Groove Matters: Striking a Balance Between Rhythm and Message
-I see similarities between your respective styles: Lexie, your distinctive lyric pronunciation while singing is remarkable, and JP THE WAVY, you appear to be a rapper who prioritizes the sound of your verses. I believe your individual singing styles contribute significantly to your global endeavors. How do both of you perceive this?
Lexie：I have been listening to Western music since I was a child, and I have always felt that first impressions are important. This is because music is very informative. It is difficult to recognize the meaning and content of lyrics after just one listen. Because first impressions are so important, I put a lot of emphasis on the “echoes” that are heard at the beginning of my own work.
WAVY: When I perform live overseas, most of the audiences get into the groove even though they don’t understand Japanese, so they must be enjoying the rhythm and groove of the music. Since I was a child, when I listened to Western hip-hop, I always prioritized the sound of the music over the meaning of the lyrics. So maybe that’s why the flow is more prioritized when I rap.
WAVY: Japanese people value lyrics very much, don’t they? I think it’s okay to listen to lyrics with a bit more of a groove. Of course, when I listen to US hip-hop, I check the lyrical meaning of the songs I like. But when I listen to a song for the first time, I listen to the lyrics first.
-What specific considerations do you consider to ensure that the groove’s sonic appeal takes precedence over the lyrical meaning?
WAVY: When you listen to hip-hop, the first thing you hear is the beat. If you are like “this song is really cool,” you would feek it within in the first few seconds. So, before the lyrics, the beat selection is very important, as a matter of course. Specifically, the intro is the first step. And the moment when the kick and bass hit. Of course, the rest is also important. Beats that don’t have much bass sound don’t enter the judging criteria in the first place. Some beats are cool without kick and bass, so it’s hard to say in general.
-It’s intriguing to hear a rapper emphasize that the beat comes first before the lyrics, reflecting a rather pragmatic perspective.
WAVY: I do beat marathons, you know. We would get a lot of beats from various producers and beatmakers and listen to them one by one in the studio non-stop for more than 10 hours, but then the engineer got sick and left.
-Listening for more than 10 hours continuously is of course, too much (laughs).
Lexie：I understand that very well. When I used to make hip-hop music, I would listen to the beats nonstop. But 10 hours is a long time to listen to beats (laughs).
-Lexie Liu, what is your songwriting process?
Lexie：I make a short demo, brush it up with a producer, and then add lyrics. In some cases, I also co-produce the lyrics.
Recently, I’ve been working almost exclusively online. But until I started releasing music from 88rising, I was doing all the production work by myself. If there is a producer I want to work with, I can proactively ask them! That was my first surprise when I joined 88rising.
-What do you think your music is received well by the global audience?
Lexie： I think arrangements are very important. They are important because they form the background of the music. Just as in a movie, the arrangement sets the mood for the entire song, just as you would set the genre of fantasy or suspense in a movie. It is as if I am playing a role within that mood.