Subunits are a tried and true way for idol groups to experiment with their sound, let individual members shine, keep the group in the spotlight between comebacks and attract new fans. While some ingenious fan-imagined subunits never happen, sometimes fans are gifted with the combination of their dreams.
If you asked an iGot7 in 2018 which Got7members would be most likely included in the group’s long-awaited new subunit, it’s doubtful they’d predict that JB and Yugyeom would team up for Jus2. Especially since JB is already part of Got7’s built-in subunit JJ Project.
While it’s now almost standard for K-pop groups to divide into subunits at some point, Got7 hadn’t technically gone down that road because of the group’s pre-debut duo. JJ Project, made up of JB and Jinyoung, debuted as a pair in 2012 with their energetic single “Bounce.” Despite their buzzworthy debut, the group disappeared for two years until JJ Project joined the lineup of JYP’s seven-member boy group in 2014. JB became Got7’s leader and JJ Project rapper Jinyoung became a lead vocalist.
Five years later, JJ Project made a comeback with their first EP, “Verse 2.” The mature, introspective self-produced album was a major departure from their initial sound and allowed fans to see the two as evolved artists. Got7 has also experimented with unit songs during their concerts and on their latest “Present: You & Me” repackage album, with the rap line and different combinations within the group featuring on songs together.
Despite Got7 testing out different units, JB and Yugyeom hadn’t performed together on a track or special stage. But with other members busy with individual promotions, the stars aligned for the subunit Jus2 to be born.
Despite other possible subunit pairings, Jus2 makes sense when listening to the sound the pair crafted for “Focus.” JB and Yugyeom co-wrote and co-composed every track on the album. It has a consistent through-line of smooth vocals and sultry R&B beats with an
“Focus” also has a clear, if sometimes generic, lyrical focus. Its six songs center on the theme of a passionate relationship in which the men are vibing with the object of their affection.
In other words, prepare yourself to body roll.
The album kicks off with the dynamic title track, “Focus on Me.” The reverb behind both singers’ sweet vocal tones and the backing synths give the track an intimate, ethereal feel. This is balanced by glitchy effects and warped, dirty percussive beats that give the track some grit and attitude.
Most of the songs on the album combine straightforward English hooks with interesting imagery in the verses. “Focus on Me” establishes this model:
“Under the dimmed lights
Our shadows dance together
It’s like it’s out of a movie
When we know each other’s feelings
We’re painting with the moonlight
It’s getting close to perfection
… It’s blinding, your reflection on the window
It’s sweet, your breath around my mouth”
While Got7 keeps their lyrics chaste, Jus2 obviously have the liberty to be more risque with their overt displays of affection and their PG-13 metaphors.
“Drunk On You” carries over the guitar introduced in “Focus on Me,” this time pairing it with stuttering R&B claps and snares that mirror the stuttering in the chorus that they’re “dr-dr-drunk on you.” This plus the song’s underwater echo creates the effect of being tipsy and drowning in someone’s aura.
“Touch” mixes things up, acting as a bit of a palette cleanser. It begins like a bright, synthpop Got7 track before dropping into a mid-tempo chorus. Unfortunately, this is where the track gets weighed down by muddy instrumentation that obscures the vocals rather than helping them soar. The bridge and outro are more balanced, clearing the way for the album’s scrumptious second course.
“Sense” and “Love Talk” are supermodel runway-ready deep house treats. Over the years, K-pop has fully utilized house music and its many sub-genres. Recently, there have been plenty of examples of tropical house and future bass, and Got7 even included house beats in their 2018 comeback “Lullaby.” But simple classic house beats are rarely allowed to carry tracks the way they do on these two songs.
“Sense” could easily feel like background music but the dramatic talk-singing and the dreamy “fly” line help this track from feeling repetitive or monotonous. While “Sense” is smooth and easy, “Love Talk” brings the robotic funk. Its chirpier, wobblier beats and modulated vocoder vocals create a sound that’s evocative of Daft Punk or, to make a K-pop comparison, Taemin’s “Drip Drop.” Even through all the effects, JB and Yugyeom keep it sexy with a bass-driven chorus and falsetto ad-libs.
The lyrics continue the theme of “Focus on Me”:
“Whisper a bit more
In my ears more
Whisper a bit more
In my ears more
Concentrate on me only
Out of all those people
Only to my voice
Ignore all other sounds
Will you come closer to me
I can’t hear you, why?
For me, I just need your voice
I don’t need music”
If “Love Talk” is the album’s rich layered dessert, “Long Black” is its smooth after-dinner coffee — that could lead to more intimate late-night activities. Instead of being “Love Drunk,” JB and Yugyeom are now hooked on their lover like caffeine, metaphorically comparing their paramour to coffee, which can be sweet or bitter, soothing or invigorating. This R&B ballad is the perfect BPM for body rolls and features a lovely fadeout to close the album.
It’s not really a standout cherry on top at the end of the album, especially compared to the uniqueness and impact of “Focus on Me” or “Love Talk.” But it doesn’t feel like a throwaway either, adding richness and contrast to the album overall.
“Focus” is distinctive and cohesive, full of moody, slick grooves that are sexy and hypnotic. With JJ Project and Jus2, Got7 is two-for-two when it comes to the group’s subunits. Jus2 successfully showcases JB and Yugyeom’s swagger and vocal colors. Fans of their style will certainly be focusing on them in the future as well as what other Got7 subunits are capable of producing.