Okay, but seriously, I was debating on how I would structure this post because I had read a rather amusing take on the whole situation here, on the almighty Kpopalypse’s blog and wanted to add some light-heartedness into the situation as well. Though some may say the Australian guy is being insensitive or tactless to the current situation by watering it down to a satirical “..how to be a real hip-hop..” but I personally found it gave me a few laughs during a time where I felt stressed within an already emotionally charged environment on the K-pop internet. However, I’m not Kpopalypse. I’m a cynical Insomnia or rather a lost idiot, and after some of the things I have seen and experience on the internet in the past couple of days, I want to write this post my way.
One of the reasons why I wanted to type this up as well is because I originally had no one to really vent to about this situation. No one around me personally seemed to care enough about the controversy surrounding Yoongi and Jim Jones. At first, I was a bit embarrassed because I wondered if I was just overreacting or in the wrong for feeling the way I did, but after seeing others like me or others being even more affected than how I had felt, I felt better.
Take for example Twitter user, @kikeekiwi, who posted a video in response to BigHit’s apology of the usage of the Jim Jones sample on Yoongi’s mixtape: (EDIT (27/08/20: The video has been taken down).
Just in case it’s no longer there, I will explain what she says. In the video, she explains how for the first time she felt ashamed for calling herself a supporter of BTS. She explains that she doesn’t believe that Yoongi didn’t know about the sample and where it came from. Additionally, she points out the mob-like mentality of the ARMY fandom for doxxing black women for not accepting his apology despite having Black Lives Matter in their usernames.
Initially, when I watched her video, I related to her pain and disappointment. When it was first revealed that Yoongi had used a sample from Jim Jones, a rather well-known American cult leader who massacred hundreds, I was disappointed and lost a huge chunk of respect for the man. I was Yoongi-biased, so it did hit me harder, though I would like to preface that I did not stop biasing him based on the Jim Jones situation. I was already falling out of touch with him due to not vibing with his recent style of rapping as evidence from my album “review” of BTS’s Map of the Soul: 7 review. However, I respect that he is experimenting with different ways of delivering his raps and obviously isn’t going to rap the way he did, say, back in 2015. Me not liking how he raps these days is my own personal problem.
However, after looking up the offending song, “What do You Think“, that uses the Jim Jones speech, and the lyrics, I can safely say that I’m also not impressed by his lyrical writing in the song either. Which is a shame because Yoongi is known to be somewhat of a genius lyricist among the fandom and while I think that is a bit of an exaggeration, I also admired what he had to say and how he said it within his songs. Yet, this song is just a diss to his haters. Case in point:
미안 좆도 관심없네 니 인생이 어중간한 것도
I’m sorry but I don’t care at all about how mediocre your life is
니가 망해서 똥통을 벗어나지도 못하는 것도
or about the fact that you can’t escape the shithole after failing
내 성공이 니 실패와 연관이 있다고 생각하다니
Thinking that my success has anything to do with your failure,
착각이 수준급이군 좆도
you’re fucking great at being delusional
개그감들이 so so 니가 좆된 것은 니 탓이지 no no?
Your sense of humor is so so, you fucked up at your fault, no no?
이 노랠 듣는 ******** 뭐 개빡쳐서 졸도 [joldo]
The ******** who’re listening to this song would get fucking pissed and faint
빠꾸없이 또 직진 난 전세계 so fly huh
There’s no going back, I go straight again, I’m global, so fly huh
굳이 하지 않아 난 flexing but 전세기 so fly
I don’t necessarily do flexing, but on a chartered airplane, so fly
And this was just after him repeating “What do you think” to open the song (after the Jim Jones sampling, of course).
Look, there’s nothing wrong with him dragging his haters necessarily, if it wasn’t such a pattern in BTS’s songs for the past couple of years. Consequently, because BTS has gotten so big and all 7 members are probably set for life, “flexing” on unnamed haters isn’t admirable but comes across as arrogant and quite prideful. The rest of the song is basically like this and if you don’t believe me, you can check the rest of the lyrics here.
Still, going through the lyrics of the rest of the songs on his mixtape holds a bit of hope. Not every song has Yoongi spitting hate at his haters or not not flexing his fame or penthouse in Hannam. I said this specifically because a lot of comments I saw as a result of the Jim Jones controversy lamented or jeered at how fame has gotten to his head and so we have these lazy tryhard lyrics. Now, I’m not trying to whiteknight him, but after going through some of the other songs, I would say yes and no. For instance, we have “Moonlight” and “점점 어른이 되나 봐” (ENG: Perhaps, I’m gradually becoming an adult) who delve into topics like fighting your internal self amongst the changes of life and facing the challenges of becoming an adult, respectively. Though in “Moonlight” he does kind of throw in his penthouse in there and admits he has been called immortal among other such…compliments, but take that as you will.
Mind you, I’ve only looked at the lyrics, not listen to the songs. After listening to both, “What do you Think” and “Daechwita” (which is just another flex on my haters song), I was turned off to listening to his mixtape. As a fan of his first mixtape, admittedly the controversy of the Jims Jones sampling has soured the experience for me. Not to mention BigHit’s apology also didn’t move me either. I can’t help but agree with kikeekiwi, it is unbelievable that Yoongi would know nothing about the sample as stated below:
The vocal sample of the speech in the introduction of the song “What Do You Think?” on the mixtape was selected without any special intent by the producer who worked on the track, who was unaware of the identity of the speaker and used the sample for the overall atmosphere of the song.Big Hit’s Official Statement on the mixtape
It also says “by the producer” and not Yoongi, himself, implying that he was not the producer in question and thus is partially absolved from the guilt of this whole catastrophe. Yet, he is credited as a producer on numerous sites included Genius and the Korea Music Copyright Association (KOMCA).
Though I have heard that they (ARMYs, BigHit to an extent) are trying to erase his association as producer on this particular track, so if you see credits for his song going around and he’s not listed as a producer, you know what happened.
In addition, despite many who came to Yoongi’s defense in using the sample as a diss to Jim Jones who was notably taken with the North Korean way of life and thus anti-South Korean to some, were shut down when BigHit admitted that it was used for “the overall atmosphere of the song,” so basically for aesthetics.
If that wasn’t enough, recently, new information from a Daily Naver article has come out that Yoongi did indeed know that at the very least, he knew the person he was sampling from was Jim Jones, cult leader of Jonestown. This is evident in his song, “Set Me Free”, which is starkly similar to Post Malone’s, “Jonestown.” According to the article claiming this, the informant was noted to have said, “If Post Malone had not released a song called ‘Jonestown’, Suga’s ‘Set Me Free’ couldn’t have been born.” I would suggest reading the whole article as it is short and sweet and gets its point across unlike me. Or if you just want to listen and compare for yourself, the videos are below:
Finally, overall it is a bit baffling to think that Yoongi didn’t know a THING about the sample when there is literal video evidence of him using the exact same sample as he produced it in a BTS movie documentary, Bring the Soul, which came out in August of last year. It is highly unlikely that he would let any old sample into a song that he meticulously put a lot of work into making, so why sit on it for nearly a year without checking who’s speaking, where it came from, and the background surrounding the clip. For someone who takes his music production seriously, it is a major oversight on his part. But then again, as stated in the paragraph above, Yoongi at least knew who was speaking even if he didn’t know the background behind Jim Jones and Jonestown.
Here is the Bring the Soul clip mentioned above. You can hear Jim Jones shouting in the very beginning of the clip from Yoongi’s laptop, so please listen closely (ignore Jungkook, he had his moment in the spotlight a couple weeks back).
Ultimately, this brings me to the next half of this post. As always, I aim to educate a bit on lessons we can learn from this as if I’m some moral police or your history teacher, but I do think it’s important to know about who Jim Jones was and what Jonestown was because seeing all the comments of ARMYs turning on ARMYs and people getting doxxed is too much and unfortunate. We all need to know why some fans feel so upset with BigHit and Yoongi, and not discredit or put down those feelings like what happened with kikeekiwi above who faced death threats, accusations of lying and disparaging remarks made against her. It got so bad that she made a video thread clearing up the lies, but as of the time of this writing, her friend has taken over her Twitter account for her mental well-being. This is another reason why I write this post because it is sickening and disheartening to see just how the situation has reduced her to mentally, emotionally, and possibly physically too and yet, the haters keep coming. And all because she didn’t accept Yoongi’s apology. Why? Were humans given the ability to empathize with one another for nothing?
Perhaps some don’t care since it was over 40 years ago when Jim Jones manipulated or forced over 900 people to drink cyanide laced fruit punch to “commit revolutionary suicide.” Maybe they don’t care that out of the deaths that day, almost 300 of them were 17 years or younger. Or that 47% of the victims were black women who made up 45% of the community of Jonestown, Guyana. I think these are the specifics that those who are upset over the usage of Jim Jones’s voice, his words, and sentiments in Yoongi’s “What Do You Think” were disturbed by. Even if you do not understand why perturbed fans are making it a race problem in these heated days of Black Lives Matter, please just look up at the other facts of the matter and take some heart.
Jim Jones was a mentally disturbed individual and was already fascinated with death as one of his childhood friends, Chuck Wilmore, admitted in a Rolling Stones article recalling that, “He [Jim Jones] was obsessed with religion; he was obsessed with death. A friend of mine told me that he saw Jimmy kill a cat with a knife.” Another wild thing that about “Jimmy” was that apparently he thought everyone was homosexual and that he was the only heterosexual, despite basically having sex with both his female and male followers. Is this really the type of man you want to share the same song with and have both of your vocals heard together? At the very least, BigHit did cut the Jim Jones part out of the song, but the damage has been done. Jim Jones is not someone you want to be associated with.
Yet, this man managed to become the leader of the People’s Temple, his own church creation started back in the ’50s that was affiliated with the Disciples of Christ, a group of protestant churches, later in the ’60s despite not having any religious training or affiliation for any denomination of Christianity. Due to Jones’s paranoia over a nuclear holocaust (cause remember, this was in the middle of the Cold War), he hopped his congregation from Indianapolis to Ukiah in California before opening other churches in San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Despite what should be the obvious to us on retrospect, he was quite the popular guy making friends with fellow pastors and holding interracial services which was unusual at the time due to segregation still being the norm in the US at the time. In fact, a majority of his congregation were African-American and followed him religiously and perhaps for awful reasons.
A Britannica article I found described Temple members treatment as follows:
Temple members were regularly humiliated, beaten, and blackmailed, and many were coerced or brainwashed into signing over their possessions—including their homes—to the church. Black members and members of other minority groups were convinced that if they left the Peoples Temple they would be rounded up into government-run concentration camps. Family members were kept apart and encouraged to inform on one another.
Honestly, sounds like a certain someone we learned extensively in history class but I ain’t naming names.
Yet, he still managed to convince a little over 1000 of them to go with him to Guyana, a South American country, after the press started to kick up a fuss about the Temple’s practices. The 1000 began what was then called, “The People’s Temple Agricultural Project,” or colloquially, Jonestown.
Interestingly, according to a BBC article (warning: contains graphic images of death! Don’t make my mistake), one survivor of the massacre, , she was content with life and found the work she did there, “meaningful and fulfilling.” This is in spite of the agricultural work becoming complicated by the heat, food shortages and their leader, Jim Jones, mentally deteriorating fast as his drug problem became worse as he faced a custody battle of a child that was probably not his to begin with.
Eventually, this all culminated with a visit from a US delegation led by Congressman, Leo Ryan, to Jonestown. They weren’t wanted there. Jones and his cohorts had tried to dissuade from outside visitors especially from the US government from coming, but had to give in eventually. However, this is not without taking Ryan and his delegation down with them along with any Jonestown resident who wanted to leave with them, of which there were quite a few.
On the day of November 18th, 1978, after touring the town which depicted a pleasant picture of Jonestown, Ryan’s delegation including a few defectors were waiting for their return flight when some Temple gunmen ambushed and gun down the group leading to the death of five people including Congressman Leo Ryan. It was after this attack that Jones put his “revolutionary suicide” into action.
Soon afterwards, Jones gave the suicide order and in front of his followers within his compound, gave his infamous death speech which included telling them that because of the deaths of part of the delegation, the Guyanese military would invade and take their children away. Then he watched and coerced the adults to administer the cyanide-laced flavor-aid which also included bits of valium and chloral hydrate to the children first. Admittedly, I made the mistake of listening to parts of the death tape and if you are morbidly curious to look it up yourself, please be warned it will leave you a bit shaken if you are particularly sensitive to stuff like this. But once the children were dealt with, the adults also took part in the suicide ritual which I may note now, is something that they practiced before during what was called “white night” events which were basically mock mass-suicides as a test of loyalty to Jones.
In the end, over 900 lives were lost and the little less than 100 survivors who lost family, friends, and acquaintances lived on but at what cost?
My shoddy explanation in summarizing the Jim Jones and Jonestown does not cover all of it. I have to admit, before the scandal with Yoongi and Jim Jones, I had only heard vaguely about Jonestown. I don’t recall ever learning about it in school, at least extensively. This is in spite the fact that it was the worst mass killing in American history before 9/11. Let that be food for thought.
Still, I do hope that I left something for those reading until the end to think about in relations to this incident in the K-pop world. Though it is small to others, it is a major issue with some people. kikeekiwi is not the only BTS fan – black woman or not – that is upset and angry over Yoongi’s use of Jim Jones. Whether he knew about it or not, whether he knew about the background or not, and whether he used it to make a statement against pro-North Korea Jim Jones or not, is up to you because I’m not necessarily here to change your mind.
Instead, I would like people to remember that it is not right to elevate your K-pop boy over the well-being of others. I do not understand how dehumanizing others can be to each other and especially during a time when the whole world is facing hardships, loss, and personal issues due to a pandemic followed by the emotionally charged BLM movement. I’m not even mad, I’m just tired and sad.
Personally, am I going to cancel Yoongi? No. I believe he definitely needs to actually reflect on this and not the empty kind of reflecting you read on idols’ handwritten letters when they mess up either. I mean true hard self-reflection and some good ole education. I’ll give him a second chance, but that doesn’t mean I speak for every black women out there. Nor does it mean that I particularly feel the same way about him after this. I did admire him as a producer and a lover of music, but after this, I’m not sure.
I know I will get hate from some people for the words I said, but they come from a place of disappointment as said in the tweet. I picked that quote from a Korean netizen because their sentiments reflect mine. How can he expect to be seen as this thorough passionate self-producer when he (or BigHit) deflects the blame onto someone else and stays quiet while letting daddy BigHit talk for him. It’s embarrassing. Not just for his image and reputation, but as the person he is now. And along with some of his lyrics, notably in Daechwita and What Do You Think, and the general tone of each, it’s all just things I’m not impressed with right now and need a bit more time to process how I feel about Yoongi as the idol I know as far as the cameras show me.
Unfortunately, I don’t think much will change. At this point, everyone and their mother knows BTS are coddled by ARMY who will defend them to the death. Which would be fine, if they didn’t harm others in the process. Still, I’ve learned that we have to find some amusement in the mess, so I will leave with this gem that came about in the aftermath of this calamity:
In the spirit of the times, if you have the patience, please check out these links to petitions to sign and causes to donate to:
But above all, I stress, if you are feeling like you are at your limit then please please, I beg of you to take a break. I don’t care who you are, black, white, yellow, brown, blue, magenta, if your mental health is being compromised and you cannot handle anymore news or social media, then log off. Enjoy a movie, chat with a friend, binge on some ice cream, anything that takes your fancy.
Just remember, you are worth more than a million and one, so be gentle with yourself. Take care.