Japanese rappers are still trying to find just the right way to connect with the greater pop mainstream in 2019. The latest name to try their luck at this is MABU, a Tokyo-born performer who recently released his debut single “HOT365”. Watch the video below, which finds the artist sporting a really nice The Simpsons-themed denim jacket.
“HOT365” provides one path younger artists primarily drawn to rap could take for a bigger audience. That’s basically to coat the whole song in a candy-apple shell and make it sound pretty ready to go for the radio. This number finds MABU team up with veteran producer UTA — who boasts an impressive resume of artists worked with — and the pair create a sonic trampoline of synthesizers and machine beats. That backdrop draws from funk and dance-pop, an elastic setting that makes MABU’s sing-rap really move, and makes the pivot into a more traditionally sung hook. There’s also a breakdown featuring vocals being dunked in auto-tune while hi-hats skitter off, which is fine but feels a little superfluous on an otherwise tight hip-pop number.
This sleek cross of rap and pop has been the general approach to the genre by groups such as EXILE or the more recent BALLISTIK BOYZ. MABU is part of LDH (disclosure: LDH is also OTAQUEST’s parent company), and that management company oversees the aforementioned groups. MABU’s history extends far back with them too, as he started out as a backup dancer for artists such as EXILE’s Atsushi. He’s released his own EPs in recent years, and “HOT365” marks his first official release with LDH.
The field of rappers eyeing for bigger mainstream success grows on a daily basis. MABU, though, might offer up one of the better strategies to doing it. And, at the very least, he has the clothes to stand out from the pack.