Who are you ? by Liza feat. Yo-Sea

Released: 22.07.22 / Label: Self-released

Liza is definitely going for the rebellious vibe for the cover. I’ve not heard Liza or Yo-Sea before, but I love a collaboration so let’s find out what this is about. Liza is a younger rapper with about 10k followers on Instagram and a few successful tracks under her belt. An up-and-coming artist who’s doing her best to make some waves here. While this is Liza’s track, from my research it looks like Yo-Sea is the more popular artist. So a really great collab for her on this deluxe reissue of her debut EP. Ok, let’s check out the song.

This track has a tight groove with some great sample work giving it a perfect flow for the rappers to work with, and Liza kills it. She uses a really straight-forward rhythmic groove for this track, with a lot of rapid fire phrases ending with stretched syllables. It makes for some really addicting phrasing, made even better by her voice which is incredibly easy to listen to. Yo-Sea pops in for a single verse that seems a bit lackluster in comparison. His voice is amazing and the harmony work is cool, but the rap itself isn’t that memorable. His vocal ad-libs peppering the following choruses are also a bit much. Sometimes guests can be like that. But she got the name drop, so good for her. This track definitely makes me want to check out the rest of the new album.

For comparison I also checked out the older version of this track that was released last year, and while the rap is a bit more playful in that version the music here is much improved. It seems like she was able to simplify and polish up almost every aspect of the track, something I wish more artists would do for their older releases. In an age where releasing music is so easy, you’d think that songs would be updated as they evolve over the years. I’m glad she did it.

Verdict: Worth your time. (3.5/5)

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Released: 22.06.08 / Label: FRIENDSHIP.

In Japanese the full band name is: “I’m not going to the beach in my pajamas.” so I’m a little disappointed in the version they chose for English, PAJAUMI.

This band is a crazy mix of talented individuals. The whole project is the brainchild of Kazuhiro Bessho, an incredible pianist/composer/lyricist/more, who has played with a ton of artists here in Japan and is a member of the incredible group Gentle Forest Jazz Band. He also has credits in a lot of commercial and theme song work, some movies as well. He’s great, and he’s using his formidable composing skill to take this group’s music to the next level. The other members are equally impressive, but I don’t know how many are permanent so more on them next time.

This song is a smooth as butter. The composition is fun and the playing is superb. The slip beat and super active bass line groove hard, and combined with the killer keyboard work it all feels fresh and exciting. The vocals are good too, but definitely feel like they’re in the way a lot of the song. They bad lyrics really aren’t helping things, especially in a genre where rhyme and theme are so important. The lack of skill here really brings the song down. Which is too bad, because musically it’s on par with some of the best R&B and soul groups I’ve heard. With all the jazz theory in the band the lack of lyric theory is a bad look though, and I think it stands out enough to keep me from listening again. Or at least from listening too closely. I’ll definitely be checking back in for all their new releases in the future.

Verdict: Take it or leave it (2.7/5)

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GHOST by VivaOla, Jua, Wez Atlas

Released: 22.05.25 / Label: HIP LAND MUSIC

Yes, the title does mean ghost as a verb.

This is the third collaboration between artists VivaOla, Jua, and Wez Atlas, and I hope they do a fourth because they sound great together. A basic breakdown is all I can give you here, so be sure to check the links above to hear their solo work. While still very young, the artists each bring their own unique life experiences to the track. They all have multicultural backgrounds: VivaOla was born in Korea raised in Japan. Jua was born in Hawaii and has Japanese, French and Cameroonian heritage. And Wez Atlas was born in Japan but raised in Colorado. It seems they met through music in Tokyo, although I’m shaky on the details. What I do know is that they represent and new wave of artists coming up in the Japanese music scene making some really great music.

This track is smooth as butter. VivaOla holds up the chorus sections while Wez Atlas and Jua take solo rap sections in the middle. The song is a call for self-love and positivity, and the lyrics do a really good job of getting that across. Each artist approaches the subject in their own way, and though they never sing together they all have the same message. The melodic sections are sung really well, very controlled vocals and a well chosen register for the voice make the part feel like a safe place to return after the lyric breaks. The rap sections are also really good. It’s refreshing to hear the younger generation of rappers in Japan treating the craft as the artform it is. English, Japanese, and French are all featured in the lyrics, giving it a very unique audience. Sadly the song fails to really bring the three artists together, each singer remaining primarily in his own section.

The beat is incredibly minimal and I don’t know if that was the best choice. The intro and outro sound cool but the rest of the song is pretty subdued. For any other R&B song it would be fine but given the message of these lyrics I think a more active arrangement would have been better. At the very least I think giving each artists’ section some kind of climax is bare minimum here. Well, areas for growth for the next collab. Or maybe someone will do a remix. The vocals really do sound great though, and the mix is really clean. So the production value is there.

The cover is a but weird. It feels more like pop somehow? I’m a bit disappointed that, given the message of the song is self-care, they’ve decided to erase the people from the frame entirely. I mean I get that they were probably just trying to play with the word ghost, but I feel like that would imply we’re the ones they’re ghosting…
Maybe it’s some deeper message that I’m missing, but it seems like a poor choice. The music video is also worth checking out and does a much better job of getting the message across.

Verdict: Worth your time (3.2/5)

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