Hiroomi Tosaka spends his days acting as a vocalist in the long-winded J-pop outfit Sandaime J Soul Brothers from EXILE Tribe, but on “Luxe” he’s completely in the spotlight. Well, he gets a little help from another EXILE performer, and Dutch EDM heavyweight producer, Afrojack. Watch the video below:
I’m not going to try to parse out the plot to this clip, because this one is all about style over substance (which, the best EXILE videos tend to be...if you wanted coherent story, tune in to one of the drama shows EXILE members end up starring in). It features a lot of animal masks, stylised violence, and some shots of people turning up in what appears to be a neon-soaked garage. Visually, it grabs your attention, and the constant action mirrors the music well because there’s a lot going on over these few minutes.
“Luxe” touches on three distinct styles over its relatively short runtime. It starts out in Tosaka’s comfort zone, despite a hip-hop inspired beat, he sings for the song’s first stretch, showing off his vocal abilities. He builds the tension up until “Luxe” drops down to its next passage, which is Afrojack’s comfort zone of skittering EDM. Then one more pivot, this time making room for rapper CRAZYBOY’s section. It’s a rapid song, one that’s far more all over the place than Afrojack’s last collaboration with Sandaime J Soul Brothers, the 2015 hands-in-the-air number “Summer Madness.”
He did make a cameo in the music video that time, though
The most jarring portion also happens to be the one that gives “Luxe” the most contemporary cache of the bunch. CRAZYBOY’s inserts aren’t far removed from any K-pop rap portions, and strikes me as being more or less equal with any buzzed-about “Asian rap” trends Western publications latch on to. Yet for that reason, it also feels the most out-of-place element. Tosaka’s singing ends up being the best, and the tension between his clear voice and Afrojack’s hard-hitting music works well. The raps, though, feel unnecessary.
Still, as mentioned, it also makes “Luxe” sound very of the moment, and when looking at high-energy male pop out of the continent, it deserves to be in the discussion.
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