Kaigen21Meiso Root Is The New Leaf

Kaigen21Meiso Root Is The New Leaf
A collaboration between Tokyo, Japan rapper/producer Kaigen and Hawaiian rapper Meiso, the two find common ground in their love for hip-hop and their shared cultural backgrounds, expressed here most obviously via their primarily Japanese lyrics. As well, both chop rapid-fire raps, but Kaigen's energetic, throaty delivery is abrasive compared to Meiso's smooth, layered flow, which almost verges on singing, at times. The music mirrors the dichotomy of the vocals, combining glitchy experimentation with beautifully composed melodies. K-the-I???'s constantly morphing electronic rap symphony "Root Is The New Leaf," Sole's glitchy, indie rock-influenced "Lost and Found" and posse cut "Brave Small World," on which Curse Ov Dialect changes up the beat for each rapper, contribute to a strong start to the album, but the end suffers from repetitive remixes of said songs. Still, Omid's spacey funk beat for "Man of the Year" and Kaigen's two instrumental contributions (the wacky, accordion-heavy "Whimsical Heat Haze" and traditional Japanese-sounding "Cool Summer Dusk") are also worth checking out. While Root Is The New Leaf may never do as well here as it is currently doing in Japan, open-minded North American hip-hop heads would be well advised to look past the foreign language lyrics and embrace the crazy beats and flows. (Takaba)