Woah…woah…woah…WOAH! The new music just keeps coming. This time from EXO’s Kai. This is uncharted territory for me and let me be clear, this is more about Kai the soloist than it is about Kai the member of EXO. You may ask: how can she possibly separate one from the other? Yes, well I have to be 175% honest here. I have kept my distance from EXO for the most part because their fandom terrifies me. However, since warming to Kim Jongin’s best friend, Taemin, and exploring the wild and wonderful world of SuperM, I find myself slowly becoming familiar and more importantly, intrigued by the artist, Kai. As November 2020 came to an end, it was served up with the release of Kai’s first solo album, KAI (开), and with it, a new season began. The title track and introduction to this new release, Mmmh, is a pretty convincing invitation to experience not only the season of Kai but the reason why it is finally his time.
All of my Kai knowledge (which is not much), comes by way of his involvement with SuperM. It’s not that I had never heard of him, I just was never part of the EXO world to which he belonged. Even when I got Taemin-ed, I was likewise unaware of the deep and long-standing friendship between he and Kai. To be honest, I don’t feel like I have missed out. In fact, I feel as if I arrived at the most perfect and opportune time. All things for a reason. You see, this solo has perhaps been a long time coming, but the universe knows and conspires in ways we can never understand. So why not just embrace the journey, sit in awe, and watch a duly ignited star re-ignite only to burn even brighter. It is Kai’s time and trust me, Mmmh along with the five other tracks on this well-planned solo debut will set you on fire, and that’s a good thing.
The song. In its minimalistic structure, Mmmh packs a powerful, sensual punch. OMG, seriously, I am thrilled that Øffshore crew member, Junny, is the proverbial man behind the curtain and architect of this slow grind R&B groove that Kai absorbs and makes his own. Straightforward and unapologetic, Mmmh is all about the heady and intoxicating side of love. Kai’s vocal delivery is nothing short of seductive. He was made for this kind of music and that becomes even more evident when he adds movement and choreography to the mix.
The MV. As I mentioned, I am not very well versed in all things Kai, but I do know one solid fact: he is a remarkably powerful and graceful dancer. With incredible ease and control, Kai guides us through the cosmic world of Mmmh where fantasy and seduction collide. Teleporting from scene to scene, the story line feels somewhat erratic but when is space travel, fantasy or love for that matter, a smooth ride? Regardless of the backdrop, it is Kai himself who stands out and is never out-shadowed by any CGI or special effects (but some of them are pretty cool ~ note towards the end, the stop action freeze of a dancing Kai crumbling into crystal disintegration). To point, Kai’s visuals are no joke.
MV aside, I am personally impressed by Kai’s vocals not only here in Mmmh, but throughout the entire album. My only complaint is that there are only six songs. However, I have to believe that the six contained on this debut album were chosen carefully to ensure a perfect fit. It is no small feat to create music, to communicate as an artist the tone, the voice, the feel of how they wish to express their art in a way that is true to themselves along with a hope to connect with and satisfy fans. I have read that many EXO fans were frustrated and discouraged over the delay in the release of Kai’s solo project. To that let me say, to every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven. So now that it is finally here, wasn’t it worth the wait?
Breathe out and exhale like Mmmmh . . .
Check out all of KAI (开) here: