Checking in on the Dissolution of Genre in Japanese Music With Mom and nate


The 2010s — a great time for those hoping for the concept of genre to erode! While it would be a little over the top to pretend fences between different styles have vanished completely, they’ve definitely started to weaken more over the course of this decade. Vice shared a great essay today exploring the collapse of genre, and as end-of-decade-list season grows closer many of the points made here can carry over to Japanese music during this period. I’m not breaking any news when I point to artists such as WEDNESDAY CAMPANELLA or Haru Nemuri breaking down these barriers with what they do, and now even younger artists are popping up to show that this is only going to carry on moving into the 2020s.

One of the more intriguing genre-benders going right now is an artist named Mom. They put out two of 2018’s better examples of hop-scotching all over the musical spectrum, bouncing over hip-hop, folk, rock and more, sometimes within the space of a single song. This year’s Detox only builds it up further. This week, Mom shared new single “Mask,” which you can hear below.

Mom packs a lot into “Mask,” starting off with delicate electronic notes to rap over before letting a barrage of samples trickle in. Everything smudges as the song moves along, before a guitar interlude softens the vibe before one final pivot back towards a slightly stranger rap segment to end the number. Mom uses all of this genre twisting as a way to build tension rather than just an easy way to stand out. It’s one of the artist’s best attributes, and on display fully here.

Rapper nate feels slightly more straightforward than someone like Mom, as they come from the “SoundCloud rap” side of things. Then again, that whole community stands out in how they don’t limit themselves to how they sound, and nate’s second EP dawn light draws from all kinds of genres to build something compelling. Listen below.

The songs here find nate switching between a traditional rap flow and more of a sing-song delivery, not far off from what Mom and many others have started doing. The beats similarly provide plenty of variety, with the piano-guided fragility of “sunrise” drawing a different emotion out of nate than the twinkly bounce of “overwrite.” The best comes on finale “bitbybit,” the one total rave up here, finding nate and guest Kei Jolno embrace a feel-good atmosphere and creating something straight-up energetic. Whatever blend on genre they take, getting energy across remains vital to this new generation of creators.

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