[Review] Stray Kids make a successful debut with aggressive, impactful “District 9”

Stray Kids is a new boy group from JYP Entertainment that has seemingly built up a ton of hype leading up to their debut, but for better or worse, I was not a part of those caught up in it. They’ve just recently made their debut with “District 9“, and it’s easy to see why so many were so excited.

Stray Kids managed to do a rare thing for a rookie K-pop group by commanding my attention in verses through their rapping alone. While I don’t know any of the members, I did enjoy how they don’t all sound the same, how they seem to each have their own flavor, and the hope the defiant nature of their lyrics provides. I get the feeling that the rappers are likely to be overhyped going forward because K-pop fans seem to think rapping fast and/or with a deep tone means amazing, but it was generally impressive and showcased the potential for growth, regardless.

The song itself is an aggressive assault from the get-go, combining a stomping beat and intermittent claps to lay the foundation (along with a sound I can’t quite place that starts at 12 seconds and reminded me of Beastie Boys‘ “Sabotage” a bit). While I’ve already talked about the strength of the verses, it’s the chorus that sealed the deal to mark “District 9” as a success. The inclusion of a guitar riff combined with the vocal explosion was a great way to top things off in a song that deserved a passionate yell. Mixing the rap-talk in with the rest of the vocal chorus was another wise choice, as it makes the vocal refrains standout thanks to the shift in tone.

My only quibble is the drop that essentially functions as a post-chorus as it doesn’t do a whole lot. I suppose it could function as a rest of sorts for the listener, but I didn’t think it was so over-the-top that its inclusion was necessary, and it stunted the momentum of the song if anything.

That aside, it was difficult to not be impressed by Stray Kids in “District 9”, and this is exactly how you make an impression on a random listener for a debut. They ooze with potential in this, and it made me curious as to how they’ll develop and grow going forward. Though the future may be promising, their aggressively fun debut proved that the present has plenty to enjoy as well.

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