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Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Japanese Soul

Posted by on April 12 at 10:59 AM

If you go to this site you will find a rare pop jewel by a Japanese singer named Tohsi Kubota. The track is called “Nothing But Your Love,” and it’s produced/remixed by the great and late Jay Dee. Kubota sings in perfect black English. In fact, when I first heard the song on a mix by the LA-based beat-builder Take, I thought the singer was a black female obediently following Grace Jones’ androgynous path. But the chorus caught me by surprise: “I’m not nothing.” Though sung with a black English twang (“nothaang”), the construction is not common to black or white English. We almost never say “I’m not nothing.” To utter such a thing is to create an impossible black hole in the sign system of our language. After Take informed me of the singer’s nationality during a chance meeting in Park City, I became obsessed with “Nothing But Your Love.” It offers so much to consider: trends in Japanese pop music; the strange inventions that occur when one language meets and interacts with another language; the globalization of black English (or black singing); and so on and so forth. Listen to the song and be amazed (as I’m) by our age of transnational pop and capital.

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I cannot wait to listen to this!

You might, Charles, enjoy some of Yoko Kanno's work. She's best known (here at least) for her work scoring Animae but the lady, truly, is a talent.

Best bet on this side of the Pacific is to obtain one of the soundtracks for 'Cowboy Bebop'. Sure it's a cartoon but the music is .. well it's real music that happens to be plopped into a cartoon.


try listening to Crystal Kay -- half black, half korean but sings with such soul in perfect Japanese. Her new single is produced by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, same guys that worked with Janet Jackson. I think anyone who may possibly make the crossover, it will probably be Crystal Kay.

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