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First Thoughts: Far East Movement, 'Identity'

Their fans literally sit on opposite sides of the globe and this album combines the best of both very well.

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Far East Movement is back after four years gone missing. Their last album, Dirty Bass, was released in 2012 and we've heard almost nothing since. But on Friday (October 21), their newest EPIdentity dropped and has the group finding a more mature, eclectic, and still as fun of a sound as ever.

If I had to describe this album in one word, it would be unity. Far East Movement originated in Los Angeles in Koreatown, but brought Asian influence to their music throughout the years. With labels claiming the group was "too Asian" or wondering how they can make them less so, Far East Movement set out to define their own sound while releasing this new record under their own company Transparent Agency. Identity combines a variety of sounds and styles from pop and trap to Asian and electronic, and contains songs with lyrics in both English and Korean. The album covers everything from pushing on and surviving to f--king bitches and getting money. After four long years, is there still a movement from the Far East?

"Freal Luv"

Freal Luv is Identity's lead single. The song features Chanyeol and Tinashe on a great pop/electronic sound. The main synth riff reminds me of the Far East Movement from six years ago. The production feels American-inspired, but the music video is based in Asia--a good example of their juxtaposition.

"SXWME"

One of my favorite tracks due to its beat, SXWME brings club drums and a vocoder together for a good time. American-born Korean rapper Jay Park raps over the beat that leaves nothing to the imagination, asking listeners if they do, in fact, want to "engage" with him.

"Umbrella"

While the fun side of Far East Movement is always my favorite, the group shows more depth and maturity on this album and "Umbrella" is a great example of that. Featuring Hyolyn and Gill Chang, the group does a great job of drawing the fine line between satisfying both the American and Asian audiences that make up their fan base. While I don't know the lyrics here, the song has interesting instrumentation and is sung beautifully. Containing some American pop elements, I can see this one having the best potential of being a crossover hit.

"Forever Survivor"

While the album has its fair share of party cuts, there are still many inspirational uplifting songs and none may be better than this one with Macy Gray. Her raspy heartfelt vocals make the song feel personal and genuine, tying the album together nicely.

After six long years, Far East Movement can now rejoice with Identity. Their fans literally sit on opposite sides of the globe and this album combines the best of both worlds very well. It isn't afraid to switch from discussing overcoming the odds and strength to being out on the town looking to hook up. The most impressive thing is the seamless merging of two entire cultures into one album. Hell, even Soulja Boy is featured on a song with a Korean artist. It's taken some years for Far East Movement to find their identity, but it looks like they're continuing to come into their own nicely.

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