If you told Loco that he’d be returning from the military during one of the most uncertain years in modern times, and well amidst a global pandemic, he’d have probably said “gee, that’s a bit morbidly specific.” Yet, that’s the exact situation the charismatic rapper finds himself in, and with a slim chance of the AOMG star re-training and heading into “cyber” – after all, South Korea’s response to the virus has been a polar opposite to the UK’s – the 30-year-old had no option but to launch himself right back into the mainstream.
And that he did seamlessly, officially re-emerging with SOME TIME, a four-track EP packed full of sonic breeziness. It mightn’t be as quirky and outgoing as some of his previous efforts – see “Late Night,” “Party Band” and “Summer Go Loco” – but this thoughtful, more considered Loco ends up providing tangible results.
Beginning with “Return Home,” a laidback rock-tinged number full of twangs of rhythm guitar, melodic sing-rapping and plodding percussion, Loco continues the form from some of his introspective numbers heard throughout 2018. “Is the end coming to me even from a distance?,” the rapper muses, painting a bittersweet picture of his eventual return to a place “no one is.” It’s a far cry from “OPPA,” and more akin to some of the pensive thoughts laid bare across “It Takes Time,” but makes for a nonetheless striking opener, and one worth an attentive listen.
“Can’t Sleep” switches the tone slightly, though, ditching the dejected raw reflection for thoughts of a bygone gushing giddiness. Penned all about being kept wide awake by thoughts of a significant other that needs to be let go of, Loco and Heize interchange verses explaining their stance on the romance; one being completely fine whilst the other finds themselves asking for their partner to “get out of my head.” Instrumentally it keeps the same lounging vibe, trap-inspired but still syringed with tone-heavy guitar riffs and the occasional skittering of more skeletal percussion. For a title-track it is rather gloomy, and does contrast with its colourful music video, but still serves a purpose as an intriguing piece of art for an artist much more associated with optimism.
However, for those in search of such hope and quirky vigour so synonymous with the AOMG star, “Waiting Room” provides an apt amount of just that. Loaded with humorous lines about temperature checks and hand sanitiser, the track is all about getting ready to “bring the LOCO back.” Produced with distorted synth blasts, tinny percussion and a consistent trap element, it’s a fairly modest offering which, in line with the EP’s theme, doesn’t burst into unnecessary life, instead favouring understated wit and low-key energy.
“Finally” closes proceedings, a collaboration with indie artist Car, the Garden which loops right back to the laidback, sonically light feel of the release’s opener. Built around a catchy, non-invasive chorus, a breezy guitar melody and looped synth-lines, it’s a fairly formulaic, radio-friendly ditty, but one which still manages to feel serviceable on an extended play which favours quality, not quantity.
All in all, it’s great to see Loco back in the industry, releasing songs and expanding his soundscapes even amidst the chaos of 2020. And, despite the 30-year-old shedding some of his juvenile optimism and relentless hope during the past few years, the new, introspectively-minded Kwon Hyuk-woo is just as intriguing an artist.