Code Kunst is a producer under YG Entertainment’s HIGHGRND sublabel, aimed towards indie and alternative musicians. HIGHGRND is headed by Epik High’s Tablo, who I’m personally a huge fan of; I follow him on SNS and caught him hyping up the album and the track he’s featured on with G.Soul, so I figured I’d give it a listen to.
I have never fallen in love with an album more quickly than I did with MUGGLES’ MANSION.
This entire album oozes chill vibes, the kind of smooth, laidback hip hop that you can just put on and enjoy on a good day. Artistic (Intro) sets the pace for the rest of the album, with each track seamlessly segueing into the next. The second half of 향수 (Feat. 넉살) really stood out to me the first time I heard it, the repetition of the lyrics somehow giving it a harder edge. It sort of had me jolting out of a reverie brought about by the chill beats, which was an interesting thing to do in an album – especially when it goes straight back to the chill beats with THIS IS (Feat. C Jamm).
Then came Fire Water (Interlude) followed by FIRE WATER (Feat. G.Soul, TABLO) and boy was that a pleasure to listen to.
G.Soul’s voice is smooth (like butter) and paired wonderfully with Tablo’s skilled rapping and Code Kunst’s smoother beats. This track had me melting, I tell you.
StrOngerrr (Feat. 로꼬, MINO) was a pleasant surprise since I quite like Mino, it’s a shame he doesn’t get to be in the spotlight more in his own right – even in this song he’s in the chorus and not the main verses. MORE FIRE is another instrumental track that seems to serve as a bridge between the first and second half of the album – they’re both laidback, but the latter seems to carry a different kind of energy compared to the former, starting with Born from the Blue (Feat. JUSTHIS). This song gave me a strong Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann OST vibe for some reason, which is a good thing since the soundtrack for that anime is phenomenal.
The three rappers on Cruz (Feat. Loopy, PUNCHNELLO, Ugly Duck) have distinctly different styles which meshed together well on this track, which makes it interesting to listen to. X (Feat. 이하이) is one of the more higher-tempo songs in this album, going with the theme of a woman who’s decided she’s had enough and deserves better and is off to find a new man. I was honestly surprised by this song since I’ve never heard Lee Hi sing before, and this kind of sultry strong voice reminiscent of Kitti B was not what I’d expected from her, but I like it.
PARACHUTE (Feat. 오혁, Dok2) is one of my absolute top three favourites from this album, along with Beside Me (Feat. BewhY, YDG, Suran) and Lounge (Feat. 화지); they’re the real highlights, in my opinion. I have a thing for vocalists like Oh Hyuk and Suran; Suran featured on Agust D’s mixtape and the track Winter Bird she released last winter was beautiful, but the sultry jazzy style she sang with in Beside Me really blew me away. Unlike Lee Hi, it was completely unexpected precisely because I’ve heard Suran sing before, and that kind of voice from Suran totally hit me out of the blue. Lounge served as a good end to the overall theme, a relaxed beat that ties up the album nicely.
The final two songs don’t seem to fit in with the overall theme of the album: White AnxiEty (Outro) (Feat. Colde of offonoff) is more offonoff than Code Kunst, with its minimalist instrumentals and Colde’s almost ethereal vocals, while Don’t shoot me MAMA (Feat. Car, the garden) similarly highlighted Car, the garden’s style rather than Code Kunst’s, especially with the acoustic guitar strumming that’s glaringly absent from the rest of the album. It could be some form of promotion for offonoff and Car, the garden, since from what I can gather offonoff is signed under HIGHGRND but still very much under the radar, and Car, the garden is as independent as they come. It would explain how both songs seemingly don’t match the tone of the album per se, but they’re good songs nevertheless.
The best thing about MUGGLES’ MANSION is that the featured artists all mesh well each other. Each of them shine on their respective tracks, with the rappers all equally standing out in their verses. I don’t know if he chooses the artists he wants to work with himself or the label recommends them to him, but either way they all fit his tracks so well, I’m honestly rendered almost emotional by how effortlessly smooth this whole album was. Listening to it for the first time was a real experience, I’d say.
10/10 would recommend, an absolute experience, am definitely a fan of him now.