[HOT TRACK]Flip-flop to hip-hop fizzes out

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[HOT TRACK]Flip-flop to hip-hop fizzes out

The recording artist Tasha refuses to confine herself to a single style, or even a single name.

She has dabbled in rap and pop, among other forms, and goes by Yoon Mi-rae (mirae means future) and "t" as well as Tasha. Based in Korea but born in Texas, Tasha, 21, debuted as a rapper in the mid-90s in a group called Uptown. Then she detoured to dance pop in 1999 with the female duo Tashannie. Last year she did a solo album, giving rhythm and blues a whirl.

Her second solo record, which came out last Friday, is all about hip-hop. She named it "Gemini," inspired by the Greek myth about twins having distinctively different characters. "That represents my versatile musical image the right way," Tasha said.

Tasha has a thick, husky and powerful voice, comparable with Mary J. Blige's. While her R&B experiment was impressive, she felt drawn to hip-hop this time, and many local hip-hop artists, such as Drunken Tiger and CB Mass, lent a hand to the recording. With hip-hop serving as the base, Tasha also added a few other flavors, like reggae and soul.

"Gemini" opens with the voice of an elderly woman, saying, "Youngsters, come out and play," then busts out with a staccato of verses alternating in English and Korean. Tasha plays with Korean words well, creating a good flow with her rapping. But her voice, shouting, "Why don't we go insane together?" gets a bit overaggressive.

The second track, "Meditation," featuring CB Mass, starts with a nice melody line, followed by powerful rap verses. The third, "Me We," is about the best song on the disk. It starts smoothly but builds to a powerful ending, as does "Meditation."

"Wonder Woman," not about a superhero but about wondering when happy days will come, is an exciting up-tempo number. The reggae flavor is served up in "Over the Endless Ocean," but the guest, male vocals clash with the tune. "Concrete Jungle" is lethargic.

While Tasha had herself a hip-hop fest by collaborating with so many other singers, the album comes off as just that: a loose party consisting of a group of friends having fun, not trying to do anything special.

The album also features some Japanese hip-hop artists, like DJ Hasebe and Double, and is set to be released in Japan after the World Cup. Tasha will begin a concert tour May 18 in Seoul, and plans to tour Japan in late July.

by Chun Su-jin

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