Mannequin rap duo FEMM caught the attention of influencers in the United States, Europe and around the world with their breakout anthem 'Fxxk Boyz Get Money'. Their debut album Femm-Isation hit the Top 10 in Billboard’s World Albums chart in the US, while in Britain the Huffington Post highlighted FEMM in its '6 Acts to Watch in 2016' list and HMV included the duo in its Best Indie Albums section across the UK.
Yet, having carved out a reputation in the rap scene as formidable female rhymesters, FEMM disappeared in mysterious circumstances – or so the world thought.
Last month, the entire contents of FEMM's Instagram and FEMM's YouTube accounts were deleted, replaced with only a video titled 'Goodbye to .......' Visiting FEMM's official website returned only a "404 Not Found" error, leading fans around the world to fear the worst. Were FEMM no more?
But a new teaser video was released today that breaks the silence of the past few weeks. The video was uncovered yesterday by passionate FEMM fans (known as "agents"), who pieced together nine segments of a QR code that were posted to FEMM's official Instagram account, one per hour over a total of eight hours. Following the QR code led agents to "leak" the video ahead of its release today.
The video shows imagery that would shock any true FEMM fan to the core: The two mannequin members moving as smoothly as real human beings. In fact, the seven periods in the title 'Goodbye to .......' were a clue, standing for the seven-character code "FEMM1.0" – FEMM were saying goodbye to their first incarnation, and the pair's new smooth moves are a result of an update to version 2.0. Who knows what other new abilities they have gained with their firmware upgrade?
Further, it was announced that the music in the teaser video is an excerpt from a single that will be released on 6 November, with the somewhat fitting title 'Level Up feat. Duke of Harajuku'.
This will be a double A-side in collaboration with tokyovitamin, a Tokyo-based independent label that draws on the international backgrounds of its various members for a borderless approach, and which has long fostered a close relationship with FEMM. Trap musician Duke of Harajuku features as part of the collaboration.
The double A-side's other song, 'Summer Dream feat. FEMM (S+ Ver.)', previously featured in its original form on Duke of Harajuku's album RAZZLE DAZZLE released 9 September and featuring Kanye West video conspirator and multitalented artist Gab3, along with Japanese guest artists PETZ from YENTOWN and Young Coco, as well as FEMM. A new recording of the song with an additional section will feature on the double A-side single.
The songs feature production by Star Boy, who has earned wide acclaim for production with electronic artist Lil Uzi Vert, and whose work with rapper DaBaby has led to two consecutive No.1 albums in the United States; and Radical Hardcore Clique, whose members have remixed Diplo and whose mix of traditional Japanese Imperial court music with trap is widely celebrated as the distinctive "Japalanta" or "Trapanese" sound.
Both tracks conjure a futuristic image, while blending melancholic emotion and retro vibes with FEMM's trademark smooth yet inorganic nature and mellow flow, resulting in a "city hip-hop" sound that is totally unique.