You didn’t think one blog post could cover all your Japanese music needs, did you? Yeah, neither did I. So here I am, after a lot of diligent searching and listening, bringing you more info on Japanese music. Yay!
This gentleman appears to have debuted last year with great flow, positive lyrics and fun music videos (Rip Slyme and M-Flo are in the “audience” of the video for Shine Like a Star).
Steady & Co.
A collabo unit made up of KJ and BOTS of Dragon Ash (DA) — the former being head honcho and lead singer of DA, the latter the DJ of DA — Illmari from Rip Slyme and SHIGEO from SBK. They were active around 2001 and released a couple of albums. I only found out about them a few weeks ago, but they had some really cool songs, like 春夏秋冬 (which I looped for a like a week straight), Stay Gold (this song’s lazy mellowness reminds me of LFO’s Summer Girls…some people might not take that as a compliment but I do mean this as a good thing) and Time Erases Everything. As you’d expect from the illustrious Dragon Ash and Rip Slyme, the songs fuse hip-hop and guitar elements very well. SHIGEO rhymes in staccato, nasal style that’s both very distinctive and very catchy.
I’ve only ever heard one song of theirs, and I can’t find any of their albums, but the fantabulousness of one track, 時代特急/Epochal Special Express alone was enough to get them on my list.
東京事変/Tokyo Jihen/Tokyo Incident
SHIINA Apple is the lead singer of Tokyo Jihen, she also sings alone sometimes, but I’ve gone and put them together. I don’t even know how to classify her music. But they use guitars, drums and Shiina’s powerful-in-a-Björk-way-rather-than-a-Whitney-Houston-way voice, and it sounds like jazz and rock’s lovechild.
Beforehand, I criticized Lisa for leaving M-Flo. I was mean. I’m sorry, Lisa. For one thing, Lisa’s departure from M-Flo does appear to have impelled the remaining two to do great collaborative work with just about every major female R&B vocalist in Japan, and Lisa for her part has done a wonderful job out on her own. She even raps on some of her tracks: I hate slow music, and (contrary to what I had feared from looking at her album covers) lots of Lisa’s solo songs have not been stingy in the speed department. Rejoice!
A little slow for me, but…to each their own.
Okinawa in the hizzouse! Watch the music videos (PVs) to get the most out of their songs. Typically, when I first hear and Orange Range song, I don’t like it that much (there’s just something “missing”), but after watching and enjoying the playful silliness of the PV, the song tends to grow on me as well.
I think these guys are one of the original hip-hop/reggae fusion acts (these are in abundance here) from Japan, and they appear to have been around so long that they’re on break right now. Never fear, they have tons of cool ablums (Chris Rock invented this word) recorded just for you to listen to.
Put a very friendly, happy, even kawaii, face on hip-hop, but without making the music suck. Props for that alone.
勝手に観光協会/Katte Ni Kankou Kyoukai/We Done Gone And Made a Tourist Association on a Whimsy and Quite Without Anyone’s Permission
These guys went around every single prefecture in Japan and composed a funny song about it. Earthy, raw and hilarious. One of the guys in the band is a regular on a late night TV show hosted by タモリ/Tamori, where they have a segment called 空耳コーナー/Soramimi Corner, wherein are showcased sections of famous foreign songs which have lyrics that are prone to being misheard as actual Japanese sentences. ROTFL. I wonder what Snow’s Informer (does anyone remember this but me?) sounds like as “Japanese”…