[Review] Ballistik Boyz’s “Summer Hype” will sneak up on you

Apart from their exciting, old-school hip-hop debut Tenhane, most of Ballistik Boyz’ best material has appeared as b-sides. February’s Anti-Hero’s was alright (though the teacher in me despises that misplaced apostrophe), but the rock-rap Front Burner and breakbeat Bang Out were absolutely incredible. New single Summer Hype doesn’t live up to either of those tracks, but it’s a pleasant mid-tempo with a sneakily addictive chorus.

Ballistik Boyz are Exile Tribe’s most hip-hop focused group thus far, comprised of international members with an eye (and ear) toward global tastes. This means that genres such as trap are infused into their music more strongly than many of their agency peers, but it fits their style pretty well. Summer Hype is laid-back and trendy, gliding on the kind of tinny beats and plonky piano that have characterized many forgettable mid-tempos over the past few summers. And, Summer Hype’s verses aren’t much to write home about. However, the track allows for enough open space to really focus on its performances, and that approach pays off.

What really makes Summer Hype an earworm is its chorus. On first listen, it wafts in and out with little effect, but the melody has a nice tug to it that rewards a revisit. It certainly won’t be going down as one of 2020’s J-pop highlights, but if you’re looking for a head-nodding summer track to groove to, this fits the bill. I only wish that, when it comes to their next single, Ballistik Boyz would embrace their more inventive, exciting side. This group has too much potential to simply follow trends.

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IATFB says: I’m actually in the same boat. At first listen I didn’t think much of it, but now that I’m listening to it again and the chorus really begins to wear you down. And I phrase it that way because I’m still not sure if I mean it in a good or bad way, but it’s certainly surprisingly notable.

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