Balming Tiger – “Armadillo (ft. Omega Sapien, Byung Un)”
Six-piece collective Balming Tiger is about to set fire to the hip-hop scene.
Taking their name from the iconic Asian ointment “Tiger Balm”, the self-proclaimed “K-Pop band” has somehow remained one of SoundCloud’s best kept secrets, with hundreds of thousands of streams on their debut mixtape Balming Tiger vol. 1: 虎媄304. What’s even more amazing are their wacky off-the-wall videos that make quite the first impression. “I’m Sick”, which has racked up 2 million-views, features Balming Tiger’s rapper Byung Un freaking out in a delightfully chaotic and messy video–going head-to-head with the group’s hardcore beats quite beautifully. On their latest venture “Armadillo”, they’re on the brink of another major breakthrough.
This time around, Un is joined by fellow rapper Omega Sapien, a recent addition to the collective. But on the hard-hitting “Armadillo”, the two trade verses over a grimy beat like they’ve been doing it for ages. Somehow, Balming Tiger have made a song that’s effortlessly hip. Goofy one-liners (“spicy bimbimbap-itty boo,” “already a sex tape, I’m a sinner”), random references (Nutella, green gorillas, Kylie Jenner, Google/YouTube), and out-of-place lyrics (“fish ladies need omega-3”) just add to the magic of the track. It’s quite the return for the group.
Also aiding with the track is a fantastic yakuza-themed music video by Japanese director Pennacky (who also directed one of our favorite videos of the year so far, Sobs’s Astronomy), which features Un and a green-haired Omega Sapien wandering around Japanese rooftops, ramen bars, and abandoned streets. Pennacky’s video captures a contemporary Japan on film, which can only be described in one word: cool. We’re fans.
Personality is a big part of hip-hop, and “Armadillo” is proof that Balming Tiger is just doing their own wild thing… whether we’re all watching or not.
Li-Wei Chu is the chief editor of From the Intercom. When he’s not editing drafts and searching for new artists to cover for the website, he loves watching cult films, cooking, and listening to his ever-growing collection of vinyl records. You can follow him on LetterBoxd and make fun of his taste in movies here!