Jpop not all about the pop
Japanese pop music is no longer the saccharine landscape colored with prefab girl groups and androgynous rock singers (also, message to rock critics, noise bands aren’t the only ones making noise). R&B and Rap are increasingly popular sales wise and influence wise. Here are a few You Tube samples of what’s out there over there, starting with:
Koda Kumi – turned from pop singer wanna-be to a very wealthy R&B styled performer with a risqué streak. Not surprisingly the American otaku community finds her overt sexuality too Western. Guys, girls, time to step away from the anime DVDs and see what is happening to real people. This cut features the duo Soulhead.
Namie Amuro – very popular Okinawan chanteuse who perhaps pioneered the move away from more pop oriented dance songs to R&B. She always seems a bit tired to me, though, like she’s been up all night. Guess it’s hard being a single mom.
M-Flo was one of the first urban music bands out of Japan I heard. Though there music tends toward pop/dance (owes to their chart success) they epitomize hip-hop in that their crew is made up of Japanese ethnic minorities, a Korean MC (Verbal, one of my favorites) and a Japanese-Columbian singer (Lisa Ono, who has since left the band to solo success). This PV features Crystal Kay, a Korean/Japanese-African American singer.
King Ghidora – one of the old school of Japanese rap music. This clip features fellow old schooler Zeebra (often called a DMX siphon)
Q – never heard of this cat before, but pretty tight on the mic he is.
K Dub Shine – Trying his hand at “underground” rap. A lot of Japanese DJ’s have been doing the kind of beats that underground stalwarts like RJD2 and others have made popular over here.
Double – for awhile, was one of the very few Japanese artists doing what we’d consider soul music over here, not really a whiff of the pop influences that color a lot of what is considered R&B in Japan. She used to perform with her sister, who died, hence the name “Double.” Also one of the best singers in Japanese music. Interesting to see her dancing around like this, she’s had a more reserved image in the past. The times, as I’m saying, are a changing.
Finally, Toshinobu Kubota, the dean of soul singers in Japan. He’s made a couple of stabs at making noise in the states, putting out two English language records. I think only BET paid attention to him. Too bad, he’s pretty talented.