Things don’t always work out. Even when you’re a fan favorite and you work your ass off and you put out incredible music that keeps people coming back and anticipating what’s next, sometimes it just isn’t easy. And I hate that. I super hate that for these young artists, all of whom have left their families and a more traditionally acceptable path, some of whom have left their countries and languages and lives. It just makes me so frustrated on their behalf. It makes me want to tell them that this is only episode 8 of their 16 episode drama, that this isn’t the end, that this is just the next hurdle before it all comes together.
But who am I to make that promise?
JBJ95 is a duo on Star Road Entertainment made up of Sanggyun and Kenta, former participants on Produce 101 Season 2, and members of the fan-picked group JBJ. Always meant to be a short-lived project group, JBJ disbanded in April of 2018. In July of that year, it was announced that this duo from two different labels would continue on together as a permanent group. They debuted in October 2018 with the song Home, one of the loveliest things I’ve heard in a long time. And I’ve heard a LOT of songs named Home that I absolutely love.
In March of 2019, Sanggyun left his label and joined Kenta on Star Road and released several more EPs over the next few years – all of which have deserved WAY more attention and admiration than they received. Despite all of this great music, their promotion periods were short, they didn’t get much air time on variety shows, and basically, we didn’t get any fanfare to work us up into the frenzy a fandom likes to experience prior to a release. Come to find out, Sanggyun and Kenta felt the same. In fact, they felt much worse. In April of this year, the duo filed a lawsuit against their label citing a lack of management and payment issues. The pair are trying to terminate their contract allegedly because not only were they not provided full-time management, they had to hire their own temp managers, their own stylists, make their own appointments, and basically do all the things while also coping with the hectic pace of promoting idols…and not being paid. The agency, of course, denies these claims, has receipts and is promising to show a more mature version of themselves in the future. I obviously don’t know who is telling the most truthful version of the story, but I do know that if an artist was happy, they wouldn’t be suing.
These types of situations, though largely unavoidable in such a large and speculative industry, make me incredibly sad. It hits even harder when I genuinely love the music the label and the artists have made together. The song Spark is genuinely an all-time fav. I hope that we get more from JBJ95 or these artists as a pair under any other name in the future.