Paradox Live “Paradox Live Opening Show” (Review)

Fearing nothing and no one, Paradox Live make one of the most impressive debuts in the last couple of years with the ambitious and unique Paradox Live Opening Show.

Paradox Live is a mixed media project that has hip-hop music as its selling point. The project is developed by Avex and G Crest and counts with 4 groups:

  • Bae consists on Gakuto Kajiwara, Ayumu Murase and 96Neko.
  • The Cat’s Whiskers consists on Ryota Takeuchi, Yu Hayashi, Natsuki Hanae and Junta Terashima.
  • cozmez consists on Yusuke Kobayashi and Toshiyuki Toyonaga.
  • 悪漢奴等 (Akkan Yatsura) consists on Takayuki Kondo, Shima, Shunichi Toki, Tasuku Hatanaka and Shogo Yano.

A note that this franchise is accepting votes on your favorite teams. To be able to vote you have to submit the serial code that comes with the physical copy of the album. At the same time you can join the voting by tweeting.

Title: Paradox Live Opening Show
Label: Avex
Release date: 12/02/2020
Genre: Hip-Hop

Tracklist:

CD1

1 - BaNG!!! (BAE)
2 - MASTER OF MUSIC (The Cat’s Whiskers)
3 - Where They At (cozmez)
4 - BAD BOYS ~悪漢奴等 Underground~ (Akkan Yatsura)

CD2

01.Voice Drama Part "BAE"
02.Voice Drama Part "The Cat's Wiskers"
03.Voice Drama Part "cozmez"
04.Voice Drama Part "悪漢奴等"

Track by track analysis:

1 – BaNG!!!

B.A.E are the rich hard hitters with their trendy mix of pop, rap and trap, creating a hypnotic experience with BaNG!!!. Washy synths, dark and dirty hits, a slow paced, hard-hitting beat and an explosive drop, make this song exude a grace and class that mixes the best of pop – catchy lyrics, simple compositions – with hip-hop’s deep, bassy beats and breath holding drops.

When it comes to rap we get a full on Asian experience with rap in Japanese, English and Korean, the last two with close to perfect pronunciation. It is impossible not to immediately fall in love with the team’s vibe, sound  and quality on the vocal/rap ends.

2 – MASTER OF MUSIC

Lo-fi has been an ongoing trend for those fans of chillout, jazz and hip-hop music with a quieter approach. The Cat’s Whiskers embrace the whole lo-Fi movement with a classy song sampling jazz melodies, creating a soundscape that takes the listener to the bustling neon-sign filled streets of Tokyo.

Saxophone and other brass help the whole jazzy vibe come to life at the same time that it creates such a relaxing backdrop for the song.

Rap is delivered with quite a few quirks in the mix. Natsuki Hanae stands out for its flamboyance whereas Ryota Takeuchi and Yu Hayashi stand out for their off beat rap. Junta Terashima goes for a gentle, groovy rap performance that puts the cherry on top for this cool team.

3 – Where they at

If we are talking about explosive in a trendy way then cozmez will instantly turn into your favorite team. The beat hits too hard, with the snare and hi-hats dictating the insane groove that takes you over.

Synths play a major role into shaping this electro-hop track, exuding a street style of trying to fight for the top no matter the obstacles. The fierce, trap beat, the simple yet straightforward rap and the whole groovy and danceable vibe of the instrumental make it a really catchy track.

On the vocal/rap end you couldn’t get a better duo. Known as versatile singers with a vast background connected to music, Toshiyuki Toyonaga and Yusuke Kobayashi make one hell of power group within the franchise.

Their clean singing parts and the smooth rap are strangely alluring, enticing the listener to follow them and never take the eyes off them. Hypnotic performance and the highlight of this release.

4 – BAD BOYS ~悪漢奴等 Underground~

The album wraps up with a surprise within rap projects and 2D/seiyuu music projects in general. Akkan Yatsura embrace Afrobeat and blend it with a traditional Japanese music touch, giving birth to one of the most exotic fusion genres we’ve came across. A jolly afrobeat beat with touches of bongos and djembe, traditional Japanese wind instruments and percussion hits create an addictive, danceable beat.

The looping lead synth gives exactly that South African touch that is commonly found, for example but not exclusively, in Angolan and South African music.

The high versus low tension battle between Shogo Yano and Shunichi Toki is quite quirky and fun, giving a nice touch to the overall performance. Tasuku Hatanaka goes insanely melodic that, for a split second, he sounded like Home Made Kazoku‘s Micro. The rest of the group goes all out, having fun and delivering a funky performance. 

Final considerations

Paradox Live is such a thrilling project. It starts off on the right foot with 4 unique teams doning their colors with pride in a series of outstanding songs.

A brief side note as there is a lot of talk on how this is a project to somehow present itself as an alternative to the wildly popular Hypnosis Mic. We prefer to consider Paradox Live as its own unique thing rather than an alternative or “rival” project.

Yes, it is a rap project.

Yes, the team color-schemes used might already have a match among Hypmic’s crews, but that’s where the similarities end between both franchises.

Paradox Live is much more than an alternative or rival project. It is a new movement that explores places in hip-hop that have not been explored so far by other projects.

At the same time it tackles interesting themes such as genre identity which is also a novelty in these kinds of projects. To top it off, each team has a well defined identity rooted on the unique sound they don with pride.

This project already sounds very solid from the start with little to no need for “filling in the blanks” or “adding backstory” in order to understand what each team stands for. Of course that will be filled in later but right now it is noticeable that there was no need to shroud anyone in mystery. The music speaks for itself.

So, different projects and both representing hip-hop at the highest of levels. Therefore, let them coexist peacefully and without comparisons. Thank you.

Now, back to our final thoughts on Paradox Live Opening Show.

B.A.E bring the pop-rap of a privileged group that has an international team that defies “common hip-hop” concepts/standards by introducing what might be the very first LGBTQ+ character in an ambitious project such as this one. Through anz, the project is has a character they can related to and, at the same time, it gives a voice to a group of people that up until now were not represented in any way in 2D music projects in Japan.

The Cat’s Whiskers are a quirky group that has a laidback lo-fi sound that is a nice contrast to their unique, off-beat rap. It is rare to see lo-fi getting the spotlight and we couldn’t be more thrilled for this crossover of hip-hop and jazz to find its way to such a franchise and get that deserved exposure. Also, the team “meows” the chorus so bonus points for that extra bit of quirkiness that, somehow, works well with the song.

cozmez brought the hustle to the spotlight. The brothers’ ambition of breaking away from their humble beginnings and reaching the top is a relatable and inspiring challenge, captured perfectly in the instrumental that is as hard-hitting and dark as one could expect given the underlying theme. Their street rap-meets-electronica sound is fairly addictive.

Akkan Yatsura claim to be the bad boys in town but their sound runs deeper than expected. They mixed afrobeat and traditional Japanese music to create a fusion genre that is a first within the 2D idol/music projects ongoing in Japan. That mix also shows that the team might be more than meets the eye.

All in all, this is a level headed project with big ambitions and with a bigger delivery. A stellar cast including seiyuu with no prior experience as rappers, others known as chameleons in the music industry and some with serious rap game, got together to create one of the most exciting projects currently in Japan.

All of this is wrapped up with a high quality seal and a replay button to go with.

Paradox Live Opening Show is available for purchase at CDJAPAN.

Paradox Live Opening Show / BAE x The Cat's Whiskers x cozmez x Akan Yatsura
BAE x The Cat’s Whiskers x cozmez x Akan Yatsura

1 COMMENT

Comment