Complex Magazine UK recently compiled a list of “25 Artists You Need To Know” in the Japanese hip-hop scene. Between more than valid choices (KOHH, aided by his “It G Ma’ turn) to…like, great choices, except completely bizarre given the vague “newness” of this listicle (Nujabes), it was what you would expect from a music site in 2015. Popping up on it, though, was Suiyoubi No Campanella, a Tokyo project that grabbed a bunch of domestic (and a little international exposure…emphasis on little) with their 2014 song “Momotaro.” The blurb did take time to emphasize that this unit “approaches the realm of J-Pop* more than any other on this list,” but still…the emphasis was on the group’s hip-hop credentials, a genre they are inspired by but don’t claim to be part of.
Latest song “Napoleon” highlights Suiyoubi No Campanella’s variety, as it features minimal rapping (if any at all) and instead plunges into house-revival waters. Featuring production from Shinta Sakamoto and an assist from OBKR from the outfit N.O.R.K., “Napoleon” shines as a shuffling dance-pop number, one that might be a touch out of step with global trends (Disclosure are hibernating at the moment) but is probably right on time in Japan. It scales back on the high-energy of earlier Suiyoubi singles in favor of something slower burning, and it works sonically — “Napoleon” replicates a very specific type of electro pop from the last few years, and smooshes Suiyoubi’s unique vocal delivery on top. The trade off is that it isn’t as energetic and unique as songs such as “Momotaro” or “Joan Of Arc,” but it also puts a spotlight on how flexible the group can be musically. Watch the video above.