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New Gokou Kuyt: “Amethyst Drive”

Sort of double dipping with this one, but I think it’s worth it. Every week, streaming services put a spotlight on new Japanese rappers trying to take advantage of the always-coming-never-really-arriving moment where Japanese rap finally blows up. Some are good, most of them…are not. You usually have to go a layer beyond the “Apple Music presents” types to find something interesting, and that’s where Gokou Kuyt has resided making melancholy numbers inspired by “SoundCloud rap” and Korean numbers. While the inspirations have always been clear, Kuyt is one of those Japanese hip-hop artists more interested in finding their own angle on the familiar rather than simply trying as hard as they can to replicate things done better elsewhere. “Amethyst Drive” again has a pretty clear precedent, but Kuyt puts his own spin on it by focusing on the faded memories of the ’80s-inspired beat (check the tape whirring off at the start) and zooming in on the fragile feelings that could only come from someone who works with a label called Teen Dream Forever. It also reveals an ear for catchiness that other numbers hinted at but didn’t totally dig into, with the longing here balanced out by one of the best choruses he’s penned yet. Listen above.