Home Made Kazoku

Heartful Best Songs/Thank You

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Moving forward with their signature version of upbeat, happy rap, Home Made Kazoku's Heartful Best Songs/Thank You runs the basic course of their style. Short rap verses are intermingled with cheerful melodies (with sweeping string arrangements along for the ride from time to time). The album opens with perhaps their best show of abilities, using the theme of thanking (Arigatou) as a basis for some tightly packed lyrics whose delivery can hold its own with some of the more serious Japanese hip-hop outfits. Quickly moving on to the rest of the album, however, the group leans more toward simpler compositions and deliveries. With "Oboeteru," the tone has turned more clearly toward pop, though there are still bursts of rap mixed in. The rest of the album holds that pace -- the bulk of the sound is built around simplistic pop motifs, but there are bursts and bridges of higher intensity -- the tastier chocolate chips in a bland cookie, as it were. Home Made Kazoku isn't going to win any fans from the harder-edged hip-hop world with their style, but that's never been their goal anyway -- the group specializes in providing a much safer, happier version of hip-hop for the consumption of pop listeners -- pieces that mix pop balladry with touches of hip-hop (such as the Naruto theme "Nagareboshi"), and in that respect, they're a perfect blend of skill and simplicity.