Up until today, I’ve kept hush-hush about B.A.P and the hype that’s been surrounding them from day one. I mean, why would I have jumped on a rookie’s bandwagon before they’ve debuted when I hadn’t even listened to their music yet? That’s just not how I tend to roll, plus the fact that the overwhelming hype cloud kept getting so damn thick, that it actually pushed me further toward skepticism more than anything.
Last week though, B.A.P finally released their highly anticipated debut mini-album, “Warrior“, and I just had to let out a sigh of relief because I finally had the opportunity to discover what B.A.P is, what it represents, and how much of it I would truly enjoy.
Save for maybe the fact that all of the members are blonde, and thus indistinguishable to my eyes at the moment, I think the entire B.A.P package is solid gold. There is a lot more than just good music happening here. To me, “Warrior” is a moment of adrenaline, thrill, brutality, and sheer passion. Just as a personal point, I get the most excited about music when I can sense an artist’s sincere devotion to what they do, and while this EP derives from a rookie group, B.A.P executed it to near perfection.
It’s worth noting though that nothing here is particularly new. The musical direction rings very familiar to last year’s Block B and even farther back to Big Bang. Having said that, B.A.P have done an exemplary job of bridging the pop and hip-hop style and making it their own. TS Entertainment(Secret) is clearly grinding for the success of B.A.P, and they’re utilizing all their resources to make that happen. They’ve laid it all out for B.A.P: impressive songs, stellar production value, and eye-catching aesthetics. The whole thing is working in unison, and the fact that the masses are reacting to it in the way that they are (hysterical deaths/uncalmed titties) is indicative of the powerful effect of TSE and B.A.P’s focus on the bigger picture – to demolish your minds in the most epic fashion.
To me, B.A.P’s debut EP is one giant hype song. It’s a bold audio statement while being an extremely brave move for a rookie. They’ve essentially come out swinging, and one of the last times that I can remember hearing such fury from a rookie was 2NE1 back in 2009.
In many ways, 2NE1 and B.A.P’s entrances into K-pop feel incredibly similar. Both dropped aggressive debut singles that were less “lead single” material and more hype songs that were made to get everybody excited as fuck. I know I’ve come to adore 2NE1′s “Fire“, but even I have to admit that it is all over the fucking place for a single. Well, so is B.A.P’s “Warrior”.
If I’m listening to it critically, the instrumental of “Warrior” is definitely out of balance with the vocals and the structure of the song, and I think you and I could argue over the existence of an actual chorus. Like, are you really going to sit there and tell me that all this yelling is supposed to be taken as a chorus? Get outta here. However, the main selling point of these types of “hype songs” is not exactly their musical value, but rather they’re meant to be an experience.
Once you have watched B.A.P perform the hell out of “Warrior”, it’s as if all logic flies out of the window. There is just no question that “Warrior” was meant for the stage, because if done right it takes on a whole life of its own, and once that visual ecstasy gets embedded in your mind (as is done with every 2NE1 single), you’ll hear it in a whole different way.
Let me feed that visual to you right now:
*Packs Bags And Goes Home*
To think that B.A.P has more to offer than “Warrior” is crazy, but they do. In fact, I’d argue that the rest of this EP showcases even stronger assets than you would imagine.
For starters, B.A.P has some solid vocalists in its midst. Not particularly impressive per se, but their singing is smooth and effective next to the rappers of the group, who inadvertently dominate the tone of this EP. That’s pretty much all that can be said about the vocalists in B.A.P, as it seems to me that they’re aiming more for a bold pop/hip-hop style, where rap is a commonality and vocals are piped in as hooks and feature pieces.
“Unbreakable“, the third song on “Warrior”, is a favorite because it does the best job of balancing this rap to vocals ratio. It’s an intense mid-tempo, filled with urban nuances, gritty synths and those very “stomp the yard” vibes in the drum kit. The song has a lot of punch, but it doesn’t come off like it wants to slit you at your fucking jugular. It’s a proper display of B.A.P’s boldness without overdoing the effects.
On the other end, “Warrior” closes with the slowest song on the EP, “비밀연애 (Feat. Jieun Of Secret)”. I found it interesting that they decided to place “비밀연애” at the very end of the EP, only because it’s the one song that differs the most from the rest of the tracks. In a way it’s a hidden indicator of B.A.P’s capabilities as a boy band in K-pop. The song itself features a tame guitar riff layered underneath a bed of lush melodies. What? For a group out for blood, this minor moment strikes me as B.A.P’s effort to diversify their style beyond that aggressive first impression. It’s a good thing that B.A.P can stamp their asses off, but also calm the fuck down to churn out pleasant music that displays their talent in various hues and textures.
For a rookie group, I think B.A.P have nailed their debut. Literally crushed it when it comes to rookie debuts. What’s really working in their favor is the fact that they’ve stepped onto the scene with a very strong point of view. B.A.P is brave and ruthless, and you can definitely feel every ounce of that in every corner of this EP. But the most important takeaway from “Warrior” is that you can sense B.A.P’s thirst for success, and whether you’ve been captivated by B.A.P’s showcase or not, the air of tenacity in their music is strong and very much here to stay.
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