Fling Posse VS Matenrou (review)

Tough match-up between Fling Posse and Matenro. Hypnosis Mic‘s most popular and best selling crews gave their all with crafty punchlines, groovy melodies and powerful performances. Get a taste of the contrasting grittiness of Shinjuku and the liveliness of Shibuya with this imposing release.

Battle Season” will have all 4 crews facing off in a series in which fans’ votes are important to beat their opponents in order to advance to the next stage for a shot at being named “King“.

Title: Fling Posse VS Matenro
Label: EVIL LINE RECORDS (King Records)
Release date: 18/07/2018
Genre: Rap/Hip-Hop

Tracklist:

1 - BATTLE BATTLE BATTLE [Fling Posse VS Matenro]
2 - Shibuya Marble Texture -PCCS- [Fling Posse]
3 - Shinjuku Style~笑わすな~ [Matenro]
4 - Drama Track『Know Your Enemy side F.P VS M』 
5 - Drama Track『Just A Friend』

Track by track analysis:

1 – BATTLE BATTLE BATTLE

BATTLE BATTLE BATTLE” blends hip-hop with traditional Japanese music and rock, making this track stand out with its dark and powerful vibe. The instrumental relies heavily on the traditional koto melody, dark synths, choir, hard-hitting bassy beats and melodic guitar riffs to create this imposing instrumental, befitting of both crews.

Major kudos to Kento Ito (as Doppo) for his top tier performance. Surprisingly he was chosen to be the first one to perform this song – usually is the second or last within Matenro -. Once again he proved that he’s one of the best rappers in the Hypnosis Mic and Matenro’s diamond. His rap and punchlines lit up this song and set up the stage for the other powerful match-ups. Expect his trademark screams to appear by the end of the track. Yukihiro Nozuyama (as Dice) didn’t fell behind with an aggressive solo performance. When it comes to match-ups it needs to be mentioned that the best one is by far the one between Hifumi (Ryuichi Kijima) and Gentaro (Soma Saito). Things got interesting with both crew’s smooth operators on the mic. Hifumi brought to the table Gentaro’s Meiji era speech/way of life and Gentaro’s criticized the lack of common sense and knowledge in Hifumi, all through crafty punchlines and powerful deliveries. Also kudos to Soma Saito went all out and was able to match Kijima‘s always exciting and powerful rap, kicking off his solo rap part in a mocking tone, bringing Gentaro’s alluring “It’s a lie” catchphrase and exploding in the second part of his performance, showing a completely different side to Gentaro’s usually calm and cool rap.

When it came to the leaders’ face-off, Show Hayami won it by a landslide. His groove and punchlines put everyone on their place. Yusuke Shirai brought Ramunda’s cutesy sharp tongued rap to the table, however, it didn’t make much of a dent on Jakurai’s imposing performance.

BATTLE BATTLE BATTLE” has a groovy dark beat, plenty of crafty punchlines and highlights, interesting match-ups, matching the quality of “WAR WAR WAR“, song part of Buster Bros!!! and MAD TRIGGER CREW‘s battle but with more exciting match-ups. Top marks. 5/5

2 – Shibuya Marble Texture -PCCS-

Shibuya Marble Texture -PCCS- brings a playful maturity to the table through its tasteful mix of Jazz, pop and hip-hop. From the most noticeable instruments to the little details, this song exudes a playful maturity that is unique to Fling Posse. This instrumental is one of the most intricate despite not sounding like it. On a first listen this song will maybe sound like a simple loungy tune with a jazz undertone and some hip-hop elements on it. However, what we find with this song is one of the richest instrumentals among all songs released so far in the Hypnosis Mic franchise. Simple, snary drums set this song to a comfortable mid-tempo, all while minimalistic synths and jazzy piano melodies create a unique tone for this song. The little details in this instrumental are tasteful, bringing pizzicato strings, trumpets, sax, vibes and sampled drums to create this vibrant jazz-hop instrumental.

When it comes to vocal department for this song, we need to split the analysis into two things: singing and rapping. Fling Posse put an emphasis on singing the choruses, giving a more refined and, at the same time, relaxed touch to the song. The singing sections are set on a rather high key, following Shirai and Saito’s higher-toned vocals. Nozuyama got to show a different charm of his, challenging singing and harmonizing surprisingly well with his fellow members in the chorus.

At first, I wasn’t sure if the mix of Shirai’s “cutesy”/high pitched rap would even work with Nozuyama’s raspy aggressiveness and Saito’s oddly alluring slow paced rap. Among all crews in the Hypnosis Mic franchise, Fling Posse have the most eclectic lineup, one filled with distinctive quirks and polarizing approaches to rap. Even worse (or better depending on the perspective), all their solo songs released back in December had nothing in common between themselves, making some people doubt Fling Posse’s worth and appeal in the middle of all those aggressive rap crews. So how would Fling Posse work as a crew when everything about them is unique? How to make people fancy them? That was the major question in my head when the Battle season series was first announced. However, when you listen to this song and as the song progresses and the individual rap parts kick in, you get the strange feeling that despite all those differences between them, this crew actually sounds great together. Fling Posse‘s rap is filled with life and is a breather in the middle of 3 “tough” sounding rap crews. Fling Posse went for a top performance as trendy and unique as the district itself. The best song on this release. 5/5

3 – Shinjuku Style~warawasu na~

People seem to have incredibly high expectations for Matenro‘s performances, especially now that their popularity has skyrocketed – overthrowing Fling Posse‘s reign as the most popular Hypnosis Mic crew. Usually, when expectations are too high, there’s a high probability that the thing you’re expecting won’t meet your expectations. That’s exactly what happens with Matenro‘s “Shinjuku Style~warawasu na~” (from now on will be mentioned as “Shinjuku Style”). Dirty guitar licks, a thunderous bass line and hard-hitting snary drums create the dark instrumental for this song, putting Shinjuku’s tough and gritty vibe stand out. All seemed to go well until we reached the chorus.

No matter how you want to put it, the chorus is a blatant copy of Limp Bizkit’s “Nookie”, with minimal changes in key and tempo (however the melody and progression is a carbon copy). If you can stop what you’re doing and listen for yourself to both songs, especially the choruses. Then come back to this review. You can overlap both “Shinjuku Style” and “Nookie” in the chorus and they match perfectly. Upon noticing this, it’s difficult to analyze this song and not draw parallels with the original piece. Looking at the credits on the album, there’s no mention on the original song being sampled by Ando Kensaku (noTOKYO) and hatch (Mellow Monk Connection) – this song’s composers – so this might pose some plagiarism issues if word on it reaches the original composers.

Possible plagiarism issues aside, the instrumental is dark and imposing, introducing everyone on this franchise to the late 90’s/early 00’s rap-rock sound, the kind that best fits the crew’s dark vibe. But not everything on this song is heavy, an ethereal washy synth pad and haunting vox fx added an eerie dimension to this instrumental.

Now, onto the rap performances. Show Hayami (as Jakurai) continues to be a force to be reckoned with. His flow is among the best in the franchise and his punchlines are always a treat. Ryuichi Kijima‘s rap although good was far from being his best, lacking most of the groove he brought to the table for “Champagne Gold” or even the power and wittiness he brought with “BATTLE BATTLE BATTLE“. Expectations were high for Doppo’s (Kento Ito) rap however, what we got was something below his usual quality. Everything about his rap was ruined with excessive use of auto-tune. That alone will put off some people from his performance. When it comes to clean rap parts, he’s got very few and far from memorable. Putting the crew’s best rapper performing like a machine might be an allegory to Doppo’s critic of the work system/rules and the sort in Japan, however it felt and sounded excessive. Unfortunately, excessive auto-tune and a plagiarized chorus were enough to stain Matenro’s flawless repertoire. 4/5

Final rating:

Fling Posse VS Matenro put in the same place two of the most popular and unique crews in the Hypnosis Mic franchise.

BATTLE BATTLE BATTLE” is filled of highlights. The match-ups were interesting, with both crews exchanging threats through crafty punchlines and flowy rap lines. The instrumental brought traditional elements to the mix, elements that fit well with both crews. The aggressiveness that we had encountered on Buster Bros!!! and MAD TRIGGER CREW‘s “WAR WAR WAR” was toned down a bit for this song but not completely put aside. Guitar licks and hard-hitting beats made sure this song packed a punch. Kudos to Kento Ito (Matenro), Soma Saito (Fling Posse) and Ryuichi Kijima (Matenro) that delivered the best performances, filled with groovy rap, strong punchlines,  overall representing well their colors.

Creativity overflows in Shibuya and Fling Posse wanted to put across that message with their performance of Shibuya Marble Texture -PCCS-. The lyrics put emphasis on how original and lively this city is. Shibuya has a vibrancy of itself, a color the sets itself apart from all other Tokyo wards, whether it’s for its fashion, the emphasis of being original and trendy in everything, the entertainment, street art, shopping or just the fact that it’s one of the favorite places for youths to socialize. In result, Fling Posse brought to the table a playful maturity through its tasteful mix of Jazz, pop and hip-hop, while singing and rapping in fancy fashion.  Shibuya Marble Texture -PCCS- easily shares the title of best division song in the Battle Series with MAD TRIGGER CREW‘s “Yokohama Walker“. If anyone had doubts on Fling Posse‘s appeal, a quick listen to this song is enough to make those go away. They are great singers, crafty rappers and their sound is the freshest among all crews that are too focused on sounding tough.

Shinjuku’s gritty work and red-light entertainment filled district demanded a strong performance with a daring instrumental. Shinjuku Style~warawasu na~ had everything to be a great representative song if: the chorus wasn’t blatant copy of Limp Bizkit’s “Nookie” and Doppo’s rap wasn’t as auto-tuned as it is. Those issues hindered the overall enjoyment of the song, even if the instrumental (minus the chorus) had an imposing vibe that impressed on a first listen. Contrary to Fling Posse, our expectations were incredibly high for Matenro and, unfortunately, were not met.

After listening to both crews’ performances it’s safe to say that Fling Posse take the win to themselves but not without a fight. However, with Matenro‘s newfound popularity, it’ll be rather difficult for Shibuya to turn things around and somehow win this battle and advance to the final battle.

As a whole, Fling Posse VS Matenro is a groovy release that, although not perfect, is filled with highlights – from instrumentals to rap performances – and certainly had us begging for more.

Fling Posse VS Matenro is available for purchase on CDJAPAN.

Fling Posse VS Matenro / Fling Posse . Matenro
Fling Posse . Matenro
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