“PARADOX LIVE EXHIBITION SHOW” counts with good vibes, plenty of highlights, and incisive rap performances by Bae, The Cat’s Whiskers, cozmez & Akkan Yatsura.
This review includes all songs released in all versions of “Paradox Live Exhibition Show“.
Title: Paradox Live Exhibition Show Release date: 25/11/2020 Label: Avex Genre: Hip-Hop
1 - FRE△KOUT (BAE) 2 - Life Is Beautiful (The Cat's Whiskers) 3 - Back Off (cozmez) 4 - REBELLION -悪漢奴等 is still Burning- (Akkan Yatsura) 5 - P△R△DISE（feat. ISSA）(BAE) 6 - My Sweetest Love（feat. ミッチェル和馬) (The Cat's Whiskers) 7 - Good Time（feat. SKY-HI (cozmez) 8 - EMPEROR - WE ON FIRE!! - (feat. 倖田來未 (Akkan Yatsura)
Track by track analysis:
1 – FRE△KOUT
A tight, triplets and bass-driven beat leads the way for “FRE△KOUT”. The verses count with massive synths and a hard-hitting beat.
But where things get impressive is in the chorus. The instrumental introduces fancy brassy hits to it, slightly changing the dynamics to this song with the power on BAE’s rhymes and clean singing impressing.
This was a cool change of tone for the trio, kicking off this album in an imposing fashion.
2 – Life is beautiful
The Cat’s Whiskers bring boom-bap beats and lo-fi jazz samples to the spotlight for the laidback “Life is beautiful”. The verses have a 90s feel to them, carrying a bit of nostalgia while celebrating life.
The chorus is big, with brass joining in the pounding breakbeat, giving this song an awesome and addictive twist.
The slow, stripped-down break calling you to clap along will pull you in, making it quite the engaging performance.
The rap performances were so on brand with what The Cat’s Whiskers have presented us so far with however, time and time again those sound refreshing, they hype you up while being pretty chill about it all.
I just love this about The Cat’s Whiskers, the class and elegance in the sampling work in their music and then, on top, vocals that call for you, connect with you.
Awesome job yet again.
3 – Back off
cozmez bring an intense trap sound to the table with “Back off”. This song is a statement. Orchestral stabs paint a gritty soundscape as the beat pounds in your ears.
The pre-chorus is clean, with a groovy beat and atmospheric synths building up the tension in a fantastic way, leading to a hard-hitting, bassy chorus with an intensity that stands out in this CD.
Yusuke Kobayashi and Toshiyuki Toyonaga are on a completely different level when it comes to rapping. Their flow and chemistry allied to their awesome clean vocals will make your jaw drop.
4 – REBELLION – Akkan Yatsura is still Burning –
An imposing beat sets a dramatic tone to this track, in the background, synths and strings stabs add depth to the song.
“REBELLION – Akkan Yatsura is still Burning –“ is a dirty rap song with simple, gritty verses with massive focus on a deep bassy sound with equally bassy piano melodies.
The chorus cranks up the intensity however it brings to the spotlight auto-tuned vocals, something that doesn’t sit well with this song.
The performances are aggressive with Takayuki Kondo and Tasuku Hatanaka standing out for their intense and rough performances.
5 – P△R△DISE feat. ISSA
BAE bring good vibes to this the spotlight, sharing the stage with ISSA. The verses in “P△R△DISE” count with ethereal atmospheric synths, a feel-good piano melody, simple beat and bouncy bassline.
The chorus is an explosion of color and fun, heavily contrasting with the gritty sound that the main album has.
This is the kind of song that you’d want to play for a drive thanks to its relaxing summery vibes.
And the performances? Well, I’ve said it before but whenever BAE shift from rapping to singing, they dazzle everyone. You can feel those good vibes in their melodic performance with cool, downtempo rapping and dreamy singing.
The addition of DA PUMP’s ISSA to this song was insanely good. His verse fit the song and the group’s dynamic, something I was worried wouldn’t work at first.
BAE and ISSA’s collab is filled with good vibes.
6 – My Sweetest Love feat. Kazuma Mitchell
The Cat’s Whiskers welcome you to a jazz bar with “My Sweetest Love”. The piano rings, the beat shuffles, and the bassline are punchy as lo-fi brass paints the soundscape. The mood is upbeat with a romantic touch on top.
The chorus is simple, focusing on its bassy sound and the awesome ad-libs and pitch vocals by INTERSECTION’s Kazuma Mitchell.
This collaboration is good. Mitchell’s vocals have a mellow tonality that fit right in with The Cat’s Whiskers vibe. He performed the hook in English, sounding almost like it was a sampled part, something that I believe fits once again with the whole 90s East side jazz-hop aesthetic that the team has going.
Catchy chorus, awesome rap performances and yet another collab gone right.
7 – Good time feat. SKY-HI
cozmez change their vibe for “Good time”, bringing chill summery vibes to the spotlight.
The verses flow quickly through their bassy sound. When you get to the chorus, you’re enveloped in good vibes only. It has an R&B twist to its beat, with those triplets shining on top of an addictive beat and synths stabs.
cozmez’s shift to a brighter type of song wasn’t dramatic, with Yusuke Kobayashi and Toshiyuki Toyonaga adapting immediately to the shift in tone, delivering a melodic performance filled with fancy rap and laidback singing.
SKY-HI impresses with his speed, fitting well with cozmez’s intensity. Contrary to other collabs in this album, SKY-HI gets to share the spotlight with cozmez for the whole song, performing the hook and getting his own parts in the verses.
This dynamic actually works for cozmez although it’s a bit odd to find them tackling such a “feel good” hip-hop tune when they’re known by know for their intense, hard-hitting trap sound and rhymes.
Pleasant surprise and yes, another impressive collab in the books.
8 – EMPEROR – WE ON FIRE!! – feat. Kumi Koda
Wrapping up this album is “EMPEROR – WE ON FIRE!! –“, Akkan Yatsura’s massive track featuring Kumi Koda.
Afrobeat is back with powerful brass in the background, the verses are intense, with a big focus on its mix of bass and brass.
The chorus hit hard, going for a deep, downtempo beat with an infectious rhythm that will have you singing along to it in no time.
The rap performances by Akkan Yatsura are rough with Kumi Koda joining in the chorus – and gets a verse to herself – to add a different twist to the song, a contrasting delicate touch to the vocals.
“PARADOX LIVE EXHIBITION SHOW” is a rock-solid album. Awesome vibes throughout, plenty of highlights to choose from, impressive rap, and even clean singing performances by everyone involved.
BAE spread their charms with two laidback tracks in “FRE△KOUT” and “P△R△DISE” featuring ISSA. Their sound is groovy, their mix of rapping and melodic singing shines from a mile away, with the trio making seamless transitions between both to deliver awesome performances. Their collaboration with ISSA flowed in awesome style, with ISSA fitting right in with the group, adding a unique twist to their vocals.
The Cat’s Whiskers threw it out of the part for me in “Life is beautiful”. They perform a brand of hip-hop that I love. Its elegance comes from the jazz samples, the bounce is lent from the old-school breakbeat and fat boom-bap rhythms and their rapping flows with a comfort and natural flair that you could say all members had always been rappers in their life and I wouldn’t even question the truth to it.
The Cat’s Whiskers’ brand of hip-hop is mature and aesthetically pleasing and that shows also in the collab track “My Sweetest Love” with Kazuma Mitchell.
cozmez went the aggressive route for “Back off”, bringing to the spotlight a hard-hitting beat that intimidates right off the bat. Then, things changed completely for “Good time” featuring SKY-HI. The duo embraced good vibes and summery melodies to deliver a groovy performance and better yet, SKY-HI joined in and their dynamic didn’t change a bit, it was as if SKY-HI had always been a part of cozmez.
Akkan Yatsura were the wildcard in this album for me. They ditched the good vibes and family talk in order to deliver hard-hitting performances with an imposing touch. “REBELLION – Akkan Yatsura is still Burning –“ isn’t particularly a highlight in their repertoire, paling in comparison with some of their previously released song and the whole auto-tune thing going on in some of the vocals in the chorus didn’t sound well.
“EMPEROR – WE ON FIRE!! –“ featured Kumi Koda on vocals and it ended up being their best song in this CD. The contrast between their hard-hitting sound – with a danceable twist – and Koda’s delicate vocals change the whole dynamic about Akkan Yatsura’s performance.
All in all, the Paradox Live franchise keeps showing its cards, bringing trumps with every release that has hit stores as of late. The music is varied, each team has their own, unique identity and trademark sound/vibe, and the collaborations ended up being really awesome.
If you haven’t checked this album, I thoroughly welcome you to do so. Niche hip-hop is well represented by Paradox Live’s groups and the vibes are absolutely good.