Tatsumi Chibana: Atarashii Sekai
Atarashii Sekai (New World) is the first solo album by Tatsumi Chibana who is best known as an Okinawan hip-hop artist. Chibana is especially renowned for his Duty Free Shopp project and in particular for the powerful song ‘Tami no Domino’ which angrily describes the plight of Okinawa under virtual occupation by dangerous American military forces. The song was co-written with Kakumakushaka and was on their joint 2006 album Oto Ashagi. This new solo release is the first recording he has done since that album as he has been busy in the meantime with writing and producing for other artists.
Chibana’s previous recordings with Duty Free Shopp have focused more on his hip-hop style but they have also included a fair amount of experimental work across different rock and pop genres. Atarashii Sekai is also wide-ranging in its musical influences but there is less emphasis on rapping and more of a cohesive sound which is more pop-oriented. In fact, some of this would even sound at home alongside J.Pop heavyweights such as Ketsumeishi. And it’s none the worse for that.
The title track which opens the album has a dash of sanshin by Chibana which sets it firmly in Okinawan territory. He later joins forces again with Kakumakushaka on ‘Yume Kakeru Toki’ which includes a shared vocal on a song which addresses problems in society. Taiyofu Orchestra are the other guests and they appear on ‘Tabi Dachi’. For the rest of the album Chibana relies on combinations of guitar, bass, keyboards and drums. One of the outstanding tracks is ‘Mega Kowai’ which is probably best described as island ska.
The six years since Chibana’s previous album has taken him out of the spotlight as a singer and performer. But here he shows that he hasn’t forgotten how to create and deliver a song and he has written and produced the entire album himself. Atarashii Sekai is a very enjoyable listen and is full of good songs with topical island themes and uncompromising political viewpoints. All of this is presented in a very accessible new sound and the general high quality is maintained throughout the 43 minutes.
Atarashii Sekai is released on Akagawara.