By: Claudia Siregar |

Upon hearing about the release of the first full solo album by BTOB rapper and visual Lee Minhyuk, also known as HUTA, my initial reaction was to expect a lot from that one “can-do-everything” member in BTOB. As expected, HUTAZONE is definitely representative of Minhyuk’s multitalented, ambitious rapper/singer/dancer/songwriter/composer/producer/visual self. It features bandmate Yook Sungjae, label mate Soyeon, and indie rock band Cheeze, with all eleven tracks written and composed by Minhyuk.

The album opens with “Hutazone”, a self-introductory prelude to the album in which you’ll witness four different voices welcoming you to the Hutazone – a powerful, slightly high pitched male singing voice, a low-pitched, eerily deep, brooding male singing voice, a raspy, deep male rapping voice that BTOB fans are very, very familiar with, and a soft, high-pitched male rapping voice. Surprise, surprise, these voices come from the same person, and they will be accompanying you through the rest of the album as if Lee Minhyuk is a boyband of four instead of just one person doing it all (rapping, singing in different vocal tones, dancing, visuals, songwriting, you name it). The album continues with “Ya”, a sensual, upbeat electro-hip hop track with lots of EDM-inspired synth drops, Minhyuk’s soft vocals, and sensual rapping – a good single that represents the album’s sensual, mature concept well. The next track, “Hang out”, is a heavily disco-inspired fun track featuring G-IDLE’s rapper Soyeon that takes you to the wild 70’s, continued with the contrastingly chill jazz R&B-influenced “Lonely”, in which Minhyuk croons softly about feeling lonesome without his lover. This soft, melancholy mood is continued with the presence of his bandmate Yook Sungjae in the next track, “Day dream”, a delicate R&B ballad in which Minhyuk’s light, youthful tenor voice blends perfectly with Sungjae’s heavy, mellow baritone voice. Next, we have the short, guitar-driven, gloomy, melodic interlude “Falling blossoms” in which Minhyuk sings softly about self loathing, suicidal thoughts, and his regrets, preceding the cheerful, light, bass-heavy electropop love song “Fallin’”, which turns the mood around. Then we have “Tonight (With Melody)”, a rock-inspired fan track, in which Minhyuk raps and sings cheerfully about his love for his fans (“I’ll be there/When you’ll be there for me/I’ll be there/If you will be with me”). The album ends with “Waiting For You”, a piano-driven R&B ballad that screams longing for a certain friend.

Other than brand new tracks written and composed by Minhyuk himself, the album also features previously released tracks such as Minhyuk’s Japanese single “ALL DAY”, this time in Korean, and his Cheeze-featuring single “Purple Rain”, not to be confused with Prince’s “Purple Rain”. Just like his previously released tracks, the rest of the album is well-produced and well-composed, a fruit of Minhyuk’s hard work. Not only does Hutazone show us a mature, sexy side of Minhyuk, it also shows us Minhyuk’s raw ambition, versatility as a musician, and hustle. Hutazone is where Minhyuk is truly in the zone. His zone.

Favourite track: Day Dream (feat. Yook Sungjae)

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