K-Ci & JoJo and The Roots
One of the oddly wonderful things about living in Japan is
the unusual bills that promoters here come up with. The tour
and countdown party being staged by Positive ProductionsJapan's
largest black-owned production companyare a classic
example: rarely in the West would you come across a bill pairing
acts from such different ends of the musical spectrum.
K-Ci & JoJo, for instance, are one of the two brother
teams that make up smooth R&B act Jodeci. Cedric K-Ci
and Joel JoJo Hailey formed their project as an
outlet for the steamier side of their songwriting, debuting
in 1996 on 2Pac's single How Do U Want It,
which went to number one and sold over two million copies.
|K-Ci & JoJo
A series of Hailey brothers singles followed, including the
'97 Top 40 hit You Bring Me Up, before the
release the same year of their debut album, Love Always on
MCA. It's Real (1999) and X (2001) preceded this year's
Emotional, now being given a big push in record shops around
Will the Hailey's live down to their reputation and go
the Full Monty in Tokyo? They've been arrested for indecent
exposure the US for baring themselves in concerts before,
and with Japan's lax law enforcement, anything is possible.
The Roots, meanwhile, come from the more politicized, underground
end of hip-hop, and present a sharp contrast to the commercial
rap of Ja Rule and Jay-Z et al. Created in 1987 when rapper
Black Thought (Tariq Trotter) met drummer Questlove (Ahmir
Khalib Thompson) at the Philadelphia High School for Creative
Performing Arts, the pair lacked the money for essential DJ
equipmentand so began to create hip-hop simply by matching
Black Thought's rhymes to Questlove's backbeat.
In their 2002 incarnation, The Roots make up a full band with
six members, and are unique as one of a very few hip-hop units
performing as a sample-free instrumental unit. This gives
them an organic feel that was, appropriately, used as the
title for their debut album, 1993's live outing, Organix,
on Remedy Records.
Subsequent appearances at the Montreux Jazz Festival and Lollapalooza
brought The Roots to a wider audience. This paved the way
for the commercial success of their third album, 1999's
Things Fall Apart, on the strengths of the hit single You
Got Me, featuring nu soul diva Erykah Badu.
Meanwhile their just-released fourth studio album, Phrenology,
once again calls attention to black people's historic
struggles. Like Things Fall Apart, named for the classic post-colonial
African novel Chinua Achebe, Phrenology referred to the 19th-century
pseudo-science which attempted to establish white people's
superiority on the basis of skull measurements. The album
features contributions by singers Nelly Furtado, Talib Kweli
and Cody Chestnutt.
For those with an interest in the surging Japanese hip-hop
scene, New Year's Countown Party 2002 will also present
some of the better young artists, including the much-hyped
Def Jam Japan recording artist Sphere of Influence.
K-Ci & Jojo and The Roots play
Yokohama Bay Hall on December 28, 30 & 31 (countdown party),
and Ebisu Garden Hall on December 29. See listings for details.
credit: Courtesy of Positive