OL Culture, Rap, and Neon Lights – Charisma.com in Shibuya


Photo: http://girlspiclive.com/vol03/report.html

On Halloween weekend in 2016 at Shibuya Club Quattro, a mysterious masked figure came out on stage to fiddle with the laptop. An electronic noise started, stopped, started again, and then turned into a song. Lights started flashing and the figure ripped off the mask to reveal DJ Gonchi as a Conehead, and dancing onto the stage was another Coneheaded MC Itsuka.

The electric rap duo of Charisma.com ripped through their first three songs on Halloween weekend without a pause, and then MC Itsuka addressed the audience. “Gokigenyou,” she said, the typical Charisma.com greeting. Itsuka directed everyone’s attention to Gonchi, but in the middle of introducing her, said, “Ah – I’m sorry, but she is not DJ Misoshiru,” referring to another female DJ who performs with another female rapper. The audience erupted into laughter. “The resemblance is there, but no.”

Charisma.com is made up of two school friends who formed the dance/rap unit when both were working as OL, or office ladies. The band has become known as an “OL unit,” but soon after this concert, they would announce they were quitting their jobs to release a full-length album (they said, instead of OLs, from this day forward they would be CEOs).

Their lyrics and stage presence attack social pretense and ideas about politeness: the lead single from their debut EP, Ai Ai Syndrome, was just titled “Hate.” The music video features Itsuka and Gonchi in sleek bob haircuts and lacy off-white dresses, sitting at a vintage table with plates full of flowers while figures in black bodysuits dance mechanically behind them. Halfway through the music video, Gonchi, smiling at the camera, kills the black figures with a series of different weapons, in a spray of CGI lime green blood. “You are cool,” sings Itsuka. “But fool.”

The 2013 album was a start into a new world of genre and gender. Itsuka said in an interview with the international music website MTV81 that when Charisma.com was first formed, she had a lot of anger, so it naturally came out in their music. But the response has been not one of rejection to the anger, but a recognition of it. “Hate” stands at over two million views on YouTube, as does the music video for “Iinazuke Blue” from their first full-length album.


Photo: http://girlspiclive.com/vol03/report.html

The duo played “Mamemame Boy Gasatsu Girl” next, directing a call and response. The audience called out, “Mamemame boy,” while Gonchi responded, “I’m a gasatsu girl” – “Hardworking boy, I’m a rude girl.”

Itsuka’s deadpan humor and ambulatory command of the stage matched Gonchi’s sly smile and unwavering presence behind the laptop (except, of course, when she ran to the front of the stage for “Otsubone Rock” to place a ladder like the one in the song’s music video and briefly pose on it center stage with Itsuka).

The concert was a multi-band performance showcasing women musicians, Girl’s Pic, and after Charisma.com’s relentless set, matched with green lasers and a dancing crowd, the two artists crossed to the left side of the venue to talk to the Girl’s Pic MC’s.

One of the two MC’s, who said she was still 18, said, “I’ve never been to a club before, but that made me want to try going.”

“Ah, but you won’t find this sort of thing in clubs,” said Itsuka, adjusting her Conehead.

It is highly doubtful that you would find that sort of thing anywhere but a Charisma.com concert.

OL Culture, Rap, and Neon Lights – Charisma.com in Shibuya

Upcoming Release: Charisma.com – Aidoro C


Japanese electro-rap duo Charisma.com announced today that they will be releasing a new mini-album on March 2, 2016. The title is Aidoro C [Love Mud C?], and there will be two editions: the 8-track normal edition, and a Tower Records version with different artwork and a bonus track. They will both sell for 2,000 yen, plus tax.

The tracklist is as follows:

  1. Supliminal Diet (possibly a typo, with the intention of subliminal, or a pun, combining supplemental with subliminal?)
  2. Honenuki Ni Koishite (Fall in Love with Having no Backbone)
  3. Koshikake Rappu (Bench Lap/Rap)
  4. PH4
  5. GODcustomer
  6. Toushindai Guree (Life-Size Grey)
  7. Berusassa (People Who Go Home Right With the Sound of the Closing Bell – a slang term first popular in the 1980s, used to refer to students or workers who, instead of going shopping or playing on the playground, go straight home at the end of the day)
  8. Jido-ru (Self-ie)
  9. Buta (Pig) (Tower Records Bonus Track)

Normal edition:


Tower Records edition:


Note: As usual, this group has more puns and plays on words than one can shake a stick at. If you notice something has been mistranslated or has an additional meaning, please comment below.

Upcoming Release: Charisma.com – Aidoro C

Music You May Have Missed: July 2015

In Music You May Have Missed (MYMHM), we cover the new releases from Japanese musicians that may have slipped past your radar, and deserve a second look.

Sakerock – Sayonara

With influences from hard rock, jazz, Latin, and more, after being active for 15 years, Sakerock have decided to call their era of instrumental rock and roll over. Back in April, they released their final album, Sayonara. The soft energy of these last ten tracks easily serve as a soundtrack to summer, and signify the final, joyful musical explosion of a great band.

Salyu – Android & Human Being

Salyu has an origin of almost mythic proportions. In the early 2000s, she gave life to the fictional, ethereal pop singer idolized in the film All About Lily Chou-Chou. A few years later, she made her debut as a true-life vocal artist. Her easily identifiable voice layers over soft electronic beats, a new dance music far away from the electronic and acoustic mystery of her origin, but just as quietly haunting.

Shishido Kavka – K5

Drummer-singer Shishido Kavka has been gaining some well-deserved traction over the past two years since the release of her single “Love Corridor.” Her unapologetically pop tracks, paired with her skill as a long-practiced drummer, make her a talent to watch.

Charisma.com – OLest

The most vicious office lady MCs in the business are back, releasing their major debut after two independent mini-albums. The distorted, catchy synths of their previous CDs, paired with MC Istuka’s reputation for brutal attacks on Japanese society (the title of their first major single was the simple, but effective, “HATE“), made this mini-album one of our most anticipated releases of the year.

[Want to know more about Itsuka and Gonchi’s perspective on culture, politeness, and Japanese rap music, and get a taste of what their live shows are like? Check out MTV81’s subtitled interview with Charisma.com here.]

Music You May Have Missed: July 2015

New & Upcoming Japanese Music – 2/12/15

Newly Arrived:

Violetta Operetta

Image courtesy of aliproject.jp

On January 21, ALI PROJECT released their (approximately) 31st full-length album Violetta Operetta, continuing their legacy as a decades-active classical-pop duo. The orchestral LP includes 5 original compositions, 4 variations on songs by classical composers, and a cover of the early Kate Bush track “L’Amour Looks Something Like You.”

Charismatic jazz vocalist Nakano Yoshie, better known as one half of ska-jazz group EGO-WRAPPIN’, released her second solo album on January 14. Titled Madokei (Window View), the CD strips down to the simple, with only a few instruments (mainly piano) backing ballads and urgent mantras alike. Nakano’s characteristic simplicity, playfulness, and scatting abound.

Coming Soon:

Sebastian X‘s performances seem driven by joy. Even in the more somber “Kokoro” (Heart), Nagahara Manatsu’s voice trembles with bright emotion as the piano falls like rain. Their upcoming mini-album of the same name will include 5 original tracks and a remix of the lead single by Parkgolf. Look for it on March 11.


Image courtesy of Miyavi on Facebook.

Hot off success from his first movie role as Watanabe Mutsuhiro in Unbroken, Miyavi returns to the music scene on April 15 with The OthersLittle about the album is known right now, but the phrase “guitar rock dance music” was included in the announcement. Here’s hoping this means we can expect something decidedly groovy from the guitar hero in the spring.

Super-duper electro-pop group Sugar’s Campaign are unleashing their cheery ’80s vibe onto the world with their debut full-length, Friends. Satisfy your sweet tooth on January 21, courtesy of Speedstar Records.

In just a matter of days (February 18, to be exact), electronic duo Capsule will release the new album Wave Runner. If the newly revealed “Another World” and album preview are anything to go by, Capsule appear to be moving to a style of EDM more influenced by the western scene, unlike even their last album, 2012’s CAPS LOCK. It will be interesting to witness their evolution, and thankfully, we don’t have long to wait to hear it.

New & Upcoming Japanese Music – 2/12/15