[This review reflects the opinions of the author and not necessarily those of allkpop.]
2. Nothing On Me
5. Ride Or Die
6. Hello Stranger
After a fresh solo debut, KAI has released his first-ever mini-album named after himself! KAI features 6 really delightful tracks that took me by surprise. I had always been exposed to KAI through the lens of EXO, and I never felt his EXO raps to be very impactful. Admittedly, I went into this album, expecting what I expected of him from his time in EXO, but much to my pleasure, he blew me out of the water. KAI is not your typical EXO Kai. This is a remarkable soloist with an array of talent that has been stifled up until this point.
"Mmmh" is KAI's title track, an alluring and mysterious song that's sultry, sexy R&B appeal is undeniable. I can honestly say that I and many others were blindsided by the sound he released (in a good way!). I'm not sure why I didn't expect him to sing so well, because, for lack of a better word - he's so good (outstanding). Sultry, catchy, and compelling, "Mmmh" is a perfect debut solo track.
The album continues with "Nothing On Me," which very much sits adjacent to "Mmmh." A bit haunting and mysterious in the intro, the song really takes off in the chorus with a drop that leaves you with goosebumps. It seems that SM is applying the Taemin blueprint here, and it's working phenomenally for KAI as he develops his signature sound. "Amnesia" is a bit more downtempo and sounds a bit more reminiscent of his sound in EXO. The song isn't as exciting as the two releases prior but still keeps the central sultry vibe well.
I was expecting a club song eventually, and I got it with "Reason." "Reason" is provocative, bass-booming, and enjoyable beyond belief. The contrast between the edginess of his rap delivery and smooth singing is perfection. "Ride Or Die" is the album's ballad track... or so you think! The song's speed ramps up a third of the way in and gives an eighties synth-heavy instrumental that carries the melody well. I can picture sitting in a car with the windows down, zooming around a mountain round to this track!
Rather than end on a slow ballad that would be uncharacteristic of KAI in general, he opts to conclude the album on "Hello Stranger," effectively closing the lid on the album with a definitive snap. The song is a phenomenal conclusion to the range he's given us on this album, and I'm curious to see where his solo career develops.
For those of you concerned, the music video for "Mmmh" is just as sultry and sexy as the song itself. KAI's performance is ultra-sleek and chic, a perfect complement to the video's futuristic and minimalist appeal. Styling was kept simple but maintained an edgy appeal that worked well for KAI and the overall aesthetic of the MV concept. Like Baekhyun said in his and Kai's reaction video, it seems like they used the allotted budget on KAI's video than any EXO MV.
KAI has always been a phenomenal dancer, so the choreography does not disappoint. Though there is no overt story to tell in this MV, the song's lyrics are conveyed well through the intricate movements in his choreography. KAI is well on his way to joining Taemin in the ranks of luminary SM soloists if he continues to deliver work of this caliber.
MV Score: 9.0
Album Score: 9.3