Review Summary: Dark and brooding, Simi Lab prove that Japanese rap can be just as menacing as American underground acts.
Overseas, Japanese hip hop is usually looked at as a form of pop music. True, many of Japan's current popular emcees do dabble in pop-stylized rap, with some notable names being Zeebra, Kreva and Rip Slyme. However, deep within the J-rap underbelly, hardcore hip hop has been brewing for nearly two decades. Spearheaded by the likes of Rappagariya, Ozrosaurus and Seeda, hardcore Japanese hip hop has been getting steadily more popular, and is beginning to overshadow the more poppy hip hop side that Japan is most accustomed to. Active for almost a decade, the underground supergroup, Simi Lab, managed to get the hip hop underground in a stranglehold with their whimsical style of alternative-based raps (a-la OFWGKTA) and just penetrative bass-driven beats, which seems to border the lines of horrorcore in some aspects. With their first album, "Page 1: Anatomy of Insane", Simi Lab managed to concoct a highly unique blend that takes many groups years to develop.
Numerous styles are displayed on the "Page 1: Anatomy of Insane" album, which only Simi Lab could flow wondrously on. "Show Off" catapults the album in a glitchy, highly-sampled style which shows the dizzying number of members exchanging impressive bars. Similar to the style of American supergroup OFWGKTA, the Simi Lab emcees whimsically float along the surface of the beat, and "Show Off" ends up being a main showcase for the unique flows of the Simi Lab crew. "Uncommon" is perhaps the album's finest moment, as the members of Simi Lab execute even more whimsical lyrical blows over a penetrative bassy rhythm in a more organized fashion, with a rather catchy chorus intact. With "Uncommon", Simi Lab prove just how they are one of the most unique groups to break out of the Japanese underground hip hop scene. "Twisted" follows an instrumental which appears to be heavily influenced by the bassy and heavily synthesized West Coast hip hop style. This unique approach gives Simi Lab a more mainstream appeal, and serves as yet another canvas for Simi Lab to brilliantly shine upon.
In short, "Page 1: Anatomy of Insane" by Simi Lab definitely has the potential to radically revolutionize the Japanese hip hop scene. Simi Lab's members definitely rank among the top of the Japanese hip hop scene, with their impressive talents of changeable flow to match the varying styles of the beats. If you like your hip hop grim, with a mesmerizing sense of flow and wordplay, definitely check out Simi Lab, and more specifically, "Page 1: Anatomy of Insane".