Carina Ai) appearance at El
(Her first opening date on her initial tour of the United
States - to purchase tickets and/or get more information from
WA Entertainment, click HERE)
provides additional evidence that Southern California could
be the center of America's "Japanese Cool." The
influence from Japan can been from its restaurants, bars,
shops, fashions, art (i.e. Takashi Murakami @ MOCA), music
and media (i.e. Giant Robot). She is also an extension of
the continuing growth of r&b with J-Pop singers. Her music
is a continuation of past artists such as Namie Amuro, m-Flo
(Taku & Verebal), Silva, Sugar Soul, Heartsdales, Hikaru
Utada, Misia, Soul'd Out, Sheena Ringo, UA, Kumi Koda, Crystal
Kay, Jewels & Rum, Bennie K, Double, Soulhead andYoshika.
It has been noted that Japanese R&B may suffer from a
lack of feeling that the pop sheen and the absence of an upbringing
"in the 'hood" take away, but in the songs of artists
like Yoshika, it gains a light, easygoing air — a sense
that they're just having fun rather than trying to prove themselves
with the diva attitudes common in the U.S.
January 31, 2008 - AI will be making her very first
LA Live in concert - opening date of her tour at Southern
California's El Rey Theater. For more info, click HERE
growing popularity is a realization of Billboard
Asia's chief (Steve McClure) of the globalization of Japanese
R&B. "It's part of a broader trend of Japanese artists
to be more gutsy, and it's not exclusive to R&B."
AI seems to typify the fact that Japanese women have had more
freedom than ever before — perhaps more so than men
— and have taken advantage of it by traveling and living
abroad bringing something enthralling for Japanese listeners:
new sounds and ideas that they'd internalized but which remain
exotic for a Japanese audience used to formulaic pop. The
women of Japanese R&B have something to say and are happy
to say it. And in a style of music where the phrase "keep
it real" is a mantra, audiences are responding to them
as authentic. The current internationalization of R&B
is also part of a wider trend within Japanese music, and the
record industry is now getting behind it with auditions targeting
returnees and "hafu."
AI news & interviews in Japanese, click HERE
Angeles native was born on November 2,
1981 to a Japanese (father) and Italian (mother is Japanese/Italian)
family has utilized her vocal skills to become Univeral
Music Japan's "Queen of Hip Hop Soul" with a
focus on r&b, club r&b and soul. She has achieved
this status by incorporating her singing skills (learned from
her experiences while performing with a Gospel Choir), bilingual
abilities (from being born in Los Angeles), throwing spit
on wax (can rap in English) and dancing (studying at an art
school in Los Angeles. After spending her childhood (elementary
and junior high school days) at her father's hometown of Kagoshima
Japan, she moved to Los Angeles to be trained as a professional
performer. At the age of 17, AI performed as a dancer for
Janet Jackson's promo video "GO DEEP", and signed
with BMG to make her debut ("My Name is A.I.") in
Japan. Four years later, in 2003, AI
signed with Def Jam Japan ("Last Words (Saishu-Senkoku)"
single). She has stated that her vision is to pursue "originality"
at all times.
Born in LA
*1999 Made an appearance on Janet Jackson's
promotional video for "GO DEEP" as one of
*2000 Major label debut from BMG
*2003 Transferred label to DefJam Japan
Released album "ORIGINAL A.I." as the first
female artist on the label.
*2004 Album "2004 A.I." ranked
#3 on album charts and received Gold Disc.
Single "Story" ranked #8 on the first week
charts, sold 300 thousand copies, and totaled 3.5 million
*2005.7 Album "MIC-A-HOLIC A.I."
ranked #4 on charts.
Sold 500 thousand copies.
*2005.12 Made an appearance on NHK
*2006.4 Single "Believe"
ranked #2 on single charts.
200 thousand copies sold and 1.2 million downloads.
*2006.5 Promotion video of "Story"
was nominated a BEST R&B VIDEO on MTV JAPAN ? VIDEO
MUSIC AWARD JAPAN 2006
*2006.9 Single "I Wanna Know"
released Album "What's goin' on A.I." released
The album was ranked #2 on the first week of the charts.
*2007.3 Live audio recording CD "LIVE
A.I." and live video recording DVD "NIPPON
BUDOKAN A.I." released. Both consisting the final
show of "What's goin' on A.I. Japan Tour"
*2007.5 Promotion video of "Believe"
was nominated a BEST R&B VIDEO on MTV JAPAN ? VIDEO
MUSIC AWARD JAPAN 2007
*2007.7 Single "I'll Remember
You / BRAND NEW DAY" released
*2007.11 Single "ONE" released
*2007.12 Album "DON'T STOP A.I."
*2008.2 - "DON'T STOP A.I. Japan
32 shows / total 100 thousand audience expected
with a ballad single, "Story," was released in May
2005. The song ranked #8 on a single sales chart, sold a total
of 300 thousand copies, had 3.5 million downloads, and became
a song to represent 2005. An album released that same year,
"MIC-A-HOLIC A.I." was ranked #4 on the first week
and sold over 500 thousand copies.
September 2006, AI
released a single, "I Wanna Know,"
and an album, "What's goin' on A.I." The album was
ranked #2 on a CD sales charts and was ranked TOP 5 for three
consecutive weeks. "What's goin' on A.I. Japan Tour"
followed the release brought 50 thousand audiences among 12
shows in 11 major cities of Japan. All tickets of her first
auditorium tour including Nippon Budokan were sold out on
the day of the ticket release.
the New Year's Eve of 2006, AI
made an appearance on a prestigious national TV program, "56th
Annual KO HAKU UTAGASSEN" on NHK. In 2007, a single "I'll
Remember You / BRAND NEW DAY" was released in July. AI
made appearances on stages of summer music festivals such
as Rock In Japan Festival and Summer Sonic in August and September.
In April 2006, Trey collaborated with bilingual Japanese R&B/Hip-Hop
artist AI on her single Believe, with the track "Beautiful
feat. Trey Songz". The duo even performed this track
live at the MTV Awards in Japan, where AI won the award for
'Best R&B Music Video' for her ballad-single, "Story".
The song was later remixed and appeared on AI's album, What's
goin' on A.I., released September 2006. Trey can also be heard
on "Why You Wanna Remix" by T.I.
first live recording CD, "LIVE A.I."
was released on March 2007 consisting excerpts of the final
show of "What's goin' on A.I. Japan Tour" at Nippon
Budokan. The tour acclaimed "WORLD STANDARD" for
its musicians, dancers, guest artist, and staging was packaged
in its entirety on DVD release, "NIPPON BUDOKAN A.I."
The DVD release includes documentary of AI rehearsing choreography
at dance studios in LA as well as exclusive interviews of
creators took parts of making the tour happen.
2007, a single "I'll Remember You / BRAND NEW DAY"
was released in July. AI made appearances on stages of summer
music festivals such as Rock In Japan Festival and Summer
Sonic in August and September. Her latest single "ONE"
released in November has been aired on a FUJI-TV drama series,
"IRYU ? Team Medical Dragon 2," as its theme song.
latest single "ONE" released in November has been
aired on a FUJI-TV drama series, "IRYU Team Medical Dragon
2," as its theme song. AI released her latest album "DON'T
STOP A.I." in December 2007 will be promoting the music
with the "DON'T STOP A.I. Japan Tour" starting February
2008 which includes 32 shows nationwide and caters to 100
first concert tour in the United States, starting
at the Los Angeles' El Rey Theater, will provide greater evidence
of the influence and clout that J-Pop's r&b divas have
outside of Japan. Will AI have the ability and resources to
be successful worldwide, with Universal Music's support -
she should have the chances that she deserves.
JAPAN VIBE & PLACES TO GO IN LOS ANGELES
Beard Papa, 333 S. Alameda St., L.A., (213) 620-0710;
beardpapa.com. The Osaka cream-puff chain's been dubbed
the next Pinkberry, given the addictive nature of its
pastries (and expansion). This Little Tokyo outpost
opened last month.
1725 W. Carson St., B, Torrance, (310) 787-7344. Many
items, including the beloved fried chicken, are fusion-inspired,
but the dimly lighted dining room cultivates a bustling
Tokyo bar vibe. (Also, 424 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica)
New York, 1757 W. Carson St., F, Torrance, (310) 212-5235;
bradelisny.com. Don't let the name fool you: This Japanese-owned
bra line and shop has nothing to do with New York. Still,
Bradelis brings in the believers with its custom-fit
lingerie. One of only two U.S. locations.
Bar, 20801 S. Western Ave., Torrance, (310) 328-5899.
Hidden behind the Torrance Plaza Hotel, it brings in travelers
and locals hoping to catch a baseball game. Later, a younger
crowd moves in. No karaoke, just serious drinking of Kirin
and mizuwari (whiskey and water).
House M, 1263 W. Temple St., L.A., (213) 482-3828; dinnerhousem.com.
M is actually more of a bar with an authentic Tokyo
vibe; most patrons come for the stiff drinks and live
jazz. A word of caution: There's a cover charge for
sitting down (up to $10 per person)
Yakitori Restaurant, 18617 S. Western, Gardena, (310)
715-1588; more locations at shinsengumiusa.com. Pork belly,
vegetables and all sorts of chicken parts on skewers are
fired up on a charcoal grill at this tiny, lively joint.
Next door is an unmarked storefront where chanko, a dense
stew of vegetables, chicken and beef popular with sumo
wrestlers, is served only by reservation.
8525 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood, (310) 659-2684;
famima-usa.com. An offshoot of Japan's Family Mart convenience
stores, the chain launched its first U.S. store in WeHo
nearly three years ago. Today, it has 13 U.S. locations,
all in SoCal, with finds such as Ramune soft drinks and
Monaka ice cream sandwiches.
Ramen, Mitsuwa Market Place, 21515 Western Ave., Torrance,
(310) 212-1101. For those in the cult of ramen, this is
the holy grail, at least stateside. The Hokkaido-based
chain sets up shop counter- style within Mitsuwa food
courts. (Also 665 Paularino Ave., Costa Mesa, and 3760
S. Centinela Ave., L.A.)
Moc, 2383 Lomita Blvd., No. 102, Lomita, (310) 534-0153;
gajamoc.com. Okonomiyaki, the specialty here, is a make-it-yourself
concoction with customized items like spam, cod roe, mochi,
cheese, octopus, noodles and egg that starts off as a
gooey mess on the grill and is eventually cooked to resemble
a pancake topped with mayo and bonito flakes.
Yakitori, 22807 Hawthorne Blvd., Torrance, (310) 378-1019;
shinyakitoridining.com. This relative newcomer has reasonably
priced yakitori. For the more adventurous, there's motsu
nabe (intestine) hot pot with vegetables.
Robot, 2015 Sawtelle Blvd., West L.A., (310) 478-1819;
giantrobot.com. Surrounded by streetwear shops like
Blu 82, Eric Nakamura's store started a mini-revolution
in 2002 and is going strong with T-shirts, prints and
Noodle House, 16525 S. Western Ave., Gardena, (310) 532-9348.
Subtler than ramen, the buckwheat noodles here are handmade
and served hot in a bowl of bonito-based broth or cold
with a dipping sauce.
L.A., 648 N. Fuller Ave., L.A., (323) 934-5201; japanla.com.
Jamie Rivadeneira's shop is crammed with offbeat finds
such as Tare Panda ("lazy panda") products,
Gloomy Bear phone charms and Domokun bath sponges.
24416 Crenshaw Blvd., Torrance, (310) 325-8686. It carries
fashion lines such as Toki Doki, toys, books and graphic
1644 W. Carson St., B, Torrance, (310) 787-0787. The
chef behind the bar counter at this tempura restaurant
gingerly cuts, batters and fries vegetables and seafood
before carefully plating them on a paper-lined dish.
308 N. Stanley Ave., L.A., (323) 964-5240Ö. A boutique
specializing in vintage and new designs from Japan.
343 E. 2nd St., L.A., (213) 625-1372; popkiller.us.
Ricky Takizawa's second store is already a near institution
with its selection of hip T-shirts and accessories.
7602 Beverly Blvd., L.A., (323) 692-0061. Rie Fujii's
smart boutique has fresh finds, mostly vintage dresses
and accessories, and attracts such shoppers as Nicole
Richie and Winona Ryder.