PSY’s new P Nation music label has been the source of much speculation this year. K-pop hasn’t seen this high profile an agency launch in years, and with YG Entertainment plagued by scandal after scandal, the timing is perfect for a new force in the industry. Add big-name stars like HyunA, E’Dawn, Jessi, Crush and of course PSY himself, and you’ve a lot to look forward to.
It seems as though P Nation was meant to launch with the release of PSY’s newest album, but that project has been postponed. So rather than open with a bang, the label’s first official release is a barely-promoted digital single by r&b crooner Crush. Now, Crush is hardly an unknown figure, but his music doesn’t strike me as the kind of impactful, big-budget fare that a more traditional K-pop agency might use to stake their claim in a crowded marketplace.
Like most of Crush’s work, Nappa (나빠) is more about tone and vibe than meticulous songcraft. It’s as pleasant as always, but not different enough from his past few singles. Crush’s melodies tend to bleed at the edges, nonchalant and somewhat ambiguous. In many ways, this is classic r&b. Performers like him naturally seek a showcase for a free-form vocal style. Their voice becomes another instrument in the mix, not always beholden to a song’s lockstep structure. But, as someone who loves nothing more than a sharply constructed pop song, Nappa leaves me mostly cold. Over a murky blend of jazz-infused hip-hop and trap, Crush riffs on the track’s titular hook, playing it loose while occasionally winding back to addictive peaks of falsetto. I can definitely vibe to this, but who has time to vibe when there are so many more engaging tracks being released each and every week?
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