Even though I’ve been listening to Loco for a while, it’s hard to believe that it wasn’t until this year that he finally put out a full length studio album. Released under Jay Park’s A.O.M.G. label, BLEACHED is definitely a well-executed debut effort, especially for those that thought that the always-featured-never-solo rapper wouldn’t be able to pull together a full length ideation of sound without it getting boring or having to rely too heavily on featured artists.

There’s a lot of great things about BLEACHED and most of it revolves around Loco’s success in putting out a solid, well-produced, cohesive body of music. What I thought was best about this album was how easily (and quickly) the album flowed. Although it is has consistent production and musical motifs throughout, it never gets boring. No song seems out of place in the overall vision of the album and each song is its own unique track. The order of tracks is well executed as well as faster bops are followed by more contemplative moody raps followed by mid-tempo quirky R&B/hip-hop crossovers. This may have something to do with the features on this album–a pretty high profile list containing artists like DPR Live, DEAN, Crush, and SUMIN. Each artist added his/her own unique flair to the overall vision of the album and it was easy to listen and think “Oh, this is definitely a DEAN sort of song” or “Wow, this reminds me a lot of Hoody’s album”. Part of this has to do with the production (as most of the songs from these artists do come from the same producers). However, each featured artist’s unique musical perspective really added to the album’s sound and it may have been boring without this collaborative aspect.

That’s not to say Loco doesn’t hold his own against the great featured artists on BLEACHED. The reason this album is so cohesive and tightly packed is because the entire album is held together by Loco’s unique tone and cadence and the musical motifs of more funky guitar (I think every track on this album featured some guitar at one point or another?), bass, and the A.O.M.G. producers’ signature Korean R&B synth sound throughout create a distinctive “Loco” sort of sound. The whole thing is overall chill and light, the production lowkey but playful and purposeful. Nothing seems overproduced and does a great job of being balanced and relaxed, something you would listen to on long car rides or lazy Sunday afternoons. It seems Loco has found his niche in the hodgepodge indie Korean R&B and hip hop scene, one he has been developing for years. The confidence he has in his own musical identity is never clearer than it was on this album for the longtime featured artist–at no point does Loco ever fall in the shadow of his featured artists (impressive when you’re sharing the spotlight with talent like DEAN or SUMIN and working with producers like GRAY and Woogie), remaining front and center as the mood maker of every track on the album.

I do have a few small problems with BLEACHED. First, although the album itself was never boring in terms of tempo and production, some individual songs seemed to be boring as self-contained tracks. Perhaps they were too long or the production wasn’t evolved enough as the song moved forward. I wouldn’t pull any tracks from this album by any means but it seemed that some reached their full potential around the 1:45 mark and then stopped being interesting (ie. “MOVIE SHOOT”, “So Bad”, “Tiger”). Another drawback: this album rarely takes any chances musically. Although I definitely like the album and there are specific tracks I’ll listen to again and again, the whole thing is very expected from an A.O.M.G. artist. The tracks are chill and relaxed and definitely a fun listen. But are they surprising and exciting? Not necessarily. However, I can wait for more experimentalism for the next album. Loco’s main challenge with BLEACHED was proving he’s more than a featured artist and the skill with which he assembled talent, producers, and sound into such a compact and cleanly crafted debut album shows he has what it takes to be his own independent solo artist. But next time…I’ll be expecting something great now that I know he can put out good albums.

My favorite tracks are “A.O.M.G.” (I just really like GRAY productions and this is a great album opener), “Too Much” (this is my favorite song btw), “DA DA DA”, “Still”, and “Rewind”. Half the album I know sorry not sorry…