I often find it strange when bands claim that by singing in English they are able to convey a lot more to their audiences – that somehow it’s easier to express their thoughts in a second language. Though I’m completely ignorant in terms of how language works (talk to me a few minutes and you’ll get the idea), I still find this mindset baffling. Hip-hop on the other hand, is a genre that relies heavily on language and the use and manipulation of it. So it was refreshing to see ChaCha, the lovely singer and front women of AM444, sing and rap in her native tongue at Dos Kolegas last Friday – she finds an ease with it that is substantial to their sound.
Damn Gina! ChaCha really brings out the sexiness and tough-girl sass in the language – her delivery is sharp, tender when it needs to be, ferocious when opportunity knocks. While most of the ladies here in Beijing like to scream and rock out, with the occasionally heartbreak song, the Shanghai resident packs plenty of attitude, but maintains her effortlessly elegant and ethereal voice. In some regards I was reminded of M.I.A., albeit with a genuine singing voice (a part of me is also reminded of that old nineties group Cibo Matto as well). She can really stretch that voice – take another listen
Jay.Soul’s beats contains some really tasty bits of Jazz, Hip-Hop, Brazilian music, African Drumming, and Disco samples shimmered together in a big melting pot. Which yes basically is code for it’s chillllll.
This is the kinda music kids light up blunts to back home – perfect for those lawn chairs. Man nows has to groove with his bass as well. It’s a pretty irresistible duo in the end, a nice change of pace from the usual.
I’d figured ROM would just be a DJ set, and was prepared to call it a night, with a full days of work ahead of me, but from outside I swore I heard someone throwing down on a mic. Making my way back into 2K, I wondered into this…
Some people hate socially conscience rap; I can definitely see the reasons behind a statement like that, mostly the simple fact that no one wants to be preached to at a show. But for me, rap really shines when it’s guns are ablazin’, taking out targets left and right. Icenine of ROM was no exception, rapping over topical issues from big oil to religion to the encroachment of technology in our society – this was spitfire rapping. It’s angry for sure, but easy to relate to, and best of all, full of ideas.
As spoken by the man himself, he’s trying to ‘plant the seed of intellect’. I was often reminded of such acts like Immortal Technique, P.O.S, and early-era Atmosphere. Put that over some futuristic paranoid-laden beats and you got some worthy, dirty, underground rap. Visually, the show was a treat as well; blending images of authoritarian nature with sci-fi elements, it was very much in line with Hollywood’s version of the future in the 90s’ (anyone ever see Hackers?). It’s a shame I had to leave earlier as the ROM was taking things down a more sinister path I was curious to follow. I bet they put on hell of a show down under at The Shelter.
Props to JUE once again for bringing some genuine flavorful hip-hop to the our dusty capital. Check below for a video of AM444’s “失忆 (Shi Yi) ” and be sure to check out ROM’s album on bandcamp – it ain’t too shabby.