CRAZYBOY: ‘NEOTOKYO’ – EP Review

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Released: July 7, 2017 (Rhythm Zone)

Diverging straight away from the Exile brand, ol’ CRAZYBOY (solo stage name for Exile’s ELLY) has dropped his second part EP titled ‘Neotokyo II’. For me, thank god an Exile member has decided to spread his wings and make his own music because, as far as I’m concerned, the formula of the band has become a lil’ dry over the years, only just to pick up bits and pieces of the EDM craze that everyone tends to dive head-first into these days. But for this, CRAZYBOY delivers his newly-explored aesthetic onto his second EP; a hip-hop ridden sound that is severely drenched in over-the-top electronic synths and pro-tools.

As expected, the sound on NeoTokyo II is a big departure from Exile’s work, but picks up from where he left off on his debut NeoTokyo. The EP opens with the mid-tempo number “Starship”, which is exactly what you would expect from a rapper; riddled trap beats, over-used electronics, and complete self-adsorbed songwriting. Not too bad to be honest, but bro seriously. To me, it feels a lil’ bit dated and doesn’t do anything particularly fresh for him (no tea no shade y’all…). He manages to redeem himself a little bit on the synth-driven jam “Bad Habits”—which is “quite” the departure sonically—but again, this seems like a rip-off from the Disclosure note book. Nothing particularly original, but neither is it insistingly bad. Next…

Fortunately, the other two tracks are rather… well, listenable from the start to the end. For me, the trap-influenced jam “0921” is quite ratchet… and I like it! The song is definitely the only number here that stands out, and showcases a more diverse and solid take on his capabilities when it comes to the raps, the writing, and the singing (trust me y’all, you won’t be disappointing with this nugget!). But then the agile jam “No More Cry”—which is a collab with his Exile boy Ryuji Imaichi—is a mixed bag. Of course, it’s the only recording that let’s him spit FIRE to the ends of the earth, but for me, I felt Ryuji-san’s inclusion was a little bit of an after-thought. No tea no shade, but yeah…

But the most criminal element to the EP is not in fact the songs itself (yep… MIND BLOWN). It’s the deliveries and production that literally have me smacking my head on the table saying “Why, why, WHY?!”. First of all, the excessive use of auto-tune. Like, CRAZYBOY… Why? Why, why, WHY?! To me, none of these tracks benefit from the tool, so adding it on this EP was completely unnecessary. And unfortunately, all four songs suffer a very dated and drowned over-use of synths, trap-inspired throw-in beats, and feels quite unfinished. Not a good look Booaaayy, not a good look!

For me, I think CRAZYBOY needs to re-vamp some elements for his next EP (whenever the hell that is…) because NeoTokyo II felt quite mehhh. Apart from two tracks, there wasn’t really anything exciting or worth repeating on that damn phone of mine! And I know all y’all Exile and J Soul Brother’s stans will be like “How dare you Liam!” or “What are you talking about?”… Child, get yo head out the clouds. I just didn’t feel it did any favours. Though I am anticipating more material and appeal from his—in particular—NeoTokyo II didn’t do any favours and, all in all, it sounds more like a near-finished idea than a fully-realized project. Still though, I have big prospects for ya CRAZYBOY!

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