Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Gig review: Keith Ape at Howler 8/11/16

Keith Ape performing at the Howler, Melbourne.

Following the success of his viral hit ‘잊지 (It G Ma)’, South Korean rapper, Keith Ape brings his underwater trap style to Australia for the first time in Melbourne.  

The two support acts, Melbourne locals, DJ Slick P and Nico Ghost, work hard hype up the crowd, playing all the right tunes to raise the room’s anticipation and energy levels. 

When Keith Ape comes on, the diverse crowd of Asian, black and white kids absolutely lose it. Matching their energy, Ape bounds on stage, though noticeably lacking the huge rapper ego. Breaking the distinction between artist and audience, Ape consciously makes the effort to high-five all the hands outstretched towards him. 
Accompanied by DJ Matthew Law, Ape also shares his stage with fellow Cohort crew member, Bryan Chase, for the whole night; even graciously allowing Chase to perform a song of his own.

Over the top of the customary trap style of rolling 808 high hats and low, ominous beats, Chases’ higher rap style contrasts to Ape’s gritty and rich tone. And Ape’s underwater fixation is constantly referenced with killer whale calls scattered throughout the set. 

With most of his catalogue boasting features, majority of the setlist of tracks from his mixtape and recent collabs, is cut down. One exception is a brand-new “week old” collaboration with Japanese rapper Anarchy, played in full. 

But tonight’s highlight, of course, is the finale of ‘잊지 (It G Ma)’. Hysteria ensues and phones start recording as the whole audience screams along in Korean and to the famous hook: "It g ma! Underwater squad!"

With the frenzy of limbs and constant jumping, there is an intense synergy between the artist and audience. The two feed of the energy of the other, uniting as a mass of youth elation. 

In this sea of movement, it’s clear, tonight is not about perfect renditions. It’s about a united experience. Not only does Keith Ape live up to his hype, he’ll get you hyped and damn sweaty too.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Review: 12 by Beenzino

Beenzino’s 12 is almost not a hip hop album. Musically, the Korean rapper’s first full length record is on par with neo-soul or even indie. Yet, it still seethes that ‘you better listen coz you’re about to be served the best’ attitude that screams hip hop.  

Following his 2012 “mini-album” 24:26, and 2014 EP Up All Night, Beenzino continues to audaciously represent his everyday life in a way so honest and charming, you’re inclined to believe him. 

Alongside travelling (props to I Don’t Mind’s Australia shout out) and time, uniqueness is the biggest theme of the record. 

Even with the whole language barrier thing, it’s hard to miss the message when he raps in English “I’m unique, so unique, I’m so busy I’m being myself” on guitar heavy Being Myself. 

But he didn’t really need to spell it out so clearly; the cohesion of his flow with the unconventional beats borrowing from a range of genres, does it already.  

You’re reminded of his Illionaire link on the trap inclined January, and cruise though the Tame Impala-esque progressions and synths on We Are Going To

Yet, Beenzino’s producers, long time (Peejay) and new (Genius Nochang), work well to craft a sleek and coherent sound overall. 

Even the three-year-old single Dali, Van, Picasso fits well with the overall feel of the record. 

And real life sound effects of a clock ticking on the gentle Imagine Time, or groovy토요일의 끝에서 ‘s lighter chink, are a nice touches, adding even more to the record’s testament of realness.
The three collaborations are evenly spaced (like for realz) throughout the record to break it up. It’s especially nice to see Blacknut finally rap alongside his hero on토요일의 끝에서.

But honestly, the collaborations work more effectively to signal Beenzino’s distinct melodic flow.

On 12 Beenzino takes a step away from his jazzy roots to create something simultaneously unexpected, and something that makes complete sense. It’s a solid first full length effort for Korea’s favourite rapper. 

In a word: progressive