Whooo first album review let’s go! I just listened to Olltii’s new album ‘졸업’ or ‘Graduation’ all the way through and rated the tracks (skits excluded) in iTunes based off my first listen. Now we all know that after a couple of listens our feelings about different songs can change. Some songs may grow on me and who knows, maybe I’ll be sick of Fallin’ in a month (but I doubt it, right now it’s my favorite track because Crucial Star). Anywho, let’s get into it:
Like me, maybe the first you heard of Olltii was his remix of Kendrick Lamar’s ‘Rigamortis’ from his mixtape Rappin Oll’day. He was also on SMTM3 this summer.That was almost three years ago when he was mad young and so now his first album is finally here.
I wasn’t sure what to expect but I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. The theme of this album is his progression through high school leading up to graduation so it definitely has a nostalgia-inducing groove to it. Also, please know (because unfortunately I am NOT fluent in Korean) that my analysis is limited to the sound and feel of the tracks for now. Hopefully all the lyric translations will be available soon. Here’s a quick recap track-by-track:
Track 1 – 굴레 (Cycle)
(4/5 stars) This track is a great start to the album. It begins with what sounds like Olltii being woken up for school. I liked this song as soon as it started with that jazzy keyboard/high-hat combo. Will for sure have this one on repeat.
Track 2 – 첫걸음 (Step by Step) (feat. 기린, Plastic Kid)
(3/5 stars) This one is fun. I definitely thought I was listening to 1Punch for a second there. I don’t when this recent 90s wave hit Korea but I like it. I don’t know who 기린 is but I really enjoy his vocals on the chorus. The scratching is courtesy of disc jockey Plastic Kid on the track. I think I will like this one the more I listen to it.
Track 3 – 31035
(4/5 stars) I like this revamped version of Olltii’s remix of Chance the Rapper’s ‘Good A** Intro’ a lot better than the original (see it below). You can find the lyrics here. The mixing is really great and it has a lot more character than the original which is for the most part just Olltii rapping over Chance’s beat. When I first discovered Olltii I really liked his flow and I think 31035 showcases it the best.
Track 4 – 설레 (Excited) (feat. 백예린 Of 15&)
(4/5 stars) YAAAS to Baek Yerin’s vocals, this was a genius collab. The 17-year-old singer is one half of JYP duo 15&. The lyrics deal with the excited feelings between friends who are flirting and about to enter a relationship. The puppy love that is often experienced in your teenage years is conveyed well.
Track 6 – Oll’ Skool
(4/5 stars) I had not seen the music video below (released back in November) so I was NOT expecting this hype track. I am actually a big fan of the heavier hip hop feel of this one. It sounds like something that would be performed live on Show Me The Money (yes that was a ‘Turn Up!’ in the background). This is a sound that’s more popular recently because of the Illionaire/YG/Bobby crew. I think Olltii departs from his usual style with this song but I don’t dislike it.
Track 7 – 96 Problems (feat. 차메인, Don Malik, DJ Kendrickx)
(2/5 stars) Purely from a musical stand point, this one wasn’t really special if you ask me. It’s not bad but it’s not great either. I think I will for sure need the lyrics to appreciate this one fully.
Track 8 – 결석 (Absent)
(2/5 stars) This is more of an interlude than a full track. I actually like the instrumental but could have done without the effects on Olltii’s voice. Once again, perhaps my mind will change with the lyrics.
Track 10 – Fallin’ (feat. Crucial Star)
(5/5 stars) This is the only track that got a 5 out of 5 for me and for good reason. Crucial Star is one of my favorite Korean R&B artists and you really can’t go wrong with a collab with him. This song, even though it’s closer to the end, is really the turning point in the album for me. I will be the first to admit that lyrics are a really important component of a song so I’m excited for the translation for this one. Even without them, you can hear a narrative unfold. This track just has a more mature sound and you can infer from the title and feel that the mood is different and the content is a bit more serious.
Track 11 – 졸업 (이젠 안녕) [Graduation (Now It’s Goodbye)]
(3/5 stars) This one is Olltii’s take on a classic 90s Korean song called ‘이젠 안녕’ (Now It’s Goodbye). I have somehow definitely heard it before (probably on Running Man or something). Listen to it below:
The American equivalent would definitely be something along the lines of ‘Graduation (Friends Forever)’ by Vitamin C. I didn’t like this track as much as I was hoping to, but it’s definitely more meaningful with the music video:
Track 12 – 첫걸음 (GJ ver.) (feat. Evo)
(3/5 stars) This is the ‘GJ version’ (whatever that means…someone want to enlighten me?) of Track 2. I don’t know much about Evo but I know he has worked with Paloalto before. I’m not sure if I like Track 12 better than Track 2 or if it’s just different.
So there you have it! I may update this post with a link to the lyric translations when they become available. In the meantime, you can get the album here.