Though fans had to suffer through a long hiatus as he found his footing with a new agency, B.I has been prolific this year. Back in March, he released his debut solo single. That was followed by a pre-release last month, and now a full album. I suppose this is one of the benefits of being a creative powerhouse. Free from the constraints of the idol world, he’s able to churn out the music he wants to make, as often as he wants to make it.
As the force behind iKON’s pre-2020 singles, B.I’s solo work echoes many of the sounds he’d established with his former group. illa illa (해변) boasts the sing-song melody of tracks like Love Scenario, laid over a minimalist trap beat and moody keys. It’s an expected arrangement, but works well with B.I’s emotive voice. He gives a laidback performance, perched halfway between rap and singing. The style suits illa illa’s languid sound.
Though this isn’t the kind of showstopper I usually prefer, I think the song achieves its aim. The filtered chorus is particularly appealing, given just enough vocal effects to add texture. It sounds like summer, but in a subdued way. illa illa gains energy during its climax, when a chanted hook competes with its swirling centerpiece. This keeps the track from growing stale, even if its inclusion conforms to many of the tropes favored by B.I’s former agency. As much as I complain about trap breakdowns in K-pop tracks, I think the genre has its place. Songs like this and Jay B’s Switch It Up succeed on the strength of their musical continuity. Instead of trying to do too much, they find a beguiling hook and let it breathe.