GOT7, an Idol group consisting of seven members: Jay B, Jackson Wang, BamBam, Mark, Jinyoung, Yugyeom and Joungjae, made history by being the first K-pop act to chart on Billboard’s Artist 100 since Psy (peaking at nr. 88), entering the chart at nr. 45. But that’s just one of their many successes. Formed in 2014, GOT7 achieved a lot in their music career, so when JYP Entertainment announced that all the members didn’t renew their contracts in January 2021, fans were left heartbroken thinking that the group might disband. On the contrary, while GOT7 decided to depart from the company, they promised not to go their separate ways. Instead, they made the decision to take things slowly while pursuing their individual endeavours. Prior to the members’ respective plans, in May of 2022, the group returned with a self-titled EP, GOT7, proving that they don’t need JYP Entertainment to remain successful.
Just as the group’s career reached its peak, the members still have a lot to show as solo artists. While Jackson Wang has hit the jackpot with his recent release, Magic Man, and a mind-blowing World Tour of the same name, the rest of the guys are working equally hard to reach their potential as well.
JAY B, the leader of GOT7, has always had that special spark whenever he performed with his fellow group members. And while Jackson has decided to dive into more avant-garde material, Jay B sticks mostly to K-pop, with occasional R&B songs popping up in his repertoire. But what made me listen to JAY B was his alter-ego – Def., a persona that is unconcerned with mainstream music and popularity.
When Onion Production announced that JAY B would be coming to Europe, I made sure I was there to witness if the singer is able to perform on his own, without other members supporting him. His European tour, Tape: Press Pause, had five stops, including London’s Indigo at The O2. With a capacity of over 2,350, the show didn’t fill the entire venue, however, there was still a decent crowd to be seen.
The excitement grew rapidly when JAY B appeared onstage dressed in white, with one of the fans shouting “let the angel begin the show”, commencing his concert with Switch It Up, his first release under Jay Park’s label, H1GHR Music. While the song is a collaboration with rapper Sokodomo, the singer managed to stay authentic to the sensual track even without the rapper’s presence.
“Baby I wanna switch it up / All I see is you right now”. The lyrics definitely set the female crowd on fire, preparing them for what’s to come. This was followed by AM PM, another R&B tune, which really gave me the impression that I was watching Def. rather than the famous JAY B. With his smooth dance moves, the singer made sure that all eyes were entirely on him.
The artist opted in for a slow start to his show, and that includes an incredible performance of In To You, which is produced by Woogie and collaborated on with g1nger. And if you are familiar with D’Angelo’s music, you would have definitely noticed that In To You gives that old skool, the 90s feel to it. Not only does the song give off an R&B vibe, but it also has a neo-soul sweetness to it. The first three songs definitely reflected (and still reflect) JAY B’s love for R&B.
When it was time to chat to the fans, and to the crowd’s amusement, JAY B wasn’t shy to admit “I am not cute, I am sexy”. After a short moment, the artist moved on with the show, playing Dive Into You, a nostalgic song from Crazy Love OST Part 4. Armed with a honeyed voice, JAY B delighted the audience with his performance of Count on Me, an R&B/funk song that was produced by GrovvyRoom. And while I was expecting something extraordinary when it came to the artist’s staging, I was left unsatisfied as there was absolutely nothing except JAY B himself, his two dancers, and very disappointing lighting. I don’t know if we simply got spoiled by the greatness of K-pop performances, including fast-paced choreography, colourful outfits, and impressive staging, but what JAY B brought to Indigo at The O2 was way below anyone’s expectations. The venue itself is a venue that begs for an energetic and kaleidoscopic show.
Sunrise, the sixth song from GOT7’s third full-length album, Present: YOU, felt lush and radiant the moment JAY B started to sing. The singer’s falsetto, bridge, and chest voice were beautifully arranged and perfectly executed. His free-flowing vocals impressed me throughout the show.
After another moment, JAY B performed B.T.W and Fame. B.T.W featured Jay Park on the official release, but JAY B pulled it off even without Park’s involvement. Fame, a more upbeat track, made me move my hips from left to right with its catchy tune.
Hush, Fade Away, and Rainy truly grabbed my full attention. Although musically very different, JAY B lengthened each word with a soulful touch. After leaving the stage to catch a breath, a surprise guest performer appeared, Jomalxne, a Hip-hop artist that not many have heard of. After a slow start from JAY B, Jomalxne absolutely smashed it. He brought the required energy that many in the crowd really longed for. The rapper kicked off his short set with Blue Dream, followed by Go and Tell Me What You Like, which caused the audience to jump around to the beat. Jomalxne knew how to entertain those gathered in the venue, shouting: “Tell me what you like!”. And while the crowd repeated the verse after the artist, I noticed that his energy was undeniably high up in the sky. What a performance!
After a short chit-chat, the rapper played two more songs: GZRGH and 2000, with JAY B joining him on stage. And while Jomalxne brought exhilarating energy to the show, JAY B kept that energy going with his second set. He started with go Up, a bouncy song with catchy hooks, which is the title song from his recent solo comeback, Be Yourself. It was such a relief to see Jay B dancing on stage again. The song was followed by The Way We Are, also from the aforementioned EP, and the concert continued with Livin’, Fountain of Youth, Break It Down, and Holyday, and ending with Pray.
JAY B sang 20 songs, demonstrating his skills as a singer, but a questionable solo performer. There was not much effort given to the staging, choreography, and props, and that was slightly disappointing. And, while watching the artist performing live, one question popped up in my mind: “Does JAY B want to remain a K-pop Idol or become an R&B artist?”. If it’s the former, there is no way that international fans would accept his unexciting performance in the long run, but as an R&B singer, absolutely yes! Because his voice is his weapon – he just needs a mic and a chair, and he is free to drag me into his soulful world of music. If one has to judge his show based on vocals and stage presence, I would only judge him based on his singing, because at the end of the day, it’s the quality of the vocals and music that makes him great. I also believe that with time, JAY B will become an extraordinary solo performer.
Written by Maggie Gogler
View of the Arts is a British online publication that chiefly deals with films, music, and art, with an emphasis on the Asian entertainment industry. We are hoping our audience will grow with us as we begin to explore new platforms such as K-pop / K-music, and Asian music in general, and continue to dive into the talented and ever-growing scene of film, music, and arts, worldwide.