My Favorite J-pop: The Rampage from Exile Tribe

The Rampage
With such a busy slate of K-pop releases, I don’t always have a chance to rave about some of my favorite J-pop. This week, I’ll be giving an overview of some of my favorite acts and songs. Hopefully you’ll find a new obsession to add to your playlist!

Why I Love The Rampage (and you should too)

They’re badass. Seriously, they’re a veritable army of performers – 13 dancers and 3 vocalists to be exact. Their music combines anthemic rock with hard-hitting hip-hop, blazing techno and retro funk. I love the members’ vocal tones, but in particular I think the group’s center Kawamura Kazuma is one of the most talented, charismatic J-pop performers out there. His rich tone is equally captivating whether he’s singing or rapping.

The group’s music is immensely satisfying. The first few years of their discography hold the vast majority of my favorite Rampage songs, but the guys are still going strong today. In fact, they released my favorite J-pop song of October. For K-pop fans, you’ll recognize many of the same tropes familiar to the Korean idol industry, but arguably performed with more panache.

And what’s “Exile Tribe”?

Think NCT — at least how NCT was conceptualized when they first launched. Exile Tribe consists of its flagship group Exile, who have been around since 2001 in various iterations, and a bunch of groups under the Exile umbrella that each have their own sound and specialty. Some members are active in both Exile and a spin-off group and they often combine forces for some really cool music and performance spectacles.

My Top Five Singles

5. Dirty Disco (2017)

Dirty Disco is my favorite of the group’s lighter singles — an ebullient blast of retro funk. (full song)
Rating: 9.25

4. 100 Degrees (2017)

A pitch-perfect interpolation of 90’s west coast hip-hop. They find a killer groove and work the hell out of it. (full song)
Rating: 9.5

3. Hard Hit (2018)

Fueled by a thundering beat, Hard Hit is the literal sound of a group throwing down the gauntlet. (full song)
Rating: 9.5

2. Fullmetal Trigger (2019)

The combination of soaring vocals, sharp rap and headbanging guitar during the chorus is perfection. This one hits like a ton of bricks. It gets better with every play.
Rating: 10

1. Swag & Pride (2019)

A hulking rock attack, filled with potent melodies, blistering energy and powerful performances. It’s the song that turned me from a casual fan of all things Exile to a full-on convert.
Rating: 10

My Top Five B-Sides

5. Down By Law (2019)

Down By Law is pure, sugary funk pop and I love every second of its upbeat grooves and shiny hooks.
Rating: 9

4. Summer Days (2019)

A breezy house dance track with just enough of that Rampage punch to give it some oomph. As you may have guessed, it’s perfect for summer.
Rating: 9

3. Elevation (2017)

You’ll notice a theme in my top three. Though they’ve yet to release a single in this genre, I’m obsessed with The Rampage’s take on ravey techno.
Rating: 9.5

2. Dream On (2018)

Just listen to that glistening synth arpeggio that opens the track! I mean, really soak in how transcendent that sound is. What a shot of adrenaline.
Rating: 9.5

1. Jump (2022)

Van Halen’s Jump is already one of my favorite songs. The fact The Rampage repackaged it as a hyper pop rave gains my eternal gratitude and admiration. (full review)
Rating: 10


12 thoughts on “My Favorite J-pop: The Rampage from Exile Tribe

  1. I freakin LOVEEEEEEE Rampage, I honestly think they’re the best active boy group in Asia, and one of the best boy groups anywhere. Really wish I could go to their concert. I can’t just name 5 of my top singles, so:

    1. Fandango – the groove is just sooooo sticky
    2. Swag and Pride – the rock sound is too fun
    3. Dirty Disco – love their take on the funk genre
    4. Invisible Love – the production work on this song is insane
    5. Hard Hit – my first song I heard from them, made for a very powerful introduction
    6. 100 Degrees – like you said, a great piece of throwback hip hop
    7. Fears – I love the intense atmosphere and how they pulled off the midtempo sound

    As for my favorite b-sides
    Dream On
    Down By Law
    The Typhoon Eye
    Breaking the Ice
    Fired Up (shocked these last three didn’t get a place!)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m surprised you were able to pick favorites lol. I’ve got too many to even start listing them out. While they’re not not my favorite Exile group. They’re my 2nd favorite and I think they’re super awesome


  3. swag & pride and fullmetal trigger are some great masterpieces, 10/10 deserved

    anyway fuck the heartstopper fandom for forcing kit connor to come out as bi

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You are so obsessed with Kpop why do you even listen to Jpop when you cant even talk about Jpop without constanly having to bring up Kpop, compare Kpop and Jpop. LDH doesnt use Kpop tropes, KPop isnt that unique. LDH just sounds very american.If you think Kpop is so superior that everything in Jpop is inspired by it why do you even listen to Jpop


    • Since this is a K-pop blog, I’m trying to introduce J-pop to a K-pop audience. Thus, I’m making connections that will hopefully resonate and give an entry point that makes sense. It’s a specific choice for my audience, and has nothing to do with how much I like or dislike either industry. You’re assuming a lot about me.

      And why are you so hostile, Barbara? Seriously, take it down a notch. I’ve actually spent hours working on these posts because I love these artists so much. If you don’t like the way I’m approaching them, kindly move along.

      Liked by 3 people

    • Because it’s his blog and he can hear and write of whoever he wants to, and just like that you have the choice to not read any of this and save yourself the trouble of getting angry by some innocent and really good music recommendations 🙂


  5. The Rampage never disappoints. I know these songs may not have a high score on your list but I like to add Lighting, Ray of light, Step up, Fandango, Frontiers and No limit I’m such a sucker for these songs sorrynotsorry 😀


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.