To get the most out of the music of Lil Aaron Japan, you will need to edit it. This is true for a lot of rappers, of course, but for Lil Aaron Japan volume is a necessity because he raps. calm. We speak calm-calm. Its flow is a soft whisper with just the slightest hint of a groggy grater. Whatever you imagine in your head, it’s probably quieter. He raps like he’s taking a personal phone call in the office.
It’s a great flow, too clever to be a gimmick. Each word is like the tip of a brush that barely brushes the canvas; often the keys are inaudible. It’s a trip to see him rap in his videos because his lips barely move. And out of necessity, he raps to muted and delicate rhythms, many of which come from his own brother, who produces under the nickname Twan414.
Lil Aaron Japan and his brother are originally from Milwaukee and now live in Houston, which is interesting in itself – both are cities with distinct rap traditions, although one is a bit richer than the other. “I’m very in tune with the sound of the Midwest; I try to get as many people as possible, he tells me.
But while I hear a heavy dose of the Midwest in the tranquilizing slap of his single “Thinkin ‘,” his latest single “Lemonade” owes more to the murky minimalism of SoundCloud rap. Like most of his songs, there isn’t much too. It’s short and graceful, with a perfect beat pivot midway through. You can listen to it several times in a row.
“Lemonade” is a journey. I like that he has a beautiful writing on Lyrical Lemonade then wrote a song celebrating the accomplishment. But Lil Aaron’s approach in general is different. His videos have a distinct and hallucinatory feel. They are filled with clean white surfaces of Kubrickian and “John Wick” pinks and purples; even famed Milwaukee videographer TeeGlazed’s “Lemonade” visual is peppered with all those little breaks from the director’s usual house style.
And then there’s the nickname Lil Aaron Japan, which is also unusual. Although not punctuated as such, “Japan” is an acronym that he heard a lot in Houston and found cool. “I’m really on a laid back kind of laid back person,” he says, “so that worked out pretty well with the name choice.”
You can listen to Lil Aaron Japan’s new EP “Who Would Ever Thought” below.
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