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Zico 'Thinking Pt. 1' Album Review

· Z

For Zico's listeners, this was more than an album. This was the start of a new era. As he left his group Block B to make it as a soloist (and company CEO) this was his chance to show his true self to the world. The Zico many think of is fierce, trendy, a perfect example of your badass hip-hop persona. The Zico revealed in these 5 tracks is at times angry, at times soft, often wacky and above all human. Then again, as much as he insists he's being 'real', these catchy bops are far from indie. Who cares? You won't regret hearing them.

Each note of Daredevil is like a domino in a chain - they're perfectly balanced, but when you let them, they can cause chaos. This upbeat groove cares what you think of it as little as its vividly unique singers. A slick Kpop pro, an autotuned bad girl and a hip-hop legend sporting a shaved head. Where else could these three wildly different personalities meet than in a song as fluid and original as this one? Through Zico's mastery, their differences power each other to create a hyper-cool storm of a song. Jvckie Wai shines particularly in this track. It's inspiring how she raps as herself without worrying about people's expectations. And if you don't get she's 'blessed' by the 8th time she says it, Yummda soon reminds you.

In Actually, Zico begs a mysterious girl to end it with a guy who doesn't appreciate her. Sound familiar, G Dragon 'That XX' lovers? What I'd expect to be whiney and more than a little depressing is a fun, melodious and easy-listening song you get attached to immediately. Though I know these stories are often made up, Zico's unusual lyrics are unsettlingly realistic. So much so that you this real?

"Don’t even bother checking your texts

He’s definitely playing online games"

"The tracks on his SoundCloud

The channels he subscribes on YouTube

This match won’t last long"

It's hard making up a story. But the hardest thing of all is writing your own, as Zico does in Human. At times with nothing but an acoustic guitar and his own soft voice, Zico writes a story that's so raw that hearing it almost feels invasive. Flawlessly switching between his soft voice and expert rap, he speaks in mellow tones of his human experience. The song isn't just sweet enough to lull you to sleep, though. In the lyrics that are the opposite of cliche, he says things we can all identify with.

"Without my skipped birthdays I’m still in my teens

As I grow old, I'm afraid of imagination

A slide starts to look like a hill"

"I'm suspicious about strange acts of kindness

An obvious comfort lets me down more"

In Extreme, the vulnerable 'normal guy' image is thrown out the window. In this track, Zico reminds you he was so good at rap, he JUDGED Show Me the Money. Extreme's beat alone is frightening. It's based on one simple riff that carries on as the song gets wilder and wilder, never pausing for you to catch up. That's a lot like Zico's rap, as he flies through cutting rhythms with mind-blowing expertise. With rhythms that cutting, it's no surprise his lyrics are as tight as always. They're like an anti-cliché force - he always finds a new and more powerful way of expressing the phrase 'I'm living my best life'.

"I was like a loach

Now I eat the pyramid of the food chain

Like a piece of cake and burp loudly"

On the surface, One Man Show seems the calm outro we were all expecting. But its true self - a beautifully mature, twistingly sad un-ballad is so much better. Zico has a newly appearing talent for communicating vivid emotion and this comes through as he shows the frustration of someone who wants more than a casual relationship and wonders what could have been if they'd met differently. Sik.k's rough, deep voice is perfect to show these feelings. If you've heard his other music, you'll likely be surprised at the depth of melancholy he achieves here in comparison to the more casual songs that make up his discography.

This album fully satisfied expectations, and that's saying something. Sure, each song has such a different theme they're more like singles, but I'd take variety over monotony any day.

Kpop Review Café's Overall Ranking: 6/10

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Written by Krystal