What Samuel Seo offers is an evolution of the hip-hop-and-R&B fusion found in the Korean music scene. Along with peers like Giriboy, he brings melodicism and a more pensive attitude towards Korean hip-hop, relying on a combination of vocal lines and rapping, rather than the latter alone. While Samuel Seo isn’t the most technically accomplished singer, his ability to effortlessly switch between two different modes is a defining part of his music.
Like its predecessor, Frameworks, Ego Expand (100%) contains many flourishes of piano and synths. The atmosphere this time around is more somber, reserved; tracks move at a slower pace, and we find brass bringing controlled dissonance onto “Hit and Run” and “Ready or Not.” Samuel Seo’s songs are filled with subtle details and background lines that add depth; “Ready or Not”‘s interlocking guitars are a touch of artistic flair. Pay attention also to “DO:OM”‘s swinging rhythm and repeating bass motif. Meanwhile, “Blue” is perhaps the most straightforward, poppy song on the album, with a rather bubbly chorus. The closing and title track, “Ego Expand (100%),” is triumphant in its drive – both thematically and musically, it portrays artistic pride and sheer confidence.
Ego Expand (100%) makes great use of its features. Guest rappers, such as Giriboy, Ja Mezz, and 넉살, bring rhythmic and textural variation, and the duet between Samuel Seo and 정인 on “Sandwich” is wonderfully soulful.
All in all, Ego Expand (100%) is a well-crafted, solid display of hip-hop and R&B. In the general scheme of things, it finds itself as a more thoughtful, introspective release. Its accessibility means that I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking to get into the aforementioned genres.