The name "Kris Wu" may not be a household name in America but in China, Wu is a mega star. With his debut album, Antares, and its success, the Chinese-Canadian is proving to be a force here in the West as well.
The album consists of 14 tracks, three of which are in Mandarin. All of the songs have strong hip-hop and R&B flavors with which his voice - soft but deep with rough undertones - gives an edge.
“I chop the top of the coupe / I'm tryna speed to you / We got a penthouse suite / We got a crazy view / I'm working harder than you / Ain't gon' lie that's true," he taunts, and it is hot.
The tunes, both English and Mandarin, are earworms themselves. Sophisticated and sexy, they are the kind of tunes that would blast in an exclusive underground club on a Friday night. The Mandarin songs, in particular, emphasize on R&B while the English songs focus on hip-hop and rap.
“The next landing place / Is once again a bolt from the blue / I'm already standing on the higher ground / There's no way I'll give up, ye," Wu croons in Mandarin, and he's convincing.
Antares features some of the biggest names here in the West. Rich the Kid (Coupe), Jhené Aiko (Freedom), and Travis Scott (Deserve) bounce off Wu and his lethargic energy to create symphonies that are not only smooth but also sharp.
Wu, however, isn't without his faults. Some songs, such as November Rain and Selfish, drip with autotune that while catchy at first quickly become dull.
Moreover, his lyrics are a hit or miss. Sometimes, they seem like they are trying to be more than they are promoting them as awkward than slick.
"Out of sight out of mind / Tell 'em I never mind / Then I pull up, I pull up, I pull up, yeah," Wu assures us but not quite... “Suicide when I can't see my shawty / Know they try but they can't be my shawty," he laments, but really, his voice is what saves his words.
Antares dropped Nov. 2 and immediately after its release, reached #1 on iTunes. However, people - specifically fans of Ariana Grande - accused Wu of using bots to get to the top.
The singer was soon embroiled in a controversy of whether or not he really did use bots. It turned out that Wu just has really passionate fans in East Asia, and it is easy to understand why.
Antares is not the the best hip-hop/rap/R&B album out there, but it is a good one for a debut. Wu has the voice, the charisma, and the vibrancy for fans, old and new, to stand by him for a long time.
The songs that shine in Antares are Like That, Freedom ft. Jhené Aiko, Hold Me Down (both versions), Deserve ft. Travis Scott, Tian Di, and Coupe ft. Rich the Kid.