Like many 2019 and 2020 debuts, Exile Tribe’s Ballistik Boyz haven’t really had a fair shake of it. Building your fan base is hard in the midst of a socially distanced pandemic, but the guys have continued to release material that paints them as the energetic, rough-and-tumble younger brothers to their Exile senior acts. Though they experiment every now and then, their music is usually rooted in hip-hop. But apart from their bombastic debut Tenhane (1000%), I always find myself enjoying their b-sides more than their singles.
This continues with Animal, whose b-side track Like Is A Party practically screams “summer single.” Animal opts for a trendier sound, cribbing from many of the sonic elements that make up much of today’s hip-hop, including the dreaded “skrrt.” You’ll often catch me railing against ill-placed trap breaks within K-pop and J-pop, but I can appreciate a trap-infused song that’s intentional about what it is. Animal doesn’t feel aimless. It sets itself up as a groovy mid-tempo hip-hop/r&b track and largely succeeds in this aim.
This is due to a strong hook at Animal’s core. The chorus isn’t particularly fancy, but it harnesses a delicious melodic sweep that matches the instrumental well. I could do without some of the affectations surrounding it, but this is an otherwise grade-A head-nodder. It helps that Ballistik Boyz have a surprisingly rich set of vocalists who bring a ton of personality to the track. I may not necessarily believe they’re “wild wild animals,” but they certainly know how to deliver a swaggering performance.