Quick Reviews: Dynamic Duo, Born Kim, and Ailee

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Dynamic Duo – Luckynumbers

Release: July 1, 2013
Producer/Distributor: Amoeba Culture/Loen Entertainment
Genre: Hip-hop
Reviewer Rating: 

In what has become a bit of a trope regarding Dynamic Duo releases, Luckynumbers is comfortably familiar. Nothing in this seventh album is anything that you couldn’t have expected from them, and indeed Gaeko and Choiza don’t take too many risks here. Beats are punchy and satisfying, generally having warm overtones coming off of electric piano and soft synths. Dynamic Duo still writes some of the most creative lyrics around; the two rappers’ verses in (lazily translated) Lee Dae Ho actually sound better than their arguably more talented juniors Supreme Team. (Choiza manages to drop an inside joke regarding his name amidst punchlines: “What, you doubt if the rumors are true? Then check for yourself // If you’re a man, grab a day // If a woman, grab a room.”) Narrative lyricism, a longtime strength for them, takes off in Tragedy Part 2, reminiscent more of Why I Went Mad (2007) than the prescient Tragedy Part 1 (2004) in its structure. Even the introspective opening track, a tradition found in every single album since debut, returns.

Aside from the predictable stuff, the album’s notable attraction is its mellower moments. The slow love jams of Hot Wings and Good Morning Love are probably Luckynumbers’ best tracks, even without any gratuitous wordplay. In all but the edgiest tracks, the rappers set wonderful atmosphere with nuanced instrumentation and tone. A big part of this is Gaeko’s soulful vocal performance throughout. This is the first time that I’ve been struck by how legitimately good he is; Gaeko’s singing is no longer just a novelty, but a key part of Dynamic Duo’s self-produced identity. It’s not enough for me to say Luckynumbers represents a significant step forward, but neither is this veteran team merely treading water.

Tracklist (recommended tracks listed in bold)

1. 진격의 거인 둘 (Return of the Kings)
2. 쌔끈해 (Three Dopeboyz) – Featuring Zion.T
3. Skit #1
4. 거품 안 넘치게 따라줘 (Life is Good) – Featuring Crush and DJ Friz
5. BAAAM – Featuring Muzie of UV
6. Airplane Mode – Featuring Lee Joo-han, Hyewon of Winterplay, and Simo
7. 만루홈런 (Lee Dae Ho) – Featuring Supreme Team and DJ Friz
8. 슛 골인 (Shoot – Goal In)
9. 날개뼈 (Hot Wings) – Featuring Hyorin of Sistar
10. 아침사랑 (Good Morning Love)
11. 비극 (Tragedy) Part 2
12. 범죄야 범죄 (Crime Scene) – Featuring Jung Jae-il
13. 가끔씩 오래보자 (Shin Dong Yeop) – Narration by Shin Dong-yeop

Born Kim – Future Shop

Release: July 2, 2013
Producer/Distributor: Masterplan/Neowiz Internet
Genre: Hip-hop, electro hip hop
Reviewer Rating:

Bold and exhilarating sound design characterized Future Color (2012), and Born Kim kicks it up another notch in this EP. It’s far and away the main attraction: from the minimal acoustic jam of Good Morning Girl to the reservedly powerful guitar riffs of Re-Born and liberal electronic use, there is enough variety for a full-length release in Future Shop. Kim again keeps his lyrical ferocity in check for the most part and the release is short on punchlines and clever moments, but fans of his flow do get a treat in Show N Prove‘s visceral groove. The remix of Burn from the Roots symbolizes the EP’s focus the best: whereas the original aimed to make an emotional impact and get listeners to buy into the attractive titular rhyme, this remix uses the same lyrics and breakneck pace instead as a device to create velocity accompanying the newly minted, driving instrumentation. This is still good hip-hop, just done with a different toolset.

Tracklist (recommended tracks listed in bold)

1. Future Shop
2. Good Morning Girl – Featuring Junggigo
3. Re-Born – Featuring Minos and Lee Hyun-song of The Koxx
4. Show N Prove – Featuring Shaun of The Koxx
5. 2009년 5월 29일 (May 29, 2009) – Featuring Kang Sun-ah
6. 진짜가 나타나 (The Genuine Appears) G-Slow Remix – Featuring The Solutions
7. 뿌리부터 불이붙어 (Burn from the Roots) Naru Doubled Remix

Ailee – A’s Doll House

Release: July 12, 2013
Producer/Distributor: YMC Entertainment/Neowiz Internet
Genre: Pop
Reviewer Rating:

Invitation (2012) and A’s Doll House are both created with the same big-hit mentality and attention to detail. The biggest difference between them is that A’s Doll House is actually supremely enjoyable. The EP is more attractive melodically than its predecessor and makes better use of Ailee’s vocal talent. Her energy is well spent on U & I‘s vibrant brass arrangement and catchy hooks, and No No No attempts to shift the bulk of the musical weight on vocals, which turns out to be a good decision. There’s no great ballad here like Invitation’s Evening Sky, but Rainy Days compensates a little as a powerful pop-ballad number.

My gripe with A’s Doll House is that, like I’ll Show You, the EP is constantly trying too hard to be impactful. The mixing (especially in the first half) seems to intentionally inflate instrument volumes at the cost of balance, and combined with Ailee’s admirably powerful but sometimes overcooked performances, this becomes a loud album. There’s a lot of dramatic devices and concepts here as well, and in the end it’s a little too much to be enjoyed as an album. Perhaps the (seemingly) aggressive Beyoncé benchmarking is for the same reason, but that doesn’t seem to be an issue yet. Not many artists have the particular skill set to even pull that off, and so far Ailee’s showing what she can do. Creativity will hopefully follow.

Tracklist (recommended tracks listed in bold)

1. U & I
2. No No No
3. Rainy Day
4. 이런 법이 어딨어 (How Can You Do This)
5. 열애설 (Love Rumor)
6. I’ll Be OK

Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely of the reviewer and not of hellokpop as a whole.

Agree or disagree? Or have a recent release that you’d like to see reviewed? Let us know with your comments below! Requested albums will be considered each week and may be selected to be reviewed in the subsequent week.

Sources: Photos – Daum Music

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