The reason why I like them so much is because they’re convincing, because there is as much effortlessness in their execution as there is conviction. See, this is what I mean when I say that execution matters just as much as good material. While good material will take you places, equally competent execution will drive the point home.
And really, the production on this EP is glorious -- almost reminiscent of what JYP did to “Wonder World”, which was epic in every way imaginable, the only difference is that while the Wonder Girls were sophisticated and crisp, and JJ project gave the material just that much more grit and spunk.
“Bounce” and “Hooked” remind me so much of pre-DBSK boyband material brought to the present, where we have all these fancy new recording equipment. The basics are all there though -- the rapping, the singing, the song structure, and even the melodies and chord progressions themselves.
“Hooked” is my favorite of the three, but I can honestly say that I love this entire EP as much as I love the songs individually, and this favoritism is more a personal preference than it is a technical one. The melody is gorgeous, the hook is catchy yet ridiculously subtle (did you even notice it?), and the rapping is so much more bearable than all the other acts I’ve heard over the years. It’s so 2005/2006 Rain/Se7en in the way it’s “Hip-Hop”. The song as a whole is slightly heavier than “Bounce”, but the effortlessness is different in “Hooked”. It’s like the difference between dark and milk chocolate -- while they’re both really good, dark chocolate is a lot heavier to the taste.
I know I said the Shinhwa album was the best release of the year so far, but I’m afraid they’ll have to relinquish that throne to JJ Project. JYP may have had a lot of blunders over the years, most of which I refuse to acknowledge anymore out of shame, but when he gets it right, he really gets it right. Because this, my friends, is how you handle a debut -- by going full steam ahead, carrying actual talent and bucketfuls of conviction.