It is certain that once it was announced Korean pop fans would get excited. For the first time EXO created a sub unit called EXO-CBX consisting of only 3 members out of the 9 members. The mini album that was released featured their promo song “Hey Mama” which is also the title of album. Containing only 5 tracks, it gives you about 20 minutes of what can be a long lasting project. Even though it was short it gave the audience a little insight of some very funky and groovy songs that were composed by some talented people working with S.M. Entertainment.
These amazing composers and producers are what made this record so incredibly funky and why EXO-CBX was a success. The amazing creative artists include Bae Sung-hyun, Kenzie, Adrian Mckinnon, Vakseen, Joe Millionaire, Grae, Justin Reinstein, Lee Joohyoung, 100%Seo-jung, Tay Jasper, Greg Bonnick, Hayden Chapman, Shin Hyuk, Mrey, Jayrah Gibson, Davey Nate, DK, MZMC, Seolim, Jam Factory, Jang Yeo-jin and David Anthony Eames.
Surprised after the first listen, I could not imagine a more funky album than this with only 5 songs. After some distinct analyzing of each song, “Hey Mama” and “Juliet” would be the most productively powerful and artistic songs on the album.
As the first track on the album, “The One” was interesting but very unusual as the intro to the album. Not to mention the unexpected opening dialogue and then starting the song with a short rap, which more Korean pop groups are doing these days. The astonishing part of this song that could be interpreted as a flaw is the build up. The verse leading up to the chorus barely had any impact. Another detail that would have to be mentioned would be the abrupt transition from the up beat dance chorus to a slow tempo, making this part very random and unnecessary. I found this song was their weakest but this track did show more variety and was a bit more experimental then the rest of the songs.
No surprise “Hey Mama” is their most popular song since it is the promo song, but apart from that the production and writing of the song is beautifully balanced making the flow of the song very natural. The track incorporated a really groovy riff with the rhythm guitar in the intro and into the background during the whole song. The transitions either it be from verse to chorus or rap to verse, were very well done and did not seem out of place. As for “Rhythm After Summer” this song definitely had a hypnotizing beat that can make you dance anytime. Although this song was funky to the core, the song felt a bit more repetitive then the other tracks. The transition from dance to a slow tempo was very quick making it feel rushed. One detail that was a terrible decision during the producing of the song, was to include the video game sound they decided to put for the intro to the song.
One reason I chose “Juliet” over “Cherish” was because it had more variety and tones to the song than “Cherish” did. “Cherish” felt very generic and had a very cheesy chorus but it did have a great soft keyboard intro that eventually turned into a groovy dance song. What was very original in “Juliet” was the verse leading to the chorus. Starting slow to the slight change in tempo was interesting. The vocals that were shown in this song were absolutely the most impressive throughout all the tracks on the album. One unusual aspect that “Juliet” should have excluded was the weird high pitch bird like sample that BTS used in their song “Run”.
Overall this mini album was very fun and groovy. The composing of the songs were meticulously well written and produced with a funky twist to each song. As a final rating I would give this mini album a 7.5 out of 10 for the interesting ideas that were added to each song. Hope to see more of what the composers and producers will do for this group in the near future. If the members of EXO-CBX can eventually contribute to the making of the lyrics and music that would also be a plus to this sub unit.
Keep on listening and keep on grooving