Review Summary: The Dandelion of Style and Inspiration
My general impression for hip-hop has always been something that is abrasive, a genre of music that is revolved around its cultural background of partying and braggadocious lifestyle. For Seba Jun, more commonly known as Nujabes, his disconnection with the cultural background of hip-hop allowed him to tame the genre lawlessness into a music that is filled with bliss, from a fuel of parties into something that heals. It’s tragic that Seba left this world too soon by an accident that happened about 10 years ago, but his works that combine smooth jazz and hip-hop certainly remained to inspire other producers out there, and one of them is Sweet William.
The Intro “it’s me” is an obvious sign of what la blanka
is going to be, it’s filled with a rather sanguine hip-hop beats and soft piano/synth undertone. The mood that surrounds this album is eerily similar to what Nujabes had perfected, barring the occasional tweak here and there. Indeed, la blanka
isn’t a solo effort, it’s doubled with the Japanese rapper Jinmenusagi whose distinct rapping characteristics contrast with Sweet William’s mellifluous production. la blanka
is a similar experience to jogging within the forest trail, where its production mimics the calming and healing aesthetics of the woods, while the energy flows within the veins with Jinmenusagi’s rapping game.
Within the context of la blanka
, rapping can be defined into the mastery of language. As for Jinmenusagi and his Japanese origin, his flow possesses a high level of fluidity and almost sounds effortless. Even without any understanding of the lyrics, the energy that he brings remains intact. It’s the case with tracks like “cheat” and “so goo” where rhyming words in Japanese strikes the beats with precision and it’s done without sacrificing the accuracy within their hooks to hit the right spot, causing cathartic moments to burst into the ears, showcased by the simple repetitive lines like I just want to f*ck you so good
. “Energy equal” is another showcase for Jin’s mastery, a slow build-up that transitions into a relentless rapping flow.
The fact that Jinmenusagi is rapping in Japanese with some English words in the mix could be a drawback in itself. It’s somewhat an acquired taste that may turn people off if the overall qualities within this album are not enough to compromise. In contrast, Sweet William’s sound design is easily palatable, just like an easygoing character that almost nobody could turn away from. Yet, these clashing characteristics don’t propel each other, they’re infused to create a unique variety of flavors within the 27-minute runtime.
The variety of la blanka
includes the aggressive, trend-inspired, Japanese trap banger “yale”, which is uncharacteristic to the rest of the album and also the hip-hop chart. It also includes funky, movement-inducing “opium”. And even with the recurring theme for the rest of the album, none of the tracks have an obvious similarity. la blanka
is adequate in length, a satisfying listen for a short album.
The dandelion had bloomed, blown by the wind, scattered its seeds, then it withered away. Seba Jun may have gone, but the seeds have grown, and Sweet William takes his turn.