MUNEHIRO - Up and Coming

review - 08.23.2007 08:00

Dancehall/reggae artist MUNEHIRO proves she'll be the next big thing

The title of MUNEHIRO's second album, Up and Coming, seems to point to the status of MUNEHIRO's career at the time of its release in 2006. Her success was growing and the new album was the much anticipated follow up to her previous album, DRAMA -11 STORIES-.

The album starts off with an intro, simply titled INTRO. It's a short instrumental piece and invokes images of the old Middle East. The cascade of strings and rhythmic gasping creates a slow, smoky atmosphere and it's regrettable that the intro is only thirty seconds long and that this style isn't heard again in the album.

From the mysterious intro we launch into SHAKE!, an upbeat dancehall song which really invites you to jump up and shake whatever body part you’d like. The repetition of the line "hey, hey, hey" is shouted in the chorus and adds to the party spirit of the song.

The second track, 55!!, is unexpectedly rock'n'roll. Mixed with a dancehall beat it proves to be a really great combination, easy to dance to and sweet on the ears. Next up is Japanese, which also has a happy, festive spirit. It’s a quick reggae song with little shouts of "Nippon, Nippon!" peppered throughout. Danceable and fun, it’s obvious why this song was picked to be made into a PV and it's now one of MUNEHIRO's best known songs.

The next song, BURN BABYLON, is a short one. It's fast paced with a steady soca-like beat that urges it on, and with such a title the song has a rather threatening edge. MUNEHIRO's vocals fall at an odd range somewhere between talking, rapping and full out singing. The low pitched voice adds to the urgency of the song, never allowing it to slow down.

However, WOMAN is a slow reggae song. It starts off with an organ and piano creating the characteristic reggae groove. The song, particularly the chorus, seems sad, yet it's very catchy. The next song, RUN AWAY, is a collaboration with the singer KEN-U. It's a groovy soca song with a nice rhythm and is suitable to dance to, though not quite the highlight of the album.

Next up is VENGA, another collaboration, this time with LOS KALIBRES. One of the MCs had made an appearance before on a song from MUNEHIRO's first album and just like last time, LOS KALIBRES' influence shows. Because of this the song seems lacking in originality and it doesn't reflect MUNEHIRO's style at all. VENGA gets rather repetitive and at some points is just boring, so it might be a track to skip. However, the next track isn't much better. It's not a song but more a live introduction. The MC TELA-C of INFINITY16 is responsible for this track, which consists of about a minute of dialogue.

Following that is the final collaboration piece on the album, done with the musician KENTY-GROSS. Bakuon Syndrome has an amusing chorus in which both of them scat. It doesn't make much sense, though it's kind of funny. The song uses mostly percussion to generate the moderately paced background beat.

DANCE★DANCE★DANCE takes you immediately to a tropical island with its Caribbean vibe and rhythm. It's a light, easy and carefree song with a quirky beat and sporadic trumpet playing. It certainly makes you want to dance and it's such a simple, silly tune that everyone, no matter how young or old, can bop along to the beat.

The title of the next song, DANCEHALL LOVER might make you think that it's going to be an upbeat party song to celebrate one's love for dancehall music but instead, it's a love ballad. Still done in dancehall fashion, it's ultimately a unique take on the style and is probably one of the best songs on the album. Following in the same fashion but having more of a reggae influence instead is Futari no Uta. This 'song for two' is a beautiful love song, slow and romantic.

The album ends with OUTRO, a short piece with MUNEHIRO speaking and the instruments creating a dreamy atmosphere. There is a bonus track included on the album: a remix of Japanese. Unfortunately, the remix doesn't do the song much justice and falls a bit flat.

MUNEHIRO shows her talents and growth in musical style once again with this album. Although it's a common thing for dancehall/reggae artists to do collaborations with other artists, it seems she would be better off by herself sa her own uniqueness is enough to carry an album. Hopefully MUNEHIRO's next release will reflect this, and with her constantly improving we can be sure to expect something really great from her!
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