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From the eccentric and wild Babay to the retro Miss Kim to the moving "Yanghwa Bridge," Zion.T's quirky and offbeat R&B vibe varies from theme to theme. One thing that doesn't change is his simplistic style and addictive rhythms. Since joining YG Entertainment's sub-label The Black Label last year, he has turned to hip-hop and even became a judge on the popular rap competition Show Me the Money 5. Despite concerns that he would go mainstream after signing with his new agency, the singer-songwriter eases the worries by displaying his creative independence in the album OO, a refreshing jazz/hip-hop fusion about his unique worldview.
Kicking off with a film rolling sound, the lead-off track takes listeners into an old-school "Cinema." Accompanied by a bossa nova-inspired guitar duet, the exotic Brazilian music surprisingly matches the singer's distinctive tenor vocals. Mysterious vocal harmonization and a double bass solo in the fills further add an ambient flavor to depict a dreamy romance. The bewitching jazzy groove of "Cinema" continues in the offbeat guitar-driven "Bad Guys" (Track 5). Zion.T's bluesy croons and cool raps present a captivating interpretation of a man's loneliness and desire for love. The feeling of emptiness is also revealed in the dramatic Comedian (Track 3). Under the stage, people burst into hysterical laughter that is suddenly consumed by gloomy staccato piano riffs. The spotlight falls on a lonely and helpless man who is always teased by others whenever he talks. Though the song lacks an apparent climax, Zion.T's calm vocals make a bitter statement against those who judge people easily without listening to them.
Zion.T shares his inner struggle while writing in the title track "The Song" (Track 2). Despite the despondent hook "I hope that this song won't be famous," the singer-songwriter shows his musical ambition through the bouncy piano-driven melody and super catchy chorus. He even showcases his rarely displayed rapping skills which are unexpectedly stunning. Featuring G-Dragon, Complex (Track 6) is another self-reflexive song about the singer's shortcomings. Drinking alone in a park, Zion.T bitterly complains about his imperfect body that makes him a flawed lover and singer. The self-deprecating monologue turns into an entertaining conversation between Zion.T and the Big Bang leader, who arrogantly raps about his wealth and fame. Borrowing the hook concept of hip-hop artist Jay Z's famous 99 Problems, the rapper tells Zion.T that they can never be the same and his complexes will become a real problem if he takes his flaws too seriously. Complex may provoke controversy due to its sensitive lyrics but it's an inspiring song that teaches people to accept their weaknesses positively.
OO, a symbol of Zion.T's trademark glasses, offers a fascinating glimpse into the singer-songwriter's world through his avant-garde music. The album's main producer Peejay, who has been the groove master behind rapper Beenzino, lends his beats and sophisticated music arrangements to produce an unorthodox blend of jazz, hip-hop and Zion.T's idiosyncratic neo-soul and R&B styles. OO is like an "audio cinema" that visualizes the singer's inner world and complicated emotions.