One of the biggest names in Japanese urban music, m-flo brings together foreign influences and Japanese sensibilities. m-flo began as a collaboration between composer/track maker/producer ☆Taku Takahashi, rapper Verbal, and Japanese-Colombian singer Lisa in 1997, releasing their first song “been so long” in 1999 as a 12-inch single for an indie label. They were soon picked up by Avex affiliate label Rhythm Zone, released a string of hit singles, and rode that momentum to the release of their debut album Planet Shining, which climbed to #6 on Oricon (Japanese charts).
After the release of remix album The Replacement Percussionists, a sold-out tour, and a successful second album Expo Expo, Lisa left the band to begin a solo career. With m-flo reduced to childhood friends Taku and Verbal, the duo adjusted to musical shifts to incorporate electro, jazz and house on their first album in three years, 2004’s “Astromantic,” which reached number 2 in Japan.
The lead single from “Astromantic,” titled “Reeewind!” featured the vocals of R&B star Crystal Kay and started the highly successful “m-flo loves …” series which has so far brought about collaborations with everybody from former Shibuya-kei icons like Kahimi Karie to veteran singer and TV personality Akiko Wada. M-flo’s fourth album, “Beat Space Nine,” continued the collaborative series and went one better than its predecessor on release in 2005, giving m-flo their first number one album.
In the same year, Verbal also lent his rhymes to the Japanese hip-hop supergroup Teriyaki Boyz, whose well-received album “Beef or Chicken” (released on the Def Jam label) went top five, aided by its all-star cast of international producers (Ad-Rock of the Beastie Boys, DJ Shadow, Cut Chemist and Daft Punk among others). In recent years, m-flo has released eighth studio album The Future is Wow in 2014, continued to collaborate with “m-flo loves” artists, and contributed singles to various video games.
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