review - 16.02.2011 11:01

Popular Japanese hip-hop artist KREVA has finally made his way to the coast of the USA with his new album, JAPANESE RAP STAR for USA, which will debut on iTunes February 16th.

Popular Japanese hip-hop artist KREVA has finally made his way to the coast of the USA with his new album, JAPANESE RAP STAR for USA, which will debut on US iTunes on February 16th. The album, a compilation of songs from his previous works, SHINZO/HEART and OASYS, has been a success within Japan and will hopefully encounter similar reactions from fans within the United States’ rap scene.

JAPANESE RAP STAR for USA starts with the catchy opener of Seikou/Success. With the heavy synthesized opening, it sets the scene for the smoothly rapped verses until the chorus, when the music takes on an R&B feel with the accompaniment of piano. After the second verse the music breaks up, giving the listener an equally dance-heavy rhythm before returning to the upbeat chorus which fades out into a jazzy piano which closes the song out. With lyrics that effect mutual success, KREVA introduces a new element not usual for American hip-hop.

The album's second track, I Wanna Know You, has a catchy electronic keyboard opening which is accompanied by unison clapping. The song's title is burned into listeners' memories as it is repeatedly rapped during the opening before KREVA breaks into the first stanza. The same musical opening remains consistent through the stanzas, perfectly accompanied by the clapping which maintains an almost live recording feel. The lyrics are distorted and jumbled through the stanzas as well as through the chorus, which is little more than the song's title on repeat. Despite this, the hip-hop flow leaves listeners feeling as though they're standing within a wild crowd of fans seeing the song performed first hand.

Over the next few songs, we see a much softer side of KREVA's debut album, starting with Umaratekite Arigtou/Thank You For Being Born which features pop singer Sakai Yu. The heavy bass song combined with KREVA's rapped verses produce an all new styled slow song. Despite its slower pace, it's perfect to preserve the feelings it is meant to produce while still getting those hips moving.

Michi Naki Michi, starting with a drum opening that features a clacking noise reminiscent of wood smacking together, produces an interesting melody which flows into the gentle R&B rhythm soon to follow, complete with keyboard and sparkling sound effects. Remaining vocal-less until nearly a minute and a half into the song, the lyrics that finally echo through set a mood that is much more heavenly and relaxing than previous songs, putting this song on a cloud all of its own.

Continuing into Kamo-IF, the opening sequence makes listeners believe they will receive another slow song, but the song picks up in melody slightly. The lyrics are echoed throughout the song as if being sung in a large hall; some lyrics are distorted and stuttered to give it the usual hip-hop edge. The main instrument accompanying the song is the keyboard, but is also features backup singing. While the song lacks any formal chorus, its haunting breaks between stanzas remain impressionable.

The beginning of Tarareba, while beautiful, is a surprising one for listeners: instead of KREVA, they're treated to the crisp voice of Japanese pop singer SONOMI. Her sensuous voice is a perfect harmony when combined with KREVA's, who joins SONOMI at the thirty-second mark. He sings his way through each stanza before he joins back up with his female counterpart at the chorus, adding a spark of beauty. While the song's rhythm remains fairly monotone and focuses mostly on the drums and gentle harmonizing in the background, it's a strong track to the album.

The album's seventh track, Saishukai/Last Episode, is the most pop oriented song on the album with its video game-esque opener and the scratching tied in for a hip-hop flair. While KREVA's verses are steady rapping, the chorus takes on a life of its own with a very upbeat sound not unlike most Japanese pop. Saishukai proves that KREVA is able to branch out musically, a welcomed change on the album.

Oasys, the title track for KREVA's previous album, is a wonderful addition to JAPANESE RAP STAR for USA. Its synthesized opening slowly builds momentum while creating an eerie yet beautiful air that surrounds not only the single track but the aura of KREVA himself - and the perfect interlude melody helps close out the album before its final track.

Changing Same, the final track, is an upbeat rap song with a melody which is like a rainbow after a storm. Breaking through the occasional harshness of the rap is the high-pitched keyboard melody. Like Kamo-IF, the song lacks a formal chorus, instead being replaced by the optimistic melody. Changing Same really is a cheerful closing song and one that is sure to leave a smile upon listeners' faces as they reach to press "repeat."

American fans need to look out, because KREVA is about to bust down the doors of traditional rap and show the country that he really knows how to make hip-hop come to life.

You can find more information about KREVA's new album on Cool Japan Music's website and his Facebook page.
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