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Friday, Feb. 6, 2009



Coma-Chi "Red Naked"

Even the most optimistic critic could be excused for approaching with trepidation the major-label debut for one of only a handful of domestic female rappers. But fears that 24-year-old Coma-Chi is about to deliver a pale imitation of a genre exhausted in the early 2000s by the likes of Missy Elliott and Eve are nixed within the explosive first two tracks of "Red Naked."

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The swirling opening to "Himitsu" ("Secret") is a regal introduction that swiftly switches tone to dynamic electro beats. Coma-Chi's sweet and lush voice first announces her arrival before delivering a commanding mix of Japanese and English rhymes. Most importantly, the production on "Himitsu," like the baiting "Name Tag" that follows, shows a clear sense of melody and a debt to pop music that echoes Kanye West.

Rarely do debuts in any genre come as fully formed as "Red Naked," juxtaposing the artful bare-bones rhymes of "Me & My Kicks" with the trance-pop of "Material World." It may not be perfect — the album's intro seems a dispensable afterthought, and while "Perfect Angel" showcases Coma-Chi's admirable singing voice, it's a forced J-pop ballad well out of place here. In the small world of Japanese female rappers, though, it will take considerable talent to top it.

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