[Album Review] 2 Baddies / Ay-Yo (4th Studio Album / 4th Studio Album Repackaged) – NCT 127

Also flagged early last week, I would be fast-tracking (depending on which album you are looking at) the album review for 2 Baddies and Ay-Yo, NCT 127’s 4th studio album and the repackaged version of the same album, respectively. Both albums features the title track of the same name (links below) and a total of 13 additional tracks. 2 of these 13 additional tracks were added to the album as part of the repackaged version, which dropped on 30 January 2023. The original version of the album, 2 Baddies, dropped back in September 2022. This 4th album is another strong display from the group and there are a few 10/10 tracks on the album. Find out which tracks I am talking about, and my thoughts on the entire album and the repackaged version below. I fear if I continue waffling on in this intro (as I am doing now), this album review will never see the light or day (at least until next weekend).

1. Ay-Yo (Title Track)Click here to read the review for Ay-Yo. (8/10)

2. Faster Faster served as the opening track for the 2 Baddies version of the album. And it was a great start. Faster is loaded with energy, but it is all delivered in a subtle manner. And that is what I really enjoyed about the song, as it is all quite unsuspecting. I really liked the minimalist hook to the song, which is an add on to that subtle touch. Elsewhere, there was powerful bass to the song that just heightens everything else and acts as a solid base to the song. The members brought texture to the song via their rapping and there were some growling to bring forth an aggressive side to Faster. The car sounds in the background were also a cool touch to the song. (9/10)

3. 2 Baddies (질주) (Title Track)Click here to read the review for 2 Baddies. (7.5/10)

4. Time Lapse – A mid-tempo R&B track follows the title track. I am not entirely fond of the electronic start. It is another case of an intro that adds no value to the song. The electronic elements do appear in the song, but I don’t think that justifies the start. Aside from that, Time Lapse was a satisfying track. I did want more of a backing during the choruses to give the song a bit more substance. It felt a tad empty, in my opinion and there wasn’t anything for the vocals to anchor themselves to. Talking about vocals, it was Time Lapse’s wining element. I really liked how the vocals and harmonies pull you in and captivate you, especially during the chorus where all the members sung together. (7/10)

5. DJDJ is one of the new tracks added to the album alongside the release of Ay-Yo. I really liked the jazzy vibes that this track has. It brought a smile to my face. You can say the exact same thing with the energy that the members put into this song. DJ also stands out for me for its balance between vocals and raps. NCT 127 tends to be geared towards the rap, as they are hip-hop dance genre type of group based on their choreography. However, I really liked the pleasant nature and the bigger presence the vocalists had in the song, whilst the rapping gives DJ a nice boost of enthusiasm and makes it feels like a NCT 127 release. (8.5/10)

6. Crash Landing (불시착)Crash Landing brings about a nice balance between hip-hop and R&B. I liked how the percussion was used, giving off mini/soft punches in the instrumental. The twinkling like synth that starts off the song and makes its presence known by repeating in the background was quite intriguing. Again, the vocalists flourish in this song, with their smooth vocal delivery during their parts and the simple R&B melody that they brought to life in Crash Landing. And I liked how the rapping also stood out with the chanting in the chorus and how they made the rappers made themselves known in the second verses. (8/10)

7. Designer Designer starts off like any other NCT 127 song, where the synths here hinted at some badass and possibly tough and powerful. But the song, very shortly after the opening second of the song, breaks down into a much gentler song thanks to the twinkling percussion and a more mellow approach to vocals and raps. The union of vocals in the chorus was a highlight in my book for Designer. I like how the raps still had a rough exterior to them, which keeps the song feeling like an NCT 127 track. I also enjoyed the change in momentum for the bridge. Come to the think of it, the cohesiveness of Designer is definitely a standout element of the track. (9/10)

8. Gold Dust (윤슬) – Doyoung and Jaehyun’s acapella (with slight autotuning) was an impressive start and end to Gold Dust, respectively. The R&B ballad continued with a very minimalistic approach to the instrumentation, allowing the vocals for NCT 127 to really stand out and be the main driver of the song. The melodies were wonderful and so charming. The rappers kept a low profile during their segments, but still had enough kick to make themselves known in the song. I really liked the way Mark built up the song in the bridge and Doyoung carried on the momentum effortlessly in the bridge. Everything in this track oozed a golden tone to it, which makes perfect sense give the title of the song. (10/10)

9. Black Clouds (흑백 영화) Black Clouds is another track I am impressed with. This is a more vocally driven track, with Black Clouds gearing towards a pop/R&B style ballad. That being said, Mark and Taeyong’s rapping does fit into the track really well. This is thanks to what sounded more like a band instrumental that brings a good beat and substantial definition to the song. I really like it when the members all sing together, especially for the “Rain, Rain Up in my head” post-chorus hook. The melodies in Black Cloud also made is a super easy listen, which I really enjoyed. (10/10)

10. Playback – I am not fond of the metallic percussive synth that appears in the instrumental. While it has it charm and is quite playful, it is quite jarring and sticks out like a sore thumb in my opinion. Its presence, no matter how hard I try to suppress any thoughts about it, just distracts me from the other elements of Playback. Though what I could make out in Playback were playful melodies and neat vocals. The slight buffering at the end of the bridge was cool (I honestly thought my internet was down at that point for a brief second). (6/10)

11. Skyscraper (마천루)Skyscraper is the album’s most loaded and intense hip-hop affair on the album. It is the third new song added to the repackaged album. It definitely adds a blast (and more!) of energy to the album’s tracklist. I really liked how the powerful side of the group is shown in Skyscraper, in both vocals and rapping. I did think the song could have used a more innovative instrumental. Add in some electric guitars and unfamiliar synths that brings a whole lot more texture to the song. This way, Skyscraper could have stood out and been an alternative title track choice. (8/10)

12. Tasty (貘)Tasty is a cool track, bringing together hip-hop and EDM. A typical combination for NCT 127, but Tasty overlooks that. I liked the descending rhythm the track had and how the vocals contributed to the rapping in this song. I also found a lot of the rapping to be alluring and tempting (i.e., the deep ‘So Tasty’ we get in the chorus). Tasty had some really strong hooks that is constantly replaying in my head and I liked the intensification of the EDM for the dance break. It was an unexpected amplification that just emphasized that cool factor. (10/10)

13. VitaminVitamin brings forth a funky tone to the album, reminiscent of the 90s. The hook was super catchy and definitely concentrates NCT 127’s hip-hop presence quite well. The addition of brass for the final chorus was a very welcomed and logical addition for this song. Elsewhere, I think the song could have used some extra work. But Vitamin is definitely a strong song, nonetheless. (8/10)

14. LOL (Laugh-Out-Loud) – The brass makes a return and has a heavier presence in this upbeat and funky pop dance track. I liked the feel-good vibes of this song and how pleasant the vocals and rapping sound in the track. LOL is not the most memorable track on this album, but it is the album’s most brightest and vibrant track. (8/10)

15. 1, 2, 7 (Time Stops)1, 2, 7 ends off both the 2 Baddies and Ay-Yo album and also has an accompanying music video. I really enjoyed the groovy undertones overall smoothness of the track. You can also feel the sweetness behind the members and their voices. It all makes for another pleasant track. And a nice one to ease out of this album, as well. Mark and Taeyong’s rapping in this song is also a fun sequence in the song. (8.5/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.4/10


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