‘Midnight’, released back in October, is easily one of my favorite Korean hip hop albums. I haven’t listened to that much of Crucial Star’s older work but I became familiar with him through features on other artists’ tracks. I liked Midnight the first time I heard it and my appreciation grew through discovering the lyrics, consequently uncovering the true depth of the album.
I really appreciate Crucial Star because of the thought he puts into his lyrics and through the songs on this album he delivers a commentary on a variety of issues. I can see how in addition to his voice, Crucial Star’s range of emotion, his sentimentality, has garnered his comparisons to Drake.
Track 1 – Midnight
Not much to say for this one. A solid opening title track with a definite feel of an intro.
Track 2 – 퇴실 (Check Out) [Lyrics]
The deeper tone of Crucial Star’s voice is one of my favorite things about him as an artist. Much of this track I was wondering “Why so high?” Listening to it I felt a lot like I did listening to Taeyang’s “You’re My”. All of that aside, yaaaas to the piano.
Track 3 – Limousine Dream
This is definitely a track that showcases Crucial Star’s skill as a rapper. I wish I had the lyrics because I could have sworn he mentions Beenzino and maybe Tyga in the hook? What makes this track unique is the older song it samples from – does anyone know what song that is??
Track 4 – 두통약 (Headache Pill)/Become a Man [Lyrics]
Hmm I really like the way Crucial Star changes his style for these two lines in the first verse:
I became a performer and am making a lawyer’s salary
Are you watching? All you teachers who looked down on me?
You can hear the challenge in the question he poses come across in his voice. The versatility in Crucial Star’s vocal ability is displayed well in the hook. I like the lyrics for this one a lot but I also wish I had an instrumental version because its a really well structured track musically.
Track 5 – 바쁜 남자 (Busy Man)
Was really sad I couldn’t find the lyrics for this one. Grandline label mate Louie from Geeks delivers the second verse, another really great feature that fits the music perfectly. A bit of a departure in style compared to the rest of the album but I really like the band sound and the upbeat tempo.
Track 6 – Pretty Girl [Lyrics]
This is a track that I’m sure many fans have probably had on repeat. The lyrics for this one are so good, make sure to check them out above. Crucial Star encourages the girl in the song to embrace her natural beauty, communicating that he is happy with her just the way she is. One of the strongest tracks on the album musically, I can easily imagine hearing this song on the radio.
Track 7 – Paris [Lyrics]
Ugh this is the best track on the album in my opinion and probably the most memorable one. It is accompanied by a beautifully filmed music video. The lyrics are clever and the production for this track is on point.
Track 8 – Dreams Forgotten (Interlude)
If all the wonderful jazz elements on this album weren’t enough, we get a full jazz interlude that is perfectly placed leading into the next track and the rest of the album.
Track 9 – 꿈을 파는 가게 (The Shop That Sells Dreams) [Lyrics]
Two significant features on this track, Korean R&B artist Mayson the Soul and Grammy-award winning jazz keyboardist Bob James. Hmmm not sure how Crucial Star and Bob James linked up but the keyboard is the most important part of this track and everything else layers on top of it so well. This entire album is strong lyrically but the lyrics for this song are probably my favorite.
Track 10 – Owl
An excellent track with a chill beat that contrasts well with the speed of Crucial Star’s flow in the first verse. I haven’t listened much to Donutman but this song left me wanting more.
Track 11 – Fire
Another strong display of Crucial Star’s versatility with a more aggressive tone. Once again, lyric translations are needed. The hook is a nice remix of the classic “C.R.E.A.M.” by Wu-Tang Clan.
Track 12 – Sweet Life
Mixed feelings on this one mainly because I’m not sure how I feel about Konsoul yet. Not bad but not one I have listened to very much compared to the other tracks.
Track 13 – I’m The One
Maybe I just had higher expectations for this track because of the title but I was a bit disappointed. It’s my least favorite track on the album simply because Crucial Star’s vocal style is a bit lazier, which fits the music, but nonetheless I wasn’t a fan. I also thought a lot more could have been done with the hook.
Track 14 – Same Boy
That guitar section tho. This entire album has really great instrumental elements and this track is one of the best examples of that. I love the chorus and Loco was perfect for this track.
Track 15 – Blessing [Lyrics]
I was really pleased with the order of the tracks on this album. Blessing is a strong ending for ‘Midnight’, a track in which Crucial Star lists the things he’s thankful for so far including his family and fans.