When it comes to soul music
no one loves the genre more endearly or is it's biggest supporter
than the those that live overseas in particular those who live
in Japan. So it's no surprise that one of their biggest and brightest
talents has been making a name for himself on American soil.
Kubota was born and raised in Japan and discovered
his love for music quite by accident. His father owned a store
and as a young teenager, he came across an offer on a soda bottle
that in exchange for dozens of bottle tops, he would receive a
free album. Said Toshi "I don't
know if my father ever found out, but there were a lot of opened
soda cans with no tops in that store!"
That album was from The
Stylistics and seeing that he didn't know how to read
or speak English then as he recalls "There
were five black men with Afros standing there. And all I could
read was 'Stylistics' and it took me three years after that to
finally get a record player so I could hear it!"
By that time he was introduced
to another album that would change his life. The album in question
was Stevie Wonders - 'Songs
In The Key of Life' and it was the first album he ever
brought, says Toshi. "It changed
everything for me. His voice, his songs, everything was different
from anything I had ever heard before."
It was with that passion
and dedication that he threw himself into his new found love.
By junior high, he had his own band but was frustrated by the
peralis of playing the music he loves. "I
wanted to sing a specific kind of music. But my band couldn't
play it. It's different, especially for Japanese people. They
loved it - but they couldn't play it" he said.
He would later spend time performing around town in various clubs
horning his craft and it was at one of these gigs that Toshi get
his first big break. A
major record label representative was in the house. He introduced
Toshi to a jazz musician who was looking for a vocalist for his
upcoming jazz album. "I went to
the studio and performed one song and that was my first experience
in the studio. I was so nervous! But the music was well received
and that song became one of my demo tracks." And
the rest is history.
His latest project is called
'Time to Share' his 3rd English
album to date that's due out at the end of the month. The lead
off single will be the smooth groover 'Living
for Today' featuring none other than Brooklyn's own
Mos Def. The song has all
the essentials from the get go - a soft toned introduction of
strings as Toshi sings the first few lines accapella. Then a solid
baseline drops in and Mos Def
adds his flavourful two cents to the mix. Throughout the song
you get a distinctive jazz feel to it and you can only enjoy the
song more and more as you listen to it.
I've always been a fan of
Toshi's work ever since his first English album from 1995. If
this song is any indication to what's in store for us on the album
then it could very well be his best work to date.
Be sure to pick up his new set when it comes out as I'm sure it
will be an ear pleaser. A worthy TY-D
pick indeed - period
Listen to Toshi
Kubota ft Mos Def