LAY (Lay Zhang) of EXO fame has released his highly-anticipated first-part of his digital album, and music video titled LIT.

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything on mainstream Asian pop music, but LAY’s latest quenched the dry-spell. The video features gorgeous imagery all focused around traditional China, combining historical elements with LAY’s contemporary Rap flare. I was also impressed by the way the choreography combined Hip Hop dance styles like Krump with martial arts-esque movement. It’s a total East meets West kind of vibe, all the way down to the diverse cast of backup dancers, and the song is equally as powerful. The entire album takes on this traditional-contemporary approach and I find that kind of stuff so dope. Jade, LAY’s previous single, is a personal fave and goes hard. No surprise since he worked with Murda Beatz (YES) on it!

LIT is a two-part release featuring six songs each. All twelve songs on the EP are co-written by LAY himself, who personally co-produced every track, ensuring his message and story is clearly instilled in each song. LAY worked with producer heavyweight Murda Beatz (Travis Scott, Gucci Mane, Drake) on the EP. The new project strongly holds a backbone in modern hip-hop with an enjoyable sound, never done before.

For this first part of the album, the hit-making team integrated familiar Chinese instruments and cultural metaphors with the soul of “Western music” and top-notch modern production techniques, mixing English and Mandarin lyrics in every song. The EP instantly grabs your attention from beginning to end. Each song has a rhythmic flow, entrancing vocals, and bass-heavy beats delving into the new “pop meets urban” sound.

莲 translated into English is lotus. As a play on words, LIT sounds almost similar to 莲(lian). Lotuses are a cultural icon recognized as something that “grows and blossoms from dirt/mud”. This paints a perfect metaphor of LAY’s album; firstly, the duality of a two-part release, and secondly it represents a new birth plus a new sound in the midst of all his past achievements. Through the tunes, LAY explores the concepts of solitude, arrogance, self-confidence, loyalty, resolution and courage. These six songs blend very ancient musical elements and concepts with the modernity of contemporary pop. From the lyrics, to the production, be prepared for an emotional and auditory journey. The focus track for the EP is the booming anthem and title song LIT and the already released hit song, Jade, showcases a combination of traditional “peking opera” and Chinese instruments. The cutting-edge production for songs like Eagle, H20, Fly, and Soul will give you an extremely refreshing journey through passionate lyrics showing a whole new blend of music.

Stream LIT the EP on Spotify!