AOMG rapper Loco has been around for a while now—we’ve all heard him in some feature or another, either with Jay Park or Eric Nam, for example; or maybe you’ve heard one of his singles, which he has been releasing ever since 2012. But it’s not common for the rapper to put out releases with a little more length to them. The last—and only—time he’s put out a mini-album dates back to 2014, with Locomotive. A lot of time has indeed passed since November of 2014.
So definitely, hearing news of not just a new release, but a full-length album from Loco counts amongst the best news I heard back in May. Having followed him for a while now and checking out pretty much every collab and song he’s done and featured in in hopes of hearing more, the prospect of getting my hands on an entire album of Loco’s music was surely exciting.
Titled Bleached and released on May 25, the album comprises 11 tracks, many of which are collaborations with various names from the Korean hip-hop scene. Through each track, Bleached showcases a variety of sounds and beats without being all over the place. It’s not intensely explorative in style, but there’s definitely a lot of work that was put into trying a few things here and there, and the result is more than satisfying. Rather than going on an endeavour to dabble in new genres, this album feels more like Loco trying to pin his versatile, yet personalized, style down to 11 songs.
Leading to May 25, we had the chance to hear quite a handful of songs from Bleached. “Movie Shoot” was the first to be released on May 22, and it definitely set the tone for the rest of the album, making me definitely, definitely excited for the rest of the tracks. However, it was the release of “DA DA DA,” featuring Hoody, where I knew I had already found a favorite. “DA DA DA” has a typical R&B slow beat, the kind that makes you nod along and sway to the rhythm. Loco’s delivery is laid-back and melodic, fitting perfectly with Hoody’s incredibly smooth vocals.
Another big favorite of mine was “Too Much,” which features the great DEAN. That nicely-paced beat with its slight big band influence fits perfectly with DEAN’s high voice, allowing Loco’s faster-paced rap to shine through while maintaining its relaxed and slightly melodic beat. “So Bad,” which also features Sik-K, falls under the category of more slow, sexy hip-hop tracks with a rhythm that seems dragged out and, surprisingly, contains quite dark-themed lyrics. It’s definitely worth checking out, as it counts amongst the best tracks on the album.
However, my favorite track remains “Still,” which was released as a single last November. It’s the kind of song that catches your attention from the first second, with an addictive guitar hook that’s present throughout the entire track. More importantly, it’s one of the few songs on the album that, to me, truly showcases Loco’s potential as a rapper. Another plus? Crush’s feature towards the end of the song, which adds a nice, softer twist to the track. Brilliant.
Did Bleached satisfy my expectations? For the most part, yes, absolutely. With that being said, Bleached has one tiny, tiny flaw: it isn’t cohesive in its narrative. The songs, separately, are incredible; some even more than others, which is perfectly okay. Hey—it’s the same thing for every album, after all. However, maybe it’s just me, but I do expect a little more storytelling from a hip-hop album: tracks that follow each other both in sound and through their words, that sort of thing, especially because the genre prides itself on lyric writing. Though Bleached did a good job offering great tracks, the content has a hard time fitting well together. Overall, though, that doesn’t take away much from the quality of the release. I’m still able to enjoy Bleached wholly at the end of the day, which is still what I’ve always wanted from Loco.