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M-flo

m-flo is a Japanese hip hop group consisting of producer and DJ Taku Takahashi and emcee VERBAL. Former member Lisa left the group in 2002 to pursue a solo career.

As of 2008, the group have released five studio albums, all of which have been top-ten hits in Japan.

History

Before m-flo

VERBAL (born Ryu Yong Gi (Korean: 류영기/유영기, Hanja: 柳榮起)) and first met as students at St. Mary's International School in Tokyo. The pair collaborated together in the group N.M.D., in which Takahashi was drummer and VERBAL emceed, as well as throwing dance parties where they often performed together freestyle. Following highschool, VERBAL took up study at the Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Boston while Taku relocated to study in Los Angeles. Following their return to Japan, the duo began performing in clubs and on television hoping to attract the attention of record companies. In 1998, Taku met Asakawa Masaji, the director of management company Artimage and DJ of the group GTS. Masaji invited Taku to produce a reworking of Barbra Streisand's The Way We Were with a rap by VERBAL, originally intended as a GTS release. The song was released on vinyl in 1998 on Avex Trax's Rhythm Republic indie imprint and later on the compilation album The Intergalactic Collection ~ギャラコレ~, and sold about 1000 units.

Forming m-flo

Following the release of "The Way We Were", VERBAL and Taku invited LISA ]], a friend while at St. Mary's who at the time was performing under the pseudonym "UNIKA" solo and in several underground projects trying to gain credit as a musician, to collaborate with them on a second single, been so long, released under the m-flo name. The name, originally "mediarite flow", was considered too long, and was shortened by the group's label to "m-flo". VERBAL has commented that "There's no deep meaning to it. I guess we want to have an impact (in music) like a meteorite.". The song was released on a limited-run vinyl with Rhythm Republic in 1998, attracting the attention of the major Avex Trax sublabel Rhythm Zone.

1999-2000: Planet Shining

The group's first release with Rhythm Zone, The Tripod E.P., was a double a-side single which included a re-release of "been so long" alongside new track "flo jack" and was released on July 7 1999. The EP gained the group a #7 position on the Oricon charts, and "been so long" was licensed by Konami for inclusion in beatmania IIDX 3rd Style alongside the group's third single, "L.O.T.(Love or Truth)". A further four singles were released prior to the release of the group's first full-length album, Planet Shining, on February 23 2000. The album reached #6 in the Oricon charts.

2000-2002: EXPO EXPO, LISA's departure

Following the release of the Planet Shining remix album The Replacement Percussionists in August 2000, the group released the first single from their second album, "How You Like Me Now?", on September 1 2000. In January of the following year they released "come again", which achieved a #4 position in the Oricon charts and was their highest-selling single to date, selling 389,760 units and landing in the top 50 highest-selling singles in Japan for 2001. The group's second album, EXPO EXPO, was released on March 28 2001, and reached #3 on the Oricon charts.

The group followed EXPO EXPO with a tour of Japan, released on CD and DVD in September 2001, and an album of remixes from EXPO EXPO, EXPO Bouei Robot GRAN SONIK, in November.

Following the release of GRAN SONIK, LISA announced her departure from the group to pursue a solo career in early 2002.

2003-2008: m-flo loves...

After a period of inactivity, during which VERBAL and Taku engaged themselves in a series of side-projects and released a collection of collaborations entitled Sotoshigoto ~m-flo turns it out!~, m-flo released on March 5 2003 a fan-selected best of album, The Intergalactic Collection ~ギャラコレ~. The last track on the album hinted at the arrival of a new vocalist to replace LISA, although the vocalist's identity was not revealed.

On June 6 2003, the group released a pair of collaborations with Zainichi R&B singer Crystal Kay, REEEWIND! and I LIKE IT. The singles were released under the names "m-flo loves Crystal Kay" and "Crystal Kay loves m-flo" respectively and both charted in the top 10, providing Crystal Kay with her highest-selling single to date. "REEWIND!" began a string of collaborations that spanned four years and three albums.

2004's ASTROMANTIC featured collaborations with top names in Japanese pop, jazz, R&B and electronica including CHEMISTRY, DOUBLE and Ryuichi Sakamoto and achieved a #2 position in the Oricon charts and a #17 position in the World Charts. The album was supported by a live DVD and remix album Astromantic Charm School, and also provided the group with their highest selling single since come again, collaboration with Korean singer BoA the Love Bug, which reached #8 on the Oricon charts.

The group released their follow-up album BEAT SPACE NINE in 2005. The record featured a heavier electronic sound than the jazz-oriented ASTROMANTIC and included collaborations with Kahimi Karie and Akiko Wada. The album's final track, "TRIPOD BABY", included a cameo by former m-flo vocalist LISA. BEAT SPACE NINE provided the group with their highest-selling album to date and their first Oricon #1. The album was supported by a live DVD and the remix album Dope Space Nine.

The third album in the m-flo loves... series, COSMICOLOR, was released on March 28 2007. The final album in the series, it included collaborations with Koda Kumi, Snacky Chan, Amuro Namie and Bonnie Pink, as well as a second collaboration with Crystal Kay, intended as a symbolic close to the m-flo loves... project. The album achieved a #2 Oricon position and was supported by a live DVD. A two-disc remix album, spanning remixes both from COSMICOLOR and songs from m-flo's previous four albums, electriCOLOR -COMPLETE REMIX-, was released on September 26 2007.

On February 13 2008 the group released a collection of greatest hits from the m-flo loves... series, Award SuperNova -Loves Best-. The album debuted at #1 on the Oricon charts. It also featured a final new collaboration for the series, love comes and goes, with Emi Hinouchi, Ryohei Yamamoto, EMYLI, YOSHIKA, and LISA.

Future

Both Taku and VERBAL have denied that m-flo will disband following the discontinuation of the m-flo loves... series. VERBAL has stated that the band intend to focus on individual side-projects, with a rumoured third MIC BANDITZ album in production. Additionally, there is speculation among fans that LISA may re-join the band as a full-time member following her extensive participation in the m-flo TOUR 2007 COSMICOLOR tour & DVD.

Outside m-flo

Both VERBAL and Taku have headed up several side projects outside m-flo. VERBAL heads Rhythm Zone imprint espionage records, where he produces all-girl Hip hop outfit Heartsdales and collaborates with group MIC BANDITZ. He is also a member of Japanese Hip hop supergroup Teriyaki Boyz on A Bathing Ape founder Nigo's (B)APE Sounds imprint, and in 2002 contributed as emcee and producer to two tracks on SUITE CHIC's WHEN POP HITS THE FAN album.

Taku also heads his own Rhythm Zone imprint, Tachytelic Records, where he produces singer-songwriter Emi Hinouchi. He also released an album of remixes by other artists, Tachytelic Night~welcomes you to the FAR EAST~, in 2003.

Additionally, VERBAL and Taku have both acted as sometime producers and collaborators for artists who came to prominence largely because of their participation in the m-flo loves... series, including Emi Hinouchi, YOSHIKA, EMYLI, Ryohei Yamamoto and LISA. Since ASTROMANTIC, these artists have been collectively referred to as the Global Astro Alliance. In addition to the earlier Sotoshigoto ~m-flo turns it out!~, VERBAL and Taku have released two compilations of collaborations between m-flo, the Global Astro Alliance, and other artists. The first, m-flo inside, was released in 2004 shortly before the first album in the m-flo loves... series. The second, m-flo inside -WORKS BEST II-, was released on July 26 2006.

Discography

Albums

Studio Albums

  1. February 23, 2000 - Planet Shining
  2. March 28, 2001 - EXPO EXPO
  3. May 26, 2004 - ASTROMANTIC
  4. August 24, 2005 - Beat Space Nine
  5. March 28, 2007 - Cosmicolor

Remix Albums

  1. August 9, 2000 - The Replacement Percussionists
  2. November 28, 2001 - EXPO Bouei Robot GRAN SONIK
  3. September 15, 2004 - ASTROMANTIC CHARM SCHOOL
  4. November 5, 2005 - Dope Space Nine
  5. September 26, 2007 - electriCOLOR -COMPLETE REMIX-

Best Albums

  1. March 5, 2003 - The Intergalactic Collection ~ギャラコレ~
  2. February 13, 2008 - Award SuperNova -Loves Best-

Compilations

  1. February 27, 2002 - Sotoshigoto ~m-flo turns it out!~
  2. March 17, 2003 - m-flo inside
  3. July 26, 2006 - m-flo inside -WORKS BEST II-

Singles

Year Single JP Album
1999 "the tripod e.p." 9 Planet Shining
1999 "Mirrorball Satellite 2012" 11 Planet Shining
1999 "L.O.T.(Love or Truth)" 20 Planet Shining
1999 "chronopsychology" 24 Planet Shining
2000 "Hands" 33 Planet Shining
2000 "Come Back To Me" 30 Planet Shining
2000 "The Quantum EP" 31 EXPO EXPO
2000 "How You Like Me Now?" 9 EXPO EXPO
2001 "come again" 4 EXPO EXPO
2001 "orbit-3" 9 EXPO EXPO
2001 "prism" 15 EXPO EXPO
2001 "Dispatch" 34 EXPO EXPO
2001 "Yours only," 25 EXPO EXPO
2003 "REEEWIND!" (m-flo loves Crystal Kay) 9 ASTROMANTIC
2003 "miss you" (m-flo loves melody. & yamamoto ryohei) 8 ASTROMANTIC
2004 "the Love Bug" (m-flo loves BoA) 8 ASTROMANTIC
2004 "let go" (m-flo loves YOSHIKA) 12 BEAT SPACE NINE
2005 "DOPAMINE" (m-flo loves EMYLI & Diggy-MO') 20 BEAT SPACE NINE
2005 "Loop In My Heart/HEY!" (m-flo loves EMYLI & YOSHIKA/m-flo loves Akiko Wada) 9 BEAT SPACE NINE
2006 "Summer Time Love" (m-flo loves Emi Hinouchi & Ryohei) 12 COSMICOLOR
2006 "Love Song" (m-flo loves BONNIE PINK) 9 COSMICOLOR
2006 "Love Long and Prosper" (m-flo loves STAR TREK) 1 - COSMICOLOR
1 Digital release only.

DVDs

Date of Release Name
September 9, 2000 TUNNEL VISION
September 27, 2001 m-flo Tour 2001 "EXPO EXPO"
March 19, 2003 The Intergalactic Collectors Item
February 23, 2005 ASTROMANTIC DVD
February 22, 2006 m-flo TOUR 2005 BEAT SPACE NINE at Nippon Budokan
October 31, 2007 m-flo TOUR 2007 COSMICOLOR at Yokohama Arena

Vinyls

Year of Release Name
2000 Planet Shining
2004 I wanna Be Down - Nite Grooves (m-flo loves Ryuichi Sakamoto)
2005 A.D.D.P (m-flo loves Monday Michiru)
2005 Vanessa/Cosmic Night Run (m-flo loves Bloodest Saxophone/m-flo loves Nomiya Maki)

Other Appearances

Snacky Chan "What it is?" Remix feat. Shuman & m-flo" September 16, 1994
K. (singer) "The Love Hole feat. Verbal(m-flo)" October 16, 1999
JinuSean "Follow Me feat. m-flo" February 7, 2001
Crystal Kay "Ex-Boyfriend feat. Verbal(m-flo)" July 4, 2001
Utada Hikaru "FINAL DISTANCE [m-flo remix]" July 25, 2001
Hirai Ken "TABOO(a tip of M-FLO remix)" November 28, 2001
NAMIE AMURO & VERBAL "lovin' it" December 27, 2001
SUITE CHIC "WHAT IF feat.VERBAL(m-flo)" February 26, 2003
SUITE CHIC "Just Say So feat.VERBAL(m-flo)" February 26, 2003
Crystal Kay Crystal Kay loves m-flo - "I LIKE IT" June 18, 2003
CHEMISTRY Chemistry meets m-flo - "Now or Never" November 19, 2003
BoA "SOME DAY ONE DAY feat. VERBAL (m-flo)" January 15, 2004
Ugly Duckling Get On! Ugly Duckling Remix September 15, 2004
JHETT a.k.a. YAKKO for AQUARIUS "Sweetest feat. LISA" March 24, 2005
Nomiya Maki Nomiya Maki loves m-flo - "Big Bang Romance" September 2005
Miliyah Kato One Day 夜空 Remix October 26, 2005
YOSHIKA Yoshika loves m-flo - "let go (acoustic version)" January 18, 2006
Ryohei Ryohei feat. VERBAL (m-flo) - "onelove" March 8, 2006
melody. & Ryohei "miss you (nagareboshi REMIX)~m-flo loves melody. & Yamamoto Ryohei" April 12, 2006
LISA "TRIPOD BABY-CLASH the SOUND REMIX-/LISA ♥ m-flo" October 25, 2006
Amazing Nuts! soundtrack she loves the CREAM -Amazing Nuts! Ver.- / m-flo loves DOPING PANDA December 6, 2006
May J. "HERE WE GO feat. VERBAL (m-flo)" December 20, 2006
KM-Markit "Bakaya-row feat. VERBAL (m-flo)" January 13, 2007
MONKEY MAJIK "Picture Perfect" February 7, 2007
Ryohei "ReListen feat. LISA" February 7, 2007
melody. "BoRn 2 luv U / [melody. ♥ m-flo]" May 30, 2007
Double "Summertime feat. Verbal" 2007
Emyli "Tekito Lover feat. Verbal" 2007
DJ Deckstream "Can You Let Me Know feat. Lupe Fiasco, Verbal & Sarah Green" October 3, 2007
Ken Takagi "T.I.M.E. feat Lupe Fiasco, Verbal & anti-bose" November 17, 2007

In 2005 m-flo produced the second solo single ウソツキBOY|Usotsuki-Boy for Korean singer Sunday, who is a part of the group 天上智喜|천상지희|Chun Sang Ji Hee.

Video Games

M-flo has contributed to the video games industry by both providing songs for games, and by advertising for these games. For the first versions of the video game Beatmania IIDX, M-flo has contributed short versions of the songs "L.O.T. (Love Or Truth)", "Mirrorball Satellite 2012", "The Theme from flo jack", "been so long", and "The Rhyme Brokers". Another music related video game, Dance Dance Revolution, featured the songs "The Theme from flo jack", "been so long", and "The Rhyme Brokers".

A version of the track "TRIPOD BABY" (from the album BEAT SPACE NINE) was re-released for the Shadow the Hedgehog video game that came out in November 2005. A commercial for the game, featuring Taku and Verbal, was also aired. Taku and Verbal are big fans of the character Shadow.

References

External links

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