Mino XX First Solo Album Review

So, I’m not sure if any of you have watched It’s Dangerous Beyond the Blankets (이불 밖은 위험해), but it is one of my favorite reality shows out there. Mino happened to make an appearance on the show. He was quite adorably eccentric. His outfits made him look like a Russian Czar. He was making weird alien sculptures out of clay. Overall, he is extremely artsy. Because of that, when I heard he was coming out with a full-length solo album, I was pretty pumped. As such, you are all getting my in-depth thoughts on Mino XX.

I picked up my copy of the album off of EBay from a shop in Florida called K’Poppin USA for $24.99. Their prices are pretty fair, and they have free shipping. Plus, with E-Bates, you can get an extra 2% cash back on your purchase. 

What is E-Bates?

E-Bates is a cashback site that gives you money for purchases you may have already made. They even have an extension for multiple browsers so when you go to a website that uses Ebates, it will automatically pop up the cashback button to make sure you are saving money. I use this all the time, and I got over 80$ back from them for purchases I was going to make anyways. That’s about 3 more albums I can buy!

If you’ve never used EBates before, you can use this link to get $10 when making a qualified purchase of $25 when using EBates. You will also get whatever percent cashback is being offered from the site you are purchasing from.  Sephora, typically has 4% cashback, through here. Sokoglam typically has 3%. These percentages Many other major retailers are on there as well. 

For the purposes of reading the remainder of this post, I recommend that you put the album on in the background, and read through it while listening to the track that I am talking about. This is what I recommend for all of my song reviews

Mino XX Track by Track

시발점 (Trigger)

This track 100% gave me the chills. I love how it just starts with him breathing in and out, and then the beat drops and I lost my shit. I actually really like the autotune in this track! It adds more pitch to the track since Mino isn’t a singer. It makes it really interesting and different. 

This track overall is extremely percussive. I love how he really layers all of the different layers of percussion. I also like how he pulls all of the percussion out for that girl humming. It pulls your ears back into the track. The mixing on this track is extremely clean and has a number of layers. Throughout the course of the track, he anchors it with the heavy bass sound that contrasts the pitch of his voice, which actually pulls the lyrics even farther forward so they can be more easily heard.

I really enjoy this track, and just based off of the first track alone, I have high expectations for the rest of the album.

아낙네 (Fiancé)

I have already gone and made you all a little treat in the form of me reacting to the music video. If you want to watch, here it is: 

Other thoughts besides the track being fire and me liking his lip piercing? I absolutely love the echoing guitar in the background and the simple rhythm that it adds to the track. It adds a bit of a lazy day sound. He also has this person saying “Ba-dum” over and over again very muted in the background. At first, it sounds like a creaking bed (like in EXO Tempo) going back and forth. Once I realized it is a person, I was like “that’s sick!”

Favorite parts of this track? When the beat drops at the chorus. The weird opera singer in the hook. She shifts the sound of the track that easily bridges the verse to the chorus. I also really love the lazy sound to the track. It adds a very sexy, laid-back feel to a track that is otherwise hardcore. 

So far, Mino is doing an amazing job. I’m as impressed as I wanted to be with this album.

소원이지 (Hope) – feat. 유병재 (Yoo Byung Jae)

I like how this track contrasts, but is also similar to the previous. They are both tied together with that lazy guitar sound. They also both have a number of echo elements added to them that phase one into the next. Despite these similarities, the tracks still sound drastically different. I’m not going to comment much on him bringing Yoo Byung Jae into the track. I personally am not a fan of his singing style, but he matches the song. He also has that slightly lazy feel to it.

Overall, I’m going to be honest, this track sounds like it is one of those “high on drugs” tracks, like My Van in NCT 127’s Regular-Irregular. Both tracks have those lazy guitar songs with lots of echo. It sounds almost dreamy, or like the day is so hot that you just don’t want to move. Yet again, I like the heavy percussion on this track and the anchoring sound of the bass. 

This is not my favorite track on this album, but I can appreciate it’s place in the album because it really highlights Mino’s strong rapping skills. It shows off his strong and clear dictation.

ㅇ2 (O2)

Okay, I absolutely love how this track starts off with the heavy techno sounds. I’m not sure what they are saying, but part of it definitely says “love you”. I also love how these heavy techno chords have a really high-pitched note that slides while the rest of the notes are straight. It adds contrast to the song from the beginning. Once the beat drops, the song is extremely clean with heavy percussion. 

I really like how the hook of this track pulls in the piano chords. It helps add movement to the track. Despite that, the melody in the chorus, I cannot help but feel like I have heard it before somewhere. The tune is extremely simple, and repetitive.

I also wish that he would have brought back those techno chords from the album somewhere later in the track to tie the beginning and the end of the track together. He could have also used them as an underlying layer in the track, but you don’t hear it again after the intro. He really could have played with the track by pulling that back in, as it’s the most interesting part. Adding just that element back into the track later would have elevated the track for me, taken it from 300 mg to 400 mg.

로켓 (Rocket)

I really enjoy how this track starts out. It’s hard, just like Mino’s rapping in the song. Throughout the song, Mino has excellent dictation which helps the song move forward. I like how in the lyrics he repeats the same rhythm in the hook to help the track build momentum to the chorus. He also plays with the dynamics of the instrumentation by taking it from mezzo forte to forte (semi-loud to loud) right before the beat drops.

Once the beat drops, the beat is extremely hard. It is easy for the ear to follow it, and I can definitely hear this track being played in a club. It has symmetry. Let’s be real, drunk people would struggle with something that didn’t have symmetry.

My favorite moment in the song is towards the end of the song where he has a rocket ship countdown and the plays with the rhythm and dynamics of the end part. He pulls the sound in and out from piano to forte (soft to loud) in a very rapid pattern. It jolts the ears awake, and it has energy to it.

흠 (Um) – feat. Blue.D

This is another one of those lazy day songs, down-tempo songs. This one doesn’t sound like a “high” track though. It sounds like a late at night with bae track. The song is incredibly sexy! To me, it is a track that perfectly describes… well… woohoo-ing? Yes, I went there. I used a term from the Sims. We may have children here though! 

There are a few things that I really enjoy about this track: the echoing xylophone chords throughout the track. Blue.D’s feature on the track is excellent. She definitely adds interest to the track, as well as taking it up a full octave with her breathy soprano vocals.

위로 해줄래 (Lonely)

I love the marimba chords at the beginning of this track with the snapping! It has a nice feel to it. It gives it a positive, upbeat sound to it, which is a big contrast from a number of the other tracks on here. Up to this point, I think this is the track on the album that uses staccato and accented notes the most. 

After reading through the lyrics, the composition of the song definitely adds to the “beagle-y” feel of the song. It’s like when you try to be all cute to get someone to hang out with you. I like the bounce that the track has. I also like the smoky vocals that he uses in the chorus to contrast the bounce of the chords. At that particular moment, it feels like the lyrics have taken the place of the beat, and the instrumentation is taking over the melody. It’s different, it’s interesting

오로라 (Aurora)

Yet again, Mino brought us another bouncy track. This song has a bit more of a sexy, sultry vibe to it. I love the legato, echo-y notes that are contrasted by the deep bass beat in the introduction that gets carried through the first verse. Once the track shifts to have the marimba sound added to it, it gets an even more bouncy sound to it. These marimbas get stronger through the chorus.

When listening through this track, I really like how this track actually has the feeling of an aurora. The verses, with their deep, ethereal sound, are like the night sky, without light. It feels mysterious. Once you find the lights that are an aurora, the track definitely has the bright, unhindered, happy sound to it, like the waves of an aurora. Honestly, Mino perfectly portrays the night sky through the instrumentation on this track, which is a challenge to do. I’m quite impressed.

어울려요 (Her)

This is the first true ballad on the album! I love how the beginning of the track is just an electric guitar and Mino. I don’t consider Mino to be much of a singer, so once all of the vocal chords and descants where he stacked his voice get added in the verse, I was very pleasantly surprised. This surprise only grows as we hit the chorus and he builds these gorgeous moving chords. I am extremely impressed.

This track is beautifully simple and complex at the same time. Mino expertly uses the contrast between the feeling of silence and sound throughout this track. He graces our ears with those gorgeous chords, then quickly pulls them out to add them back in a few moments. The song perfectly expresses that sense of wonder you feel when you are in love and looking at the person you love with another. It has that sense of emptiness while still expressing that sense of deep emotion.

암 (Agree)

This track is a complete contrast from the last one. We shift from this beautifully gorgeous simple track to an incredibly detailed, heavy rap track. This song has very heavy accented, staccato chords as well as a very deep bass sound that drives the song.

My favorite part of this track? Mino’s rap in this track is sick! It’s extremely fast, but also very accented with lots of syncopation. I’m impressed because this would be hard to sing without passing out, as there are barely any places that he can take a breath until the chorus, where the beat takes, and the vocals take a bit of a break. I feel out of breath just listening to this song. I have no idea how he does it!

불구경 (Bow Wow) – feat. YDG

Yet again, another track with a lit beat! I love the bit of vocal fry at the beginning that drops into the first verse. I really love how throughout the track he contrasts the heavy bass with these glass-like sounds. It raises the pitch of the track while adding interest, as these glass tones have a bit of dissonance in them that keeps your ears awake. That tone is definitely my favorite part of the track.

If I had to pick other things I like, I would say I love how Mino’s vocals are contrasted with YDG. YDG’s speaking voice is lower than Mino’s this creates a lot of interest in the track, especially when the pair are both rapping on top of each other towards the end of the song. Another thing I enjoy is the breathing sounds that he added, as well as that scream that you will hear in the background towards the end of the track. It makes your ear think “oh! what is that?”

알람 (Alarm)

Okay, I love the piano arpeggios at the beginning of this track! It is a complete contrast from the previous track. It has a much more soft feel to it. This feel continues with the muted percussion through the first verse. Even though the sounds are drastically different, the muted percussion beautifully contrasts the rhythm.

Yet again, Mino managed to create a song that perfectly matches the lyrics. He’s singing all about not wanting to get out of bed and keep dreaming. This track has that slightly dream-like but also awake feel at the same time, as the instrumentation and Mino’s vocals contrast each other. His vocals are extremely accented, in contrast to the instrumentation. It’s actually quite nice!

K-Crack Scale: 500 mg

So, I was actually going back and forth about what score to give this album, as I was sitting between giving this album a 400 and a 500 mg rating. But, I’m giving it 500, as all of my critiques are extremely nitpicky, and merely suggestions to take the album up another notch from where it already is. This is a top-notch album even without my little nit-picks on tracks like O2. 

So, should you pick up a copy of this album? Honestly, for a rap album, this is very good, and definitely worth the money. Mino is crazy creative, so I highly anticipate that the photo book for the album will be the same. Should you stream it? If all of my comments were just me nitpicking, then that tells you the album is pretty dang good. For a lot of people, a full rap album can be hard to listen to, but this one will not be.

What track off of the new album is your favorite? Let me know in the comments below, K-Nuggets!

사랑합니다!

–Rachel