“BTS star Suga apologizes for using Jonestown massacre leader Jim Jones’ voice in song”
June 2, 2020 | 6:45pm
In 1978, Jones notoriously had 918 of his followers — 304 of them children — commit mass suicide by drinking cyanide-dosed Flavor Aid at his jungle commune in Jonestown, Guyana, before shooting himself in the head.
The sample was featured at the beginning of the track “What Do You Think?” from Suga’s late-May mixtape, “D-2.” Pulled from a sermon Jones gave in Philadelphia the year before his death, the preacher says, “Though you are dead, yet shall you live, and he that liveth and believeth shall never die.”
Many took to social media to express their outrage at the sample’s use, and it has since been removed from the now-reissued track.
“We have our various processes for reviewing our content that are targeted to our global audience, to try to avoid social, cultural, and historical issues, but we also have our limitations in understanding and responding to every situation,” his management Big Hit Entertainment writes in a statement regarding the sample. “In this case, we were not aware of it in advance, and we lacked the understanding of the historical and social situations relating to the sample. We apologize to those who have been hurt or felt uncomfortable by this.”
“Suga himself is embarrassed and feels deeply responsible for a problem that he did not realize,” Big Hit’s statement continues. The sample, Big Hit says, was “selected by the producer who worked on the song without any particular intentions, and without knowing who the speaker was.” Suga, 27, is one of the song’s three producers.
For some fans, the apology was not sufficient.
“The political landscape of the world feels especially super-charged right now, and the apology seems like the company’s attempt to defuse something potentially volatile,” says Texas-based writer and Suga fan Celeste Hollister, 45, according to the Korea Herald.
Despite the controversy, the album has topped charts across the globe. Suga, who also uses the stage name Agust D, was born Min Yoong-gi and is part of the beloved seven-member South Korean boy band BTS. The group has previously been the subject of political controversy after members wore hats with Nazi symbols and a T-shirt of the US bombing Japan.
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