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Digi Maw: KOHH’s “I Don’t Work (IA Version)”

I don’t know why the fuck this exists, but god bless whoever gave it the greenlight. Looks like it was first made back in December…produced by TeddyLoid…for a phone app. Well, sure, but this is the real arrival…

KOHH, far and away the most well known rapper in Japan and abroad at the moment, shared his song “I Don’t Work” a few months ago via brain-melting web page, and it is…a KOHH song. While I get dude’s significance — and believe there are far more forgettable rappers in Japan — most of what he’s released hasn’t really clicked with me. If I wanted to listen to someone trying to replicate Atlanta hip-hop…I think I’d just listen to Atlanta hip-hop. I think it would be good for him if he tried stretching out a bit.

KOHH, for me, has a lot in common with Vocaloid, the singing-synthesizer software that birthed a whole genre of music in Japan. While this instrument has produced some interesting pop and otherwise, the bulk of it is simply bedroom artists creating boring rock music with Hatsune Miku. If I wanted to listen to boring J-Rock I’d…well, I wouldn’t. I wish more producers would stretch it out a bit.

Enter “I Don’t Work (IA Version),” KOHH’s single rendered into digital bat shittery by the vocal pack/ avatar IA. Maybe it is KOHH revealing his Niconico obsession, maybe he’s an irony boy — either way, this is such an interesting and strange thing, the straightforward voice of IA rapping (kinda) over what sounds like the underground music from Mario Brothers. What strikes me about this is…it is one of the most outfield uses of Vocaloid in recent memory, offering a different approach to rapping than, like, this. For a digital tool that still feels vastly under explored, “I Don’t Work” shows an actual bit of daring, resulting in something that really grabs your attention, even if you ignore the dabbing cartoons. Listen above.