Many newer women rappers (but not all) in Japan today operate in a whisper-like voice, a topic most certainly worthy of an essay or two (quick aside: I mostly come back to MCpero telling me that she wishes she was a man, to rap better). Beyond thinkpiece-ready topics, it also means a lot of it starts sounding alike, and it takes something more to stand out. Shiwashiwa’s “Blue” is on the muted side, with the verses delivered in hushed tones, but they flow over well over the squiggly synth backdrop, and it builds up to a hook where the voice rises up a touch…adding a little oomph, without throwing things too far off wack. It’s sort of relaxing, though the near-secret quality of it also makes it intriguing — I can listen to this and feel chilled out, but also drawn to the sparseness. Listen above.