Teriyaki Boyz

Serious Japanese

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For their second album, the Teriyaki Boyz decided to try moving out of the purely Japanese market. With Serious Japanese, the band made a major-label release worldwide in conjunction with a domestic release. The changes made? Some additional English in the lyrics, and a veritable slew of American hip-hop producers involved. The aesthetic is full, verging on a wall of sound approach -- there's always aural activity here, from basic drum machines to chanted backups to a stray but well-placed gamelan (in a soundtrack bit from a Fast and Furious movie). It's in the pieces that cater most to an American audience (such as "Tokyo Drift") that the tone goes to its simplest -- an Auto-Tunes-laced ballad in the Jermaine Dupri-produced "Sweet Girl" and the Chris Brown-heavy "Work That," with its mix of Daft Punk-style backing tracks and Dirty South edge. Where the band really shines, however, is in the more original material, regardless of who's producing it. Kanye West joins in for "Teriya-King" and mixes a heavy chant and thump with harder-edged deliveries from the Teriyaki Boyz themselves. Pharrell and Busta Rhymes nearly steal the show in "Zock On!," but the Boyz themselves still find room to fit in. Ad-Rock from the Beastie Boys shows up in "(Can't) 'Bake' That 'Fape'" but serves primarily as a foil for the Boyz, who cover a range of styles from Soul'd Out's Diggy Mo to Nitro Microphone Underground to hints of Zack de la Rocha. Multilingualism aside, the album gets a bit pedestrian when it's trying too hard, but when simply flowing, it's undeniably hot.

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