You can say what you want about the music of Clown Prince of K-Hip-pop Psy, but you kind of have to be personally miserable to actually hate him. The happiness that he exudes on stage and in his videos seems to infect his music to a degree that it, even if you aren’t a fan (I, before today, haven’t liked a non-feature from him since Paradise), you can absolutely understand why other people are.
But there might be a lot more fans on the horizon because the 8th album from the rapper is good.
The lyrical cohesion on the two debut releases, I Luv It and New Face, is heard throughout as the veteran rapper embrace his quadragenarian status with a sense of humor that tells a broader, real story of who he is as a person; a man who has taken his lumps and keeps coming back for more with a smile and a cheeky attitude but is not afraid to tell you exactly what he thinks. He has no problems keeping up with the younger artists who feature on this set and, in a couple of cases, show them up by adapting to a more modern style of rap than we have come to expect from him (the fact that he has the entire first verse of Fact Abuse and it doesn’t falter in the least is great). The production is varied and, thankful, steps away from the brash EDM that populated his last few projects for something that integrates it subtly or forgoes it altogether for something entirely different.
The thing about this album is that it reflects so much about what a lot of liked about Psy before Gangnam Style. He’s always had a penchant for dance music, but he had a wider breadth than that briefly disappeared as he gained worldwide prominence. In a way, this is going back to basics for him and it’s not a bad place for him to be. It was that Psy that wrote and produced for YG Entertainment for years and help guide the talents of it up-and-coming stars, being a large part of the label’s golden age. He’s never been one-note caricature and it’s nice that he’s stopped portray himself so much as that.
Our favorite tracks are I Luv It, Bomb, Fact Abuse, and Auto Reverse. The most skippable tracks are Place To Lean On and We Are Young as they are generic in terms of production slow down the project in a way that the slow songs did not.