Review: m-flo’s Beat Space Nine

There are few things that can make me turn into a giddy music nerd as quickly as a new m-flo album.

*Beat Space Nine* is the fourth full-length album from the Japanese hip-hop collective known as [m-flo](, and their second in the line of dance-flavored cameo-filled albums. With Verbal doing the MC work and Taku doing the production, m-flo brings infectious hooks, smooth rhymes that switch between English and Japanese seemlessly, and above all else a very polished and fun take on hip-hop. Anyone who has an ounce of rhythm in their body have a good chance of liking at least a few of their tracks, if not their whole back catalog.

Songs will be rated on the traditional MP3 rating scale of 1-100; over 80 indicates love, over 60 indicates like, 50 indicates the thin line between positive and negative feelings. I am listening to most of these songs for the first time, so forgive me for not grasping nuances or whatever.

### BEAT

m-flo traditionally has a handful of filler tracks on their albums, and I normally skip them. But for once, the opening filler has an actual musical hook, drum beats, and sets the album going on a high note. I’m actually sitting here wishing this was a full-length track, but since it’s not, **60**.

### Taste Your Stuff (m-flo loves BENNIE K)

I actually got my hands on this track a week or two ago, and was warned it was more dance pop than hip hop. I shrugged off this warning, and put it on – who was I to let a little warning get in the way of my musical cravings?
I now extend this warning to you: this thing will get stuck in your head. If you put this on your MP3 player, there’s a good chance you will bounce along to it. It will lodge itself in your brain and will not leave. Why can’t American pop songs be this good? **90**.

### Loop In My Heart (m-flo loves EMYLI & YOSHIKA)

A bit of a back and forth over some very nice disco beats. I actually think Verbal is a little overpowering here, and I’d much rather here Emyli and Yoshika shining with their very nice melodies over Verbals spitting out a lot of responses. Still, decent track. **60**.

### SO EXCLUSIVE (m-flo loves Sowelu)

Again with the disco beats (although with a bit more funk), this time we get a lot of focus on the female vocals. Verbal is just right here, not overpowering the vocalists with his stuff. The funk is definitely prevalent here, with the whole backbeat claps and everything. The track has clicked for me – not the sort of thing I want to listen to 24/7, but a track I wouldn’t turn off if it came on. **70**.

### I’M DA 1 (m-flo loves WHEE SUNG)

I’m not really sure what’s going on here. I mean, sure, Verbal is going rap crazy, but I’m totally baffled with the music underneath. It’s a little drum’n’bass, which doesn’t fit in with some of the refrain harmonizing…I think I’ll be passing on this one. **40**.

### ONE DAY (m-flo loves Miriya Katou)

Slow start, probably a good choice after doing four up-beat songs. I’m not sure why, but this is sort of reminding me of a few tracks by The Streets (*It’s Too Late*, mostly) – I may not know what exactly is being said, but it feels rather reminiscent, sort of sorrowful. Not quite on the level of *Come Back To Me* off the first m-flo album, but it’s good. **62**.

### A.D.D.P. (m-flo loves Monday Michiru)

Recent m-flo fans will remember the brilliance of *Way U Move* off last year’s Astromantic; where a Dragon Ash ballad was suddenly twisted into a Daft Punk-lite dance floor burner. If you take the dance floor portion, stick on some very classic house/rave piano, throw in some disco strings, and layer some Monday Michiru harmonizing in, you get A.D.D.P. Hello, dream track. **95**.

### tO yOUR bEAT (m-flo loves YOSHIKA)

We slow down again for some more Yoshika loving. There’s nothing particularly wrong with this track, but it’s not standing out in any way over what we’ve heard thus far. **55**.


Filler track #2. Unfortunately, this is the traditional m-flo filler track, with some weird Japanese speech sample over top of a little beat. Passing, hardcore. **20**.

### DOPEMAN? (m-flo loves EMYLI & Diggy-MO’)

A number of months ago, when the singles that would make up this album were starting to get released as EPs, there was a wonderfully crazy track called *Dopamine*, featuring EMYLI and Diggy-MO. I really, really got into it, and it had a fun video too.
*DOPEMAN?* is essentially a rework of this track – slightly different vocals, somewhat different backing music. While it’s a decent little remix, the original version really blows this away. Those that have the original single would do well to hang onto it. **50**.

### COZMO-NAUGHTY (m-flo loves Kahimi Karie)

Best song title ever. The disco funk returns with a vengance, and brings along some slinky vocals with it. Very experimental in parts, it’s got a definite lounge feel. The whispered rapping is a little weird – never mind the very Orange Lounge flairs – but there’s something very appealing about the track as a whole. **74**

### The Other Side Of Love (m-flo loves EMYLI)

Saving me the trouble of listening to this all the way through, I’ve actually owned the Let Go EP for a few months, which had this as a B-side. With some minimal bass paired with a light guitar, Emyli provides some nice melodies over the occasional breakbeat rhythms. I certainly enjoyed this enough when I initially heard it, so let’s not ruin a good thing. **75**

### Float’n Flow (m-flo loves Rie Fu)

Please, please tell me this isn’t island reggae. Please please please…okay, it’s not quite reggae, but it’s definitely got a tropical feel, and that’s really throwing me off during a sci-fi themed album. Don’t get me wrong – if there’s any band I enjoy going on musical tangents, it’s m-flo. I loved *Life Is Beautiful* and *Vanessa* off the last album, both with a very obvious jazz direction. But I don’t go for this style of music, any time. **39**, just to keep it off all my playlists.

### HEY! (m-flo loves Akiko Wada)

Wow, this is…okay, let’s see, the rhythm and backing samples are totally motown soul. The instruments on top of that are sort of psychedelic rock. This is a hell of a hybridization of a few genres; I can only think to describe this as modern soul. This is the sort of musical tangent I like. **66**.

### let go (m-flo loves YOSHIKA)

Obviously the track from the previously mentioned Let Go EP, this starts slow and languid with very pretty vocals from Yoshika and nice string ensemble work. There’s a hell of a bridge near the middle, with some well timed rapping; it all mixes together great. **78**

### TRIPOD BABY (m-flo loves LISA)

This track strikes me as funny, in a way. Originally, m-flo was a three person unit, with Verbal, Taku, and Lisa. Lisa, after two albums, decided she wanted to go off and start a solo career. And so here we are, a few years after the band split, with all three of the members back together giving us one more track.

But, strangely enough, it’s also a symbolic track. Lisa’s solo portions are very much typical of the old m-flo; single melody, not a terribly complicated rhythm, and her voice shines well. The Verbal portions are typical of new m-flo; experimental, branching into new genres – here I’d say we’re delving into dancehall. The refrains bridge these different styles, and it works fairly well.

It’s not the strongest track off the album musically, so the rating won’t be terribly high (although it’s certainly listenable). But *Tripod Baby* signifies the transitions the band has made over the last three years, and it’s worth noting just for that. **60**

### NINE

The closer filler track; exactly the same as the first track on their first album, *Planet Shining*. I don’t even want to try and figure out the significance of this. As it’s filler, and not really musically interesting filler, it pulls a **20**.

## In Closing

While it’s not quite as obviously great as Astromantic (where I had two tracks pegged at 100), this is a solid album, and anyone who’s ever liked m-flo will likely not be disappointed.