Not even K-pop is free from controversy. Now, BTS’ Suga is apologizing for sampling cult leader Jim Jones on his latest album.
On Sunday evening, Big Hit Entertainment issued an apology over the album using an audio clip of Jim Jones. Jones is an American cult leader who led the infamous mass-murder suicide in Jonestown, Guyana, in 1979. BTS member Suga sampled the cult leader on his track, “What Do You Think?,” for his solo mixtape album, D-2.
The album was released under his alias Agust D on May 22nd and topped the iTunes charts. The lead track, “Daechwita,” also topped the charts on May 22nd in 50 different countries. But K-pop fans’ fanaticism may have worked against BTS in this case.
Fans began to notice that a voice sampling on the track, “What Do You Think?,” was the sermon by Jones. Many fans were sickened by the inclusion of the cult leader on the track. The revelation sparked huge discussions online on whether it is appropriate to sample someone like Jones.
“The producer on ‘What Do You Think?’ chose the audio in consideration of the overall atmosphere of the track, not knowing the identity of the speaker,” Big Hit said in a statement. The company says its producers failed to recognize the inappropriate nature of the sample.
“We apologize for anyone who may have been hurt or offended,” the record label said.
Suga says he feels a deep sense of responsibility for the incident. The kerfluffle couldn’t come at a worse time for Big Hit as the company plans to go public on the South Korean stock exchange.
Despite the explanation from Big Hit Entertainment, some fans are skeptical. Some supporters say the audio was used intentionally to emphasize the message conveyed in the song. Others say the sampling doesn’t mean Suga endorses Jim Jones – just that he is using the speech to underscore a song.
This isn’t the first time members of BTS have found themselves the subjects of controversy. In 2018, Jimin’s decision to sport a sweater with an atomic bomb mushroom cloud in Japan sparked outrage.