Review | Matenro “Matenro Before The 2nd D.R.B”

Matenro not only explored different sonorities, but dove deeper into each character’s lives and motivations, revealing unique takes on their hip-hop sound on Matenro Before The 2nd D.R.B.

Matenro Hypnosis Mic -D.R.B-

Title: 麻天狼-Before The 2nd D.R.B-
Label: EVIL LINE RECORDS (King Records)
Release date: 25/03/2020
Genre: Rap/Hip-Hop/Pop

Tracklist:

1. 君あり故に我あり (Jakurai Jinguji solo  CV: Show Hayami)
2. BLACK OR WHITE (Doppo Kannonzaka solo CV: Kento Ito)
3. パーティーを止めないで (Hifumi Izanami solo CV: Ryuichi Kijima)
4. Drama Track(TBD)

Track by track analysis:

1. 君あり故に我あり

In a surprising turn of events, Jakurai Jinguji‘s dramatic, cold and clinical sound, turns into a hopeful, soulful tune ready to warm you up.

Kimi ari yue ni Waga ari brings out a nostalgic rhodes piano, soulful guitar riffs, slow paced drums and an emotional gospel choir, to create a unique rap-soul piece, a first in the Hypnosis Mic franchise.

This song exudes a warm and inspiring vibe, shining a completely different light over Jakurai Jinguji‘s up until now trademark dramatic, cold and clinical sound and rap.

What we get with this song is a hopeful, soulful tune ready to warm us up and guide us.

For this song Show Hayami put to great use his robust deep vocals, contributing heavily for the song’s warm, feel good vibe. It is as if he is lullabying the listener at the same time that we are enjoying the story being told to us.

Rapping this time around was more comfortable, with more breathing space available and a bigger focus put on impacting the listener through a melodic take on rap itself.

At the same time, and although it is not really all out, Hayami got to sing along in the chorus something that, alongside the gospel choir, made me wish this song to be longer.

Kimi ari yue ni Waga ari feels insanely good. 5/5

2. パーティーを止めないで

Exciting guitar riffs and a disco beat introduce us into what could have been a 90s eurobeat inspired tune. Party does not stop for Gigolo and you can really feel it with the adrenaline dripping from its high tension, fast paced eurobeat instrumental. This song is fast from the start

Everything about Party o Tomenaide is cheesy, that is a fact.

Aside from the whole boasting and apologizing for it, this song goes for the weirdest fusion of genres: rock, eurobeat, enka and pop, creating an equally cheesy instrumental.

Yet, strangely, this song sounds cool when it comes to a close and you finally have time to process everything that just happened in a blink of an eye.

The verses perfectly capture Gigolo‘s intensity and passion and the chorus is an explosion of energy and tension, all in the middle of the highly addictive chorus with a dated lead synth melody blasting in your ears as you jam to the simple beat.

By the time this song ends, you won’t want the party to end and thus, just like me, you’ll hit the replay button. And have it playing in a loop for an hour or so – or when you feel completely drained out of your energy.

The singing for this song is rather quirky. Ryuichi Kijima has a touch of enka in his vocals in the first lines but soon evolves into an all out, dramatic and exaggerated take on 90s J-pop.

There are a couple of rap parts – unfortunately few – in this track that he tackles with speed and precision, matching the song’s high tension and intensity.

As a whole, Party o Tomenaide is a dangerous song, unique in the Hypnosis Mic franchise and cheesy enough to be an instant guilty pleasure even if this kind of music is not usually your cup of tea. Masterful performance. 5/5 

3. BLACK OR WHITE

Doppo‘s BLACK OR WHITE comes as an anticlimactic track, especially after Jakurai’s soulfulness and Gigolo’s maddening intensity.

A clap track, glitchy and gated synths and a deep bass drum-driven beat create a simple yet hard-hitting hip-hop track. The verses are short and straightforward, with a big focus made on the broken, glitchy vibe to enhance Doppo’s emotions on being a salaryman.

The chorus however, is slightly different and might even sound a bit out of place on a first listen. The transition from a slightly suffocating, broken beat into something big and bright with a gentle beat comes off as surprising yet, if you fear Doppo went full bright and peppy, rest assured, the chorus still preserves that broken vibe, even if slightly toned down.

Kento Ito‘s rapping is sharp and fast, putting weight on Doppo’s salaryman struggles. There is vocals manipulation taking the whole chorus, something that works rather well with the concept however it is far from pleasing and breaks immersion in the song. All in all a solid track but far from being Doppo’s best solo outing. 4/5 

Final rating: 4.5 stars

Matenro wanted to surprise their fans and that was exactly what they achieved with Matenro Before The 2nd D.R.B.

This is no simple release within the Hypnosis Mic franchise.

Rap and hip-hop are still a part of what they do but this time around it seems that there was a closer, more intimate look at each character and with that we got 3 completely distinct songs, going in the exactly opposite direction in which they initially went with Matenro – Onnin Rinsho – (a consistency in the sound and themes explored).

Jakurai got a soul-hop track, channeling a bright, warm, feel good vibe that we’d not normally associate to him or Matenro. It is a pleasant surprise that dives deeper into who he is and in what he believes. Short and sweet. Show Hayami got to showcase the warmth in his robust low register, something that, up until now, hadn’t happened. The performance left me wanting more, more of these kinds of soulful songs and getting to know more about the character itself.

Hifumi stole the show with Party o Tomenaide. It is not common to say this but I love how cheesy and straightforward this song is. This is Gigolo’s life and, from the song, it has plenty of fun and intensity in the mix. I might have picked on the “cheesiness” of the instrumental but truth is, the song is a banger. Also, it perfectly captures Hifumi’s essence. Ryuichi Kijima is a beast! From enka-ish vocals to fast paced rap and clean singing, he did it all and never missed a bit. He single-handedly delivered the most exciting performance in this release.

Doppo was the one that got to perform an all-out, hard-hitting rap song. BLACK OR WHITE illustrates the life of a Japanese salaryman and Doppo’s struggles in that life. It is a broken song that gets to you in the weirdest way possible, especially if you take into account that the instrumental is far from being the focus and Doppo’s best solo performance to date isn’t this one. Kento Ito went for a fast paced, probing performance with a lot of emotional weight into it. I believe the song could have worked better if not for the vocals manipulation in the chorus.

All in all, Matenro went all out to deliver a rather unique performance for their fans with Matenro Before The 2nd D.R.B. They pushed boundaries and brought soul and eurobeat to the franchise, exploring it in fancy ways while delivering memorable, tasteful and – at times – addictive performances.

Matenro Before The 2nd D.R.B is available for purchase on CDJAPAN.

Matenro Before The 2nd D.R.B is available for streaming on Spotify.

Do not support piracy. Remember to support this project by streaming via official outlets.

Author: Vanessa Silva (midorin)

The Hand That Feeds HQ founder and music reviewer writing about Japanese music since 2010. Metalhead. Gamer. Based in Cascais, Portugal. Mamoru Miyano's "Orpheus" was the catalyst to start writing about male seiyuu music.

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