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OKAY PLAYER.COM 4 STARRED REVIEW:
Japanese hip-hop. Kind of a hard term to take seriously, I know. But it’s time to. Kasumi might throw their rhymes back and forth between English and Japanese, but it’s done over quality beats and with superb flows that demand to be seen as the real thing.
Popping in the disc, I was a little worried at first. The album opener has a quick English introduction, but then starts up an incredibly fast, cheap, synthy-sounding beat, with MC Toshi’s Japanese dialect cartoonishly trying to keep up. But from there, Toshi, Yuta and American MC Pakman get down to business. The beats are impeccable, with just the right levels of soul-vocal samples, bass, and other atmospheric touches. There’s even a track based on Eric Clapton’s “Tears In Heaven,” flipped to a slow dedication to lost loved ones of the group.
What works with Kasumi is even though the language may be foreign at times; the music is what stands up. It just feels natural. Their flows, both Japanese and English, are more musical than anything and ride the beats like veterans’. Going into the project, Kasumi probably knew people would be judging them as the ultimate hip-hop outsiders. They exceed the challenge and prove that hip-hop does have real life in the East.
What happens when an independent hip hop artist from California teams up with two of the top lyricists in Japan? Good music. Kasumi has literally crossed the globe, collaborating with artists from America (D-12, styles of beyond,kurkid), to Thailand (Da Jim) to Japan (Nikka, O-Rionz).
The first single off their self titled debut “Music 4 Music,” sums it up nicely. “We all listen to all different types of music. Good music is good music. That’s why I came up with the motto ‘Music 4 Music’. We are just making this music because it’s what we love to do, and since more and more people are relating to it, all the better.”
Takbir (from Linkin Park’s new group Fort Minor) says about Kasumi, “As ironic as it sounds, these guys rapping in both Japanese and English just sounds like its supposed to be together. It just, meshes right.”
Kasumi also mixes many different elements into their music. “We work with a lot of different variations of our music and we experiment a lot” says Japanese member TOC. “If we are performing at a live house, we bring a band with us and have em’ jam instead of just putting on a CD. It gives it a more live and organic sound.”
Since all the members speak both English and Japanese, they bring a little something for everyone. “We have songs entirely in English, entirely in Japanese, and songs that are completely mixed. No matter where we are, we can rock a crowd.”