The rise in popularity of K-hip-hop and K-r&b has fundamentally changed the K-pop landscape, and we’re reeling from those effects this summer. Hip-hop sub-units are nothing new for idol groups (hello, Infinite H!), but in a climate where this sound is becoming more ubiquitous they no longer feel like an unpredictable novelty. Bringing together members Sehun and Chanyeol, EXO-SC will be EXO’s first-ever attempt at a full-on hip-hop album.
SM Entertainment is giving this project a robust promotional push, promising no less than three title tracks. Of course, the definition of “title track” can be open for debate. In my opinion, Just Us 2 (있어 희미하게) feels more like a bonus pre-release. But whatever its purpose, I’m predicting that I’ll enjoy this song more than upcoming title track What A Life, which already sounds too indebted to a tired trap style. If you’re going to go the mellow hip-hop route — especially with a vocal blend like Sehun and Chanyeol’s — Just Us 2’s warm, easygoing aesthetic is the best way to do it.
Much of this comes down to the influence of producers. The bulk of SC’s upcoming album will be composed by Devine Channel, who rarely create music that appeals to me. Just Us 2, on the other hand, rides on a beat by hip-hop producer Gray, who’s always been a master at this simple, summery style (though I could do without the squeaky plink plink of keys that overtakes much of this track). Throw in Gaeko on vocals and the song feels authentic and effortless. I like that it’s a mix of rap and singing, allowing both members to display a variety of talents. Chanyeol’s lower tone contrasts well with Gaeko’s standout hook, which has an appealing lilt that cuts through the somewhat monotonous verses. I don’t think that K-hip-hop will ever fully click with me in the way that idol releases do, but Just Us 2 definitely has its charms.
Even as a huge EXO fan I have to admit i have low expectations from this unit. Its not about Chanyeol and Sehun’s limitations as vocalists (they have improved a lot over the years ) but the limitations that SM production tends to put on them by giving them tracks that are too “safe” or cookie cutter pleasant.
This song kind of does the same, although the little feature by Gaeko switches it up a bit. It is refreshing to hear Sehun and Chanyeol sing on their own, but I feel like it lacked one more beat-track in the background to add more flavour to the song. Also, no way is this a title track- promo wise and production wise.
Anyways I think I like Closer To You the most out of all “title tracks”. Let’s see what July 22 brings us. I am interested in a few side tracks as well.
My expectations are about as low as they can be, but that’s all due to personal taste rather than the capabilities of Chanyeol and Sehun.
But as a fan of EXO’s music since debut, I hate to see the group dissolve into solo/sub-unit projects devoted to generic balladry, hip-hop and r&b. Who’s going to take up EXO’s more performance-oriented sound?
Frankly, probably no one. I dont think SM will push for another performance oriented solo idol under them as long as Taemin exists. Suho said something about an EXO album before the end of the year, so the remaining 6 members might work together for a more “KPOP” album under SM than their solo projects which were mainly directed with different producers.
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I firmly believe Chanyeol doesn’t lack in his vocal skills. Songs fitting his vocal types are actually not composed as much. I urge upon all to check out some of Chanyeol’s covers. Especially the one where he covered ‘All of me’. I started stanning Chanyeol just after listening to that. And in the case of Sehun, he did a wonderful job with his vocals considering the fact that maybe he is not given that much vocal training just like the rest of the main vocals. And regarding the song, the whole concept of the song is very unique and beautiful. Lastly, I think this song is a very beautiful song with soothing music and unique lyrics and concept. I wish more people acknowledged this song.