Thursday, November 1, 2012
REVIEW - AXIS - UNCIVILIZED
I pre-ordered AXIS's new album from JetSet Records and after it arrived I got sidetracked for a month and didn't get around to reviewing it. AXIS is a rapper on the LIBRA LTD label known for Japanese hip hop legends MSC aka Mic Space Crew and SHINGO NISHINARI as well as JUSWANNA and many great DJ. Anyway! Without further ado, on to the review!
1.Prologue - It's basically a good intro track that sounds like it could go in a action film, then AXIS just kills it with a freestyle session. It definitely sets up the rest of the album, especially the eerie demonic laughter. The beat is courtesy of DADDY VEDA a.k.a. REBEL BEATS (ILL EAST RECORDS).
2.WTF?! feat KM$,Blahrmy,MC漢 - WTF, perfect name for a song, no idea why it's the first, but props to AXIS for coming up with it. This track starts off with a very intense beat and kicks right into AXIS rapping quite furiously, like you can tell he's fucking pissed. After AXIS is done we find out the hook which is the best ever, seriously. "What the fuck man? What the fuck? What the fuck man? What the fuck man? What the fuck? What the fuck man? WHAT THE FUCK?!" is definitely a hook you'll be screaming along with.
Next on the track is a little well known (and it's a shame) rapper called KM$ from TBG aka Treasure Boat Gang who has a really different flow from anyone else I've heard and hope he does more stuff soon. I don't know how AXIS managed to do it, but he also got underground hip hop giants BLAHRMY (DLIP RECORDS) on the track and MILES WORD and SHEEF THE THIRD rap one after the other, both of them are completely different so it's no wonder they're such a cohesive group. The track ends with verses by living legend and one of the pioneers of Japanese hip hop from the famous crew MSC aka Mic Space Crew, MC KAN (漢) a.k.a. GAMI (MSC). This beat is courtesy of DJ MASH who is also on LIBRA LTD.
3. Story I: The MC (噺家) - This track has a very upbeat jazzy feel to it, courtesy of BAN from BEATSTATION and it's a track that took a little getting used to for me, AXIS's raw rapping skills really come through in this track. I do really like the piano and deep bass.
4. Interlude I - Like the title says, it's an interlude of a guy reporting on what I believe is a radio about something and his voice is very distorted and creepy laughter alternates throughout, it happens randomly so it'll actually make you flinch slightly.The beat is an old school almost jazzy-hip hop track that has jazz piano and your usual hip hop bass, overall to be an interlude it's pretty cool to listen to, honestly I'm not a fan of skits a lot of rappers put between their tracks, unless they're good like this of course.
The words are courtesy of MC NONKEY (LIFE EARTH), a great underground rapper that has found a lot of fame in the Ultimate MC Battle and the beat is courtesy of DJ MASH.
5.Story II: The Junkie (中毒者) - This song has a really almost electronic feel to it with the effects and a consistent rhythm that will make you move with it, at times by force. The track isn't very long, but it features a lot of good verses by AXIS and the beat is courtesy of BAN from BEATSTATION.
6.Story III: The Fallen (堕天使) - This song has a very almost , i don't know what you'd call it, samurai feel to it? It sounds perfect for a samurai film, an action one, not a period film. AXIS's flow is very raw and deep as fuck in this song and absolutely kills it, it's amazing how many vocal ranges he can rap in, quite frankly. This track is also courtesy of DADDY VEDA a.k.a. REBEL BEATS.
7.You (貴女) - This song is entirely in English and it's a very deep and emotional one. It's essentially him talking about his lover and he raps about how they'll have a better life and how he thought a lot of things that would have happened didn't and how he hates that he can't live up to what he believes are his expectations as a man. I don't cry often, but this song will make you nearly tear up if you have even a shred of emotion in your body. The beat is courtesy of Michita, who I wish I knew more about because the beat is so good.
8.Beat-muthaf☆ckin'-Takeshi!(この男、横暴につき) - This is a very heavy on the bass and acoustic guitar instrumental that is dedicated to the man himself, actor, director, Beat Takeshi (Takeshi Kitano). AXIS created this track himself and it's a really good instrumental, maybe he should produce more stuff in the future for other artists? I think so.
9.ArigatoZ (ありがとうZ) - This track has a very urban feel to it, like something you'd hear during a on foot chase scene in an action movie and is very jazz influenced and could probably double as a dance track, AXIS raps in Japanese while adding random English throughout, mostly insults, I have to say I blinked and had to rewind when it said "Fuck your couch". This track is also courtesy of BAN from BEATSTATION.
10.The Poetic License (詩的ライセンス) - This track starts off very orchestrated and I swear sounds like something I heard in a Yakuza film after everyone died (lol) . It's entirely in English and paints an amazing picture of Yakuza and gang activity in Japan, it's a shame it's so short, I'd love to hear a sequel. AXIS produced this track too, another good one.
11.Interlude II - This interlude is entirely Jazz music and it takes you back to the glory days of Jazz music, but soon it brings in more hip hop elements which connect well, it has a lot and I mean A LOT of voice clips of people saying fuck, fuck you, etc. It's really funny and I never realized how many movies say fuck, all american movies at that. This great little interlude is courtesy of DJ OLD FASHIONED.
12.REBEL MUSIC (反逆音楽) - I'm special so mine is #12 where as on all the other it's 13 and even 13 on the back and in the book, lucky me! Anyway, this track has a very militaristic feel to it, I mean it's called REBEL MUSIC after all and is about militaristic transgressions around the world, especially Afghanistan and Iraq as well as the horrible disaster in Japan last March. The beat is courtesy of DADDY VEDA a.k.a. REBEL BEATS.
13 Psychologically Challenged(精神的異常あり) feat.CRAZY-T - This song is so fucking epic and has an extremely upbeat and old school hip hop feel to it. The song features American born-Japanese imported rapper CRAZY-T (KIX ENT) and is entirely in English, both of their verses are in English and it's an epic lyrical onslaught. The beat is courtesy of BAN from BEATSTATION.
14 - Insight (着目点) feat.5IVE - This track has the most beautiful acoustic guitar, courtesy of Okayan (ONC) and features 5IVE (RC76) who I don't know a single thing about, but I wish I did because he has a very urban style to his flow, this entire song is in English and I'm glad, because this is one EVERYONE in the fucking world should hear! This song is what hip hop is really about in my opinion. It's about War, Peace, Politics, the rich, the poor, those in prison and has an amazing hook as well.
"It's for who we choose to love, who we choose to hate. It's for what we choose to learn, what we choose to escape.
It's for when we choose our sides, when we choose our debate.
It's for where we choose to shine, where we choose to relate.
It's for how we choose to learn, how we choose to strive.
It's for why we value our lives, why we write our rhymes.
It's for people incarcerated innocent of crimes, as a false "God" keeps pressing us for time."
This is definitely my favorite track because of it's epic subject, it's in English and it's a very relatable subject. The track is produced by AXIS and co-produced by Toma57move.
15. Shine - This track has a very older Japanese traditional music feel to it, like I wouldn't be surprised if this were shamisen being played and has a very heavy and powerful flow to it, at one point he even starts screaming. This track is produced by someone I've never heard of and it sucks that I have never heard of him, not the song itself, (lol) Akitaken db-Rock.
16.Interlude III: The Don of the New Era - A clever interlude that sounds like The Godfather meets hip hop. The beat is produced by AXIS himself.
17. No Doubt feat.道(TAO) - This track is definitely tied with Insight as my favorite, because AXIS and TAO (ILL EAST RECORDS) intertwine well and it's more English as well as more Jazzy influences including a saxaphone. The hook is another great one that I just have to put here.
"No doubt in my mind
I'm one of a kind
On my own time
On my own rhyme
It's been a long time
It's been a long climb
It's been a long grind
I never had a doubt in my mind"
Fucking epic. I've never heard TAO before and it's a shame because he has a strong, somewhat fast flow that has bits of English throughout that flow well with the Japanese. The beat is courtesy of (wow that's a long name) Filthy Royal Monster a.k.a. AZO BOOMBAYE.
18.Epilogue - This is like it says an epilogue, AXIS credits every single person who helped create this masterpiece of an album over another great Jazz track courtesy of DJ OLD FASHIONED.
AXIS came back after Unpopular didn't sell as well as he had hoped and was determined to outdo that album and he succeeded. Don't get me wrong, I love Unpopular, but UNCIVILIZED has more passsion, more intensity and amazingly produced tracks. When SHINGO NISHINARI's album Burenai came out earlier this year I said it was album of the year and I thought it was, but after hearing a mixtrack of all the songs on this album in samples on SoundCloud I started to have doubts and well I can safely say this being November, that UNCIVILIZED is the best Hip Hop album released this year in Japan and better than anything released in America this year, maybe Yasiin Bey (Mos Def) could have bypassed it, but he's busy with BLACK STAR.
AXIS fucking killed it on this album and it is the best hip hop album this year and I don't say that lightly, I'm a harsh critic. Go buy it. You wont regret it.
-Album of the Year-
I bought my copy through JetSet Records, but you can purchase it through HMV and you can buy the digital copy off of iTunes (US/JP). Sorry I got the last copy from JetSet Records ^^;