Look at this number as three artists hailing from different corners of the Japanese music world coming together for a song drawing on all of their strengths. “Summertime” brings rising J-pop act RIRI, rapper KEIJU and singer/songwriter/beatmaker Nariaki Obukuro on one number, the resulting creation being hazy but built for the warmer months. Listen to the song below.
Each artist brings a different flair to “Summertime.” KEIJU pops up first and spends the most time in the spotlight. The member of hip-hop collective KANDYTOWN and former tofubeats guest brings his laid-back flow glazed in a little bit of Auto-tune. His verses bend in and out of more familiar rapping and a sing-song style that keeps “Summertime” on its toes without ever nudging it too far out of its comfort zone.
For RIRI, “Summertime” works as a showcase of her vocal skills. Her solo releases have dabbled in a wide variety of styles, from hyped-up electro-pop to laid-back R&B. It’s not like she hasn’t had a chance to shine on this front before, but here RIRI takes the chorus and shows just how high she can hit those notes, giving this one the pop center it needs.
Then you’ve got Obukuro, working behind the boards on this one. That’s actually a bit of a change-up from his recent work as a solo artist, collaborating with Utada Hikaru and releasing full-length albums focused on his pipes. Here he goes back to a mode he used to do way more, laying down a solid beat that finds just the right balance between pounding and dreamy. It’s just the right backdrop for the two vocalists, and the recent London transplant adds a few sonic fireworks near the end by letting the music warp around while also turning split-second samples of the main voices into another topping.
Watch a behind-the-scenes clip for the song below, while you’re at it.