Despite having a very minimal solo portfolio, Sudachaengie (or Suda for short) has made himself known through his participation in various projects such as Speaking Trumpet, Cloudancer, and Get Backers. I’ve always loved his biting, dynamic presence in these groups, so I was thrilled to get a full forty minutes of it on his first solo album, 북가좌동 349-17.
북가좌동 349-17 is a remarkable first solo album. It’s tightly written, dynamic, and fun. The album’s tone is predominately jazzy, with looping jazz samples dominating the instrumentals. There’s always something groovy enough (not to mention harmonically interesting) going on in the bass, keyboards, or percussion to drive each track. Despite being made up of loops, the instrumentals keep things fresh by throwing in new solo lines, rhythmic patterns, and textures every once in a while. The instrumentals speak for themselves and engage me fully, to the point that I would still like the album even if Suda were a mediocre rapper. But thankfully, that’s not the case.
Suda does plenty of intricate work with voice inflection and rhythm. He doesn’t place his accents right on the beats, but instead finds ways to stretch or compress his rhythms and create syncopation. His flow’s complexity isn’t strained; it sounds as if he’s improvising, casually exploring new rhythms and never revisiting them. While Suda’s rapping is robust and assertive, the instrumentals are always relaxed — giving the album the perfect sound texture of being crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside.
북가좌동 349-17 is a mature hip-hop album; it has a lot of technical meat, but is also a hell of a good time. In his rapping, Suda knows how to be complex but relaxed.. I hope this album can get more exposure beyond Korea, because good sounds such as these shouldn’t go unheard.