K-Pop Double Take is a weekly review column highlighting recent releases that have yet to receive the attention we feel they deserve.
"Chocolate" is the new solo single from KangNam of the South Korean hip-hop group M.I.B. Released on the music-based subsidiary brand of CJ E&M Entertainment, JJ E&M Music, on Sept. 10, the track also features rapper San E.
"Chocolate" is a smooth and funky ride, driven by a sexy chorus that sounds like the musical equivalent of a fine piece of the dark stuff for which the song is named after.
Though KangNam grew up in Tokyo, the 28-year-old singer made his debut on the K-pop scene with M.I.B in 2011. Being both fluent in both Korean and Japanese has afforded KangNam some interesting opportunities. In 2015, he was the honorary ambassador for Japan's first KCON festival, held back in April. During a press junket for K-pop's permiere music festival, Kangnam stated that his bilingually allows him to "act as a bridge between the exchange of culture from both countries."
And that desire to bring together different cultural worlds seems to apply to KangNam's music as well. Though "Chocolate" is high-energy R&B, delicate piano licks complement the staggered beat driving the track.
Meanwhile, Kangnam's melodic vocal runs float over the whole thing like a romantic dream. "Chocolate" has an airy, almost-bossa nova feel, all delicate percussion and jazzy swagger. On the chorus, when Kangnam tells the woman he's singing to "you're like sweet chocolate," you believe him.
This guy's got moves!
Three quarters into "Chocolate," San E drops in his rhyme, adding some edge to the cut, but still keeping things smooth enough to mesh with the rest of the song. His romantic flow brings to mind classic 16's from lover man rappers like Candyman and LL Cool J.
"Chocolate" also recalls something out of the new jack swing movement or maybe one of Justin Timberlake's early singles. It has the smooth feel of the best quiet storm R&B, but still enough hardcore hip-hop momentum for it to work on the dance floor, perhaps early in the night, to set the vibe right.
Apart from bridging the gap between cultures, Kangnam makes fine music and this one is a perfect for your date night K-pop playlist. So maybe pick up a sweet treat for your one and only and throw this tune on the stereo. You can't go wrong with a little "Chocolate" in your life!
Watch the music video for "Chocolate" by M.I.B vocalist KangNam featuring rapper San E RIGHT HERE
John Chiaverina is a musician and journalist living in New York City. He has performed in over 18 countries, including two tours of South Korea, under the name "Juiceboxxx."