Suika Ripe Stripes

Suika, named after the Japanese word for "watermelon,” is an organic hip-hop quintet who were founded around a spoken word/slam poetry night sponsored by Flying Books in Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan. Ripe Stripes is their sophomore album and is again released through Flying Books’ spin-off label Fly N’ Spin Records, and features yet another song dedicated to the tiny bookstore. This time around they’ve added much more live instrumentation into the mix, and toto’s spoken word poetry sounds more confident, blending much better with the raps of Takatsuki and ATOM — the latter previously a member of one of Japan’s most interesting rap groups, Spiritual Juice (who are unfortunately now defunct). In fact, all of Suika sound much more confident with the new direction. While their lyrics are primarily Japanese, the groovy jazz beats can be appreciated on their own. Comprised of a variety of percussion instruments, wood bass, acoustic and electric guitars, and organs and pianos like the Elepian and Wurlitzer, Suika’s Ripe Stripes is perfect for chilling out or hitting the dance floor. Most tracks have a clean, professional sound, but track ten is a standout with a gritty tribal drum feel, distant rap chants and some exotic instruments. For hip-hop with a slightly different flavour, give Suika’s Ripe Stripes a little taste. (Fly N' Spin)