TAEYONG – TAP

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NCT’s TAEYONG is serious about having and sustaining a solo career, and if you doubt him still, you should take a listen to the songs on TAP. If you did, you’ll likely get caught up in their energy, vibe, and dare I say it, even charisma. The mini-album, released on February 26, is complete with six tracks that TAEYONG not only had written but oversaw the composing and overall production of. So of course, in addition to all the good things about the project, it sounds authentically like TAEYONG.

Apart from playing a bigger part in the making of this project, he also vividly displayed the maturity he’s accrued since the release of his debut EP SHALALA. There’s still that dance and vibrant element from his SHALALA days leaking into this newer project, but the songs are more diversified, with alternative R&B even creeping into his song “Moon Tour,” which suavely equates love with the immensity and eternity of the solar system.

A minute feels like hours / You got solar power / We shower in starlight / It’s my golden hour,” he sings in the track, going on to describe the fun they can have on this unusual adventure together. But be rest assured, “Even if this tour is over / I’ll still love you to the moon and back / Like eternal starlight.”

The title, and first, track of the EP, “TAP” is a groovy hip-hop track with a witty rap flow and addictive beat. In the song, he encourages everyone to be confident in the choices they make even whilst they’re in a relationship. He perfectly brings this careless joy to life in the music video, where he is seen at various locations just being himself. And of course, the little glimpses of perfect choreography we are allowed to see in intervals are enough to make anyone push to replay, even if the song’s cheeky energy wasn’t enough to make you do so.

Not content to mix rap, R&B, and hip-hop into one record, his third track “Run Away” brought its own new energy and vibe to the entire project, especially since it was heavily rock-influenced. So as he sings about trying to get a would-be lover to stay put long enough to actually fall in love, we get treated to warm guitar riffs that are complemented by his energetic voice.

Not only does the beat vary to suit the energy of the song, but he’s also not afraid to vary his singing style when it calls for it, like when he conveniently whisper-sings in “Ups & Downs” to highlight the song’s emotional and melancholy message.

The album’s closing track “404 Loading” acts as kind of a response track to his SHALALA effort “404 File Not Found.” However, whilst the latter detailed the feelings of loneliness, the former dwelled on how to overcome them, sandwiching this message in between lyrics that describe the positive impacts of finding love.

He really came into his own in this album and remarkably showed how creative and diverse he’s grown, where only a few years ago, he was almost perfectly covered in the arms of one of K-pop’s biggest boy bands.