Scrap & Build

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The fifth album by J-rapper Seamo (formerly Seamonator) came in late 2008 with full notice of his climb to the top of the charts over a few years of middling success. The album opens all bombast, horns blaring and Seamo rapping over the top in a manner eerily similar to Gerardo (he of "Rico Suave" infamy). As the album moves along, Seamo shows a bit more range, pumping out relatively sanitary party rap with mildly tweaked vocal tracks and call and response. Where some Japanese rappers have taken the language to its most rhythmic potential with their deliveries, Seamo sticks to a more R&B-influenced form of phrasing, stretching his vowels out to meet the rhythms and adding just a touch of a croon when he thinks it will work. His vocals are a bit thin for crooning, but he only strays away momentarily most of the time, leaving proper singing duties to a series of cameos (Azu, Yukako, Crystal Boy). The overall result is a fairly standard one -- nothing moving too far away from basic, formulaic crowd-pleasers, laid out over the top of simplistic (and in some cases, clich├ęd -- as in the use of "Pomp and Circumstance" as a backing track for "Continue," or the tried-and-true ballad to his mother) foundations. However, when he moves out of his obvious comfort range, as in the simultaneously squeaking and moshing metal-circus fantasy "TBP," there's a shocking moment, and a true highlight for the ears.