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May 23, 2008

Shortcuts: Giant Panda—Electric Laser

[img id="80648" align="alignleft"] Panda + lasers = happiness. I don't think anything could be clearer. But just to reinforce this time-tried maxim, Giant Panda decided to release Electric Laser. As declared on their critically acclaimed Fly School Reunion, Giant Panda is the "black-white-Japanese, rapanese" trio, blending styles and cultures with refreshing fluidity. Composed of Newman, Maanumental, and Chikaramanga, Giant Panda is known for its old-school beats, fast-paced verses, and

Chikaramanga's entirely Japanese sections—perfect for those multilingual hip hop lovers! And now, with their sophomore album, the group has expanded upon this proven combination, going electronic both in style and content. Songs like "Cinemax" and "Laser Ray" tell much-neglected tales of heroism in the modern age—tales of television watching and laser battles in Hokkaido—a theme maintained throughout most of the album.

After all, "technology makes no sense unless we put it to work," as Newman says on "Do the Robot in Cyberspace," one of the album's most enjoyable tracks. The presence of strong lyrical content was something lacking on Fly School Reunion that the group has now added to their phenomenal beat production, making Electric Laser consistent from start to finish. In very few places does the album drop off. Although it's a progression from Fly School Reunion, Electric Laser maintains the group's original feel with tracks like "Justin Case" and "Speakers Pop," featuring vintage beats and house styled lyrics. Tracks like "AIM" and "Let It Go" also provide a slower pace, reminiscent of "90's", which is very refreshing in the midst of Panda's usual lyrical speed.

Overall, the album is certainly worth the 10 dollars on iTunes. With clear, vibrant verses and a redefined sound, Electric Laser certainly doesn't disappoint. Taking a step toward the technological, Giant Panda seems to have found something to say with this release, something they seemed to be lacking on Fly School Reunion. Combining their high quality beat production with light, yet poignant, lyrics, the album really maintains a consistency not seen from the group before. An album for hip-hop fans looking outside the mainstream, Giant Panda is certainly doing their own thing, something necessary in the cookie-cutter world of modern hip-hop.

Giant Panda will be coming to Chicago's Morseland on June 14, which is sure to be an interesting live show.