MINMI - Natural

review - 07.05.2008 08:00

MINMI shows off the best of herself with a natural flair.

Natural is MINMI’s third album, released in March 2006. Since then, she has only released a number of singles and compilation albums, so this album is currently her last original album. The female artist, songwriter and producer is known for using styles such as hip-hop, R&B, reggae and soca, and Natural is no exception.

After starting off with an intro as usual, the listener is launched into the funky track Nishiazabu densetsu, which was released as a single only a month before Natural’s release. It’s a very funky, groovy song and great for partying. So is It’s Summer Time, which starts with MINMI singing in a rather sad and melancholic way for the intro, but then a drumbeat joins in and the song transforms into cheerful soca. MINMI has joined some competitions in the Caribbean with this song, and it’s no surprise that this summer-themed song fared really well, seeing as it’s very catchy.

Up next is the song FRIENDS, which features the artists shonannokaze, JUMBO MAATCH, TAKAFIN, BOXER KID, RYO the SKYWALKER, PUSHIM, MOOMIN and HOME GROWN, all artists which MINMI has worked with before, and it’s no surprise that these artists - all very well-known artists in the reggae/dancehall scene - appear on this album as well. The song itself is a laid-back reggae song, which probably got a lot of input from the band HOME GROWN, seeing as similar songs can be found in their repertoire. The vocals alternate between all the artists and some vocals are easy to recognize: the jazzy, soulful voice of PUSHIM, the gentle, boyish voice of MOOMIN and rough RYO the SKYWALKER, who produces vocals that seem to be a combination of rapping and singing together.

Shonannokaze makes another appearance on the album, namely in the song YO WELL, which is a fun song. Though it’s not exactly reggae, the beat sounds most like a very quick reggae rhythm. The choruses of the song are really catchy, and seeing as they consist of only two different lines which all include "yo well" being repeated a lot, they're also easy to sing along with.

Also previously released as a single is Are yu ready, a groovy, moderately paced dancehall track. A remix of the song featuring RYO the SKYWALKER can be found on the album as a bonus. Other than the added vocals of the male artist with his rough, grumbling voice, the remix hardly differs from the original version.

Aijisai is a unique song on the album, and not only on the album as it’s the first time that MINMI uses this style in her songs. It’s a fast-paced jazz piece, alternating between quiet parts in which it’s just MINMI singing with a bit of piano accompaniment, to parts in which a whole jazz combo joins in and creates fast-paced jazz. At some points, it seems that both the jazz accompaniment and MINMI’s vocals go their own way, as if they don’t fit together anymore. In the bridge, MINMI holds a small vocal improvisation, which is common in the free jazz genre. Although it has definitely been a great accomplishment for her to create such an outstanding song, it gives off a very nervous and jittery vibe, and if you are not interested in jazz songs, you might find yourself want to hit the 'skip' button on your CD player. After all the jazz chaos, the laid-back, R&B-like Superstitious seems to follow at exactly the right moment and is able to calm down one’s nerves again.

Another outstanding song is Aira, which is a slow paced song with MINMI’s vocals on the foreground. Her vocals are absolutely great, and it seems that with this song, she has the chance to show her vocal qualities. It’s not quite R&B but more a pop-like song with a bit of R&B flavor to it and is incredibly catchy. The last original track of the album is the title song Natural, which can be classified in exactly the same way as it’s also slow paced, though this time the emphasis is more on the R&B-like beat.

MINMI has - once again - delivered a great album with a number of great tracks that show her diversity, but also her high quality. Compared to her other albums, Natural might even be easier to get into, and it’s no surprise that she has taken a prominent spot in the Japanese music scene. MINMI is simply a very talented artist that cannot be ignored!
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