Lay Zhang lights it up with his blazing new album LIT!
Lay Zhang released the second half and the final component of his solo album LIT. The singer unveiled a 12 piece full album that also features six tracks from LIT Part.1.
About The Artist
Lay Zhang debuted in the music industry as a K-Pop idol with ace group, EXO. He is a multi-talented Chinese artist, producer, singer-songwriter, actor, dancer, fashion muse, and philanthropist. He is China’s current top #1 idol becoming the highest-ranked Mandopop star on Billboard 200 chart and the first Chinese artist to enter the iTunes Top 60 in the US with his third album NAMANANA.
The conceptualization of the album is brilliant. Named 蓮 in Chinese, the character translating to the word LIT in English signifies the duality of life and death according to Chinese religious beliefs. It also represents the lotus flower to symbolize something that “grows and blossoms out of the dirt/mud”.
The character and its meanings are metaphorical of Lay’s album, with the duality of a two-part release, and secondly it highlights the contrasting elements between Parts 1 and 2 in terms of sound.
“LIT,” features digital beats that go heavy on percussive elements which are merged with the traditional Chinese instrument pipa. The power packed track is the personification of the term ‘like a boss’.
Lay asserts confidence as he talks about his ambitions of walking on his own path irrespective whether others understand his goals or not. He expresses determination to stand tall against any and every hurdle that may come his way. Besides that, the singer also pays homage to his cultural heritage which makes “LIT” the perfect opening track.
“Jade,” is a stunning song that is features Lay’s high tones and breathy notes that take center stage against its harmonious melody composed of a combination of traditional ‘peking opera’ and Chinese instruments with contemporary pop and hip-hop. The song is sees the artist emoting feelings of passion as he serenades a beautiful lady in his hushed, honeyed voice.
Next, “Eagle,” ranks up high in the list of fierce tracks due to its impactful verses that show the singer comparing himself to a strong predator like the ferocious eagle. The track merges traditional Chinese string and woodwind instruments with heavy trap beats. Lay’s whisper like rap verses stand out on this track.
Lay’s vocals flow effortlessly on “H2O” as seen with his soft notes and deep falsettos. The synth and piano based melody and the addition of the light strings are merely just that – additions, to Lay’s vocals that shine as he croons, “Like H2O, I go to you/ Now only for you, I’m calm or restless/ Turning into white snow or changing from one state to another/ It’s all in my memories. And my love for you is there too.”
“Fly” is a dynamic track with lyrics that embody power and courage. The slow paced trap and traditional beats give it an undeniable edge, thereby creating a unique ambiance for the listeners. The message of the track is empowering as Lay talks about soaring high into the sky and flying without limits towards his goals.
“Soul,” is serene, soul-stirring yet soulful in its nature. Lay’s vocals are at the peak as the artist showcases the versatility in his musical approach with his breathy tenors and soft notes that play perfectly to the heavy, ambient synths and trap beats laced rhythm.
A Chinese bamboo flute rings in the second half of the album introducing the track, “Changsha”. This track is a celebration of Lay Zhang’s roots. It is somewhat of an ode to his hometown, Changsha in Hunan province. Lay is all praises for the place he belongs to in his playful rap style. Definitely one of the coolest tracks on the album.
If the soft synth and heavy bass style isn’t enough to get listeners hooked onto this track, Lay’s innovative singing style surely will be! “Mama,” is without a doubt the star of the show on LIT.
Lay expresses his love for his mother as well as his wish to break barriers and fly beyond limits as he says, “Don’t hold me down, let me fly/ Even if I don’t reach the sky/ You always say “Baby take your time”/ And if I fall, at least I tried.” These lines are beautiful and honestly, almost reflective of life itself – of never giving up and at least trying. This is a song made to jam up that repeat button.
The ultimate summertime banger – the only way one can possibly define “Boom”. The dance pop track screams beach vibes that brighten with Lay’s breezy notes.
The melody is a composition of Latin influenced tropic beats that are merged with hip-hop elements complementing Lay’s saccharine voice flawlessly. In addition to that, the song’s fresh lyrics and its catchy hook take “Boom,” to the next level. This track is sure to make listeners say ,”I like it”
Call My Name
Sexy, Smooth, Suave – “Call My Name,” is all that and more. Lay’s dulcet voice is a an element that listeners won’t be able to get enough of. The dreamy composition of smooth guitar riffs and soft bass beats will only make you want to put this track on loop. Unquestionably, the song is one of the best by the EXO member.
“Late Night,” is one that screams chill vibes, what with its ambient tones composed of altering tempos that go up a note during the chorus and then come back to the slow tranquil beat during the verses.
The lyrics express the singer’s feelings as he talks about feeling exhausted but despite being worn out, his ambitions still burn within as he asserts, “Whenever I try to find a path, I have exhausted my strength and scarred/ But now I feel tired and I still insist on dreaming/ It’s wrong, yes.”
“Wish,” is a magical little number that charms with its slow tempo that beams with with Lay’s breathtaking voice. The breezy guitar riffs add this light texture to the melody that is both, echoing and euphonious. The track truly is the perfect end to the perfect album
Music Video Musings
If the music video for “LIT,” had to be described in a single word, it would unarguably be – WOW.
Lay exudes and basically embodies confidence. He compares himself to being a king before he declares himself to be the lotus flower, one that blooms despite being surrounded by filth. He expresses that he is a warrior who fights his battles head on and keeps rising despite being faced with difficulties.
In the video, Zhang blends the ancient and contemporary worlds with absolute finesse. He merges modern fashion and choreography with traditional Chinese symbolism and imagery. Set in ancient China, the video showcases Lay taking on the role of an emperor caught in the midst of an uprising as his soldiers seemingly rebel against him.
Further into the music video the vocalist prepares for and engages in battle alone. And like a fierce fighter, he wins against the thousands of men who wish to bring him down as he channels his inner dragon and so, towards the end a victorious Zhang stands tall on the stairs of his palace.
Lay Zhang truly brings his ideas of solitude, arrogance, self-confidence, loyalty, resolution and courage to life in a grandiose manner amidst majestic cinematography, palatial settings, striking visuals and daring dance moves. In retrospect, The video truly showcased the essence of the whole album in an authentic way.
LIT is truly a testament to the artistic talents of Lay Zhang as he showcases his musical prowess delving into soft tones, R&B, hip-hop and pop while experimenting with his vocal styles.
Moreover, the vision of merging ancient, traditional Chinese sounds with contemporary music is pure genius. There is not one song on the album that disappoints. All in all, LIT is DEFINITELY an album that listeners should NOT miss out on!
Source/Images: Zhang Yixing Studio