sings about giving his all for the fans who have put their love and faith in him as the song follows him through New York City. The song also acts as a sort of goodbye for now, as it comes after Big Hit released a statement informing the public of J-Hope’s plans to start the initiation process of joining the military and the termination of his enlistment postponement.
The music video showcases New York’s alleyways and emphasizes a more laid-back and grounded environment; fans and the general public alike were intrigued by some of the specific locations shown in the music video, such as the alley, subway station, and roof where he meets J. Cole at the end. Some fans even pointed to possible deeper meanings of the filming locations and the intentions behind them. I’ve done a bit of deep diving and put on my ARMY thinking cap to discover some of the locations and theories.
The “On the Street” filming location in Cortlandt Alley could be a nod to J. Cole’s “Simba.”
ARMY is quick to become detectives for music video locations, as proven by their discovery that Jin’s “The Astronaut” was shot on the Warner Bros. lot. This time around, they noticed that the teaser photos and music video alley shots were filmed in Cortlandt Alley in Tribeca, between the streets of Walker and White.
Fans also pointed out that the filming may have also been a homage to J. Cole himself. The South Korean-based video production company, Lumpens, which has previously worked on BTS music videos including “FAKE LOVE” and “DNA”, shared a link to J-Hope’s MV with a GIF of Simba from The Lion King on their Instagram story. Fans of J. Cole will recall “Simba” as one of his first songs and music videos from his debut mixtape The Come Up, released in 2007. The video starts with a shot from the sky that slowly pans down to J. Cole in the streets of New York City, which is oddly similar to the beginning intro of J-Hope’s video on “On the Street,” which pans to a similar street where J-Hope is speaking with a child.
J-Hope has long expressed his admiration for J. Cole, even referencing him in BTS’ debut album, Dark & Wild, back in 2014 in the song “Hip-Hop Phile,” rapping, “Hope hope world/Before I made my own world, Cole world/Ever since he shone on Friday nights,” referring to J. Cole’s third official mixtape of the same name released in 2010. In 2013, BTS released a single titled “Born Singer” on SoundCloud; the song was actually an instrumental sample of J. Cole’s song “Born Sinner” featuring James Fauntleroy, and in 2022, the composers and J. Cole granted BTS permission to use the sample, which was released on their anthology album, Proof.
“Simba” and “On the Street” depict both artists wanting to be successful and find their sound, and it would be a cool full circle moment for J-Hope to have his inspiration also be his muse for the music video filming of their featured collab. J-Hope is totally living a fanboy’s dream!
The subway station scenes were filmed in Bowery Station.
Fans were able to identify the location of the subway scene as Bowery Station, the BMT Nassau Street Line of the New York City Subway, where J-Hope performs an iconic dance during J. Cole’s rap feature. The station may have a deeper meaning because the J Train passes through it (get it? J-Hope, J. Cole, J Train?). Is this a reflection of J-Hope as an artist, or just a fun coincidence?
Were the rooftop scenes filmed on the Seret Studios rooftop in DUMBO?
J. Cole is featured on a rooftop in the music video, and J-Hope eventually meets him there at the end of the song. According to some fan sleuths, the picturesque view could have been shot on the rooftop of Seret Studios in Brooklyn’s DUMBO neighborhood, though it’s not immediately certain from the video itself and hasn’t been confirmed by Lumpens or Big Hit. The rooftop scenes also serve as a popular fan theory that depicts J-Hope’s ascension to the same level of fame as his idol, J. Cole.
The music video is a beautiful depiction of J-Hope’s progression as an artist and the fact that the best is yet to come.