Selected by Dan
Japan Soul Festival
112 - PBI Entertainment
One of the peak events on the black music
calendar in Japan is the Japan Soul Festival. This year the event will see veteran hip hop
posse Naughty by Nature top a bill also featuring contemporary US soul
stars 112 and Case. The nationwide tour will bring them
to the Kanto area for one date only at the gleaming new Pacifico auditorium on the
While some might place them in the "Where are they now?" category, in Japan'
hip hop and reggae clubs, it seems as if it's still the early '90s, and Naughty by
Nature's massive hits "O.P.P." and "Hip Hop Hooray" are still
dominating the charts. With the subsequent rise of West Coast gangsta rap and the rebirth
of East Coast rap leaving Naughty by Nature in the dust, the trio has been unable to match
their earlier success. Nonetheless, last year's Nature's Fury proved the group still has a
loyal following, and they still remain one of the best hip hop units around in terms of
sheer party power.
Naughty by Nature
Of perhaps greater interest are more
recent comers, vocal group 112 and swingbeat star Case.
With roots in gospel, soul and hip hop, 112 were the first successful urban vocal group to
materialize from East Coast hip hop star Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs' Bad Boy
Records. The quartet formed after meeting each other at high school in Atlanta and began
to play at schools and churches, eventually gaining the attention of Combs. With Combs
producing, the wholesome group achieved a Top 10 R&B hit with their first single
"Only You." Their first record, 112, went gold in 1996 and Room 112
followed in 1998.
New York native Case, meanwhile, made
various cameo appearances with Jodeci before launching his solo career in 1996 with a
self-titled debut album. Mixing romantic R&B with hip hop rhythms, the album included
the single "Touch Me, Tease Me" written with soul diva Mary J. Blige, with whom
he is said to be romantically involved. The song appeared in Eddie Murphy's hit film The
Matching the most successful hip hop group of the early '90s with late '90s talents, the
Japan Soul Festival will provide a good overview of the last decade in American black
The Japan Soul
Festival takes place at Pacifico Yokohama on 11/2. See listings for details.