Kubota Toshi...25 Years and Still Kickin'!

19.6.11 ShaSha LaPerf 7 Comments

When people ask me about Japanese R&B and who the big names are, I actually don't say CHEMISTRY or EXILE first. I mention this guy: Kubota Toshinobu (or Toshi)

Toshi is often considered to be the "pioneer of Japanese R&B." Although Japan had been doing R& since the 70s, Toshi had a big hand in it's rise to popularity and influcences many other Japanese R&B artists like Chemistry, Atsushi from EXILE, Skoop on Somebody, and Hirai Ken. Toshi made his album debut in 1986 but his single "La La La Love Song" which featured Naomi Campbell (yes phone-throwing model Naomi Campbell) that was his biggest hit.

So here are some reasons why I love Kubota Toshi!

His music is fucking good.
Despite the fact that the Japanese R&B boom has been waning for the past few years, Toshi has maintained a mix of pop R&B, smooth neo-soul, and baby-making music. Just take a listen:

80's Toshi - Cry On Your Smile 

90's Toshi - LA LA LA Love Song (feat. Naomi Campbell) 

00's Toshi - Kimi no Soba ni

Hot stuff right? Although he's not hitting number one of the charts like his releases generally make it to the top ten of the Oricon. Even in America it's hard for some R&B artists to keep going after 20 years but Toshi hasn't lost a lot of steam.

He's worked with many big names in American music.
Kubota Toshi has actually released three albums in the states, his most recent being a Time to Share in 2004. The album featured duets with Angie Stone and Mos Def. He;s aslo worked with other big names such as Bootsy Collins, Rapheael Saddiq, and George Clinton. Recently he worked with Al B Sure, using a sample of his "Nite and Day" to create his song "24/7 ~Nite and Day~"

He's an inspiration to many Japanese and non-Japanese artists.
Like America, it's not that uncommon for Japanese artists to make a tribute album to other well-known artists. However Kubota Toshi is one of the few artists to get tribute albums for both Japanese and non-Japanese artist. In 2004, "SOUL TREE?a musical tribute to Toshinobu Kubota?" was released and featured the voices of popular Japanese artists like MISIA, Skoop on Somebody, SOULHEAD, Sowelu, The Gospellers, and Atsushi for EXILE. Speaking of Atsushi he's done numerous covers of Toshi's works including a cover of his song "Missing" which he performed at his solo live.

In 2008, it was time for non-Japanese artists to take onToshi's work. The album The World Sing KUBOTA was released and featured artists like Diana King, Peabo Bryson, Take 6, and Arrest Development.

He rocks the Asian afro.
Toshi has gone through many hairstyles from the short cut to dreads to 90s boyband hair. But no style is as cool as his fro. Just check this shit out.

By the way, Toshi is 49. And yes he's still looking good!

His music is fuckin awesome.
Yes, it bears repeating. And more videos!

so I had to give mad love to Toshi for staying the game for 25 years. He'll release his 26th single on June 29. And according to Tokyohive, he's collaborating EXILE's Atsushi on his upcoming "Gold Skool" album. Both guys are great vocalists:

So I'm really looking forward to the collaboration and the new album. Hopefully some of y'all will check out his music too. There hasn't been any word on it if he's going to release another album in the states, but who knows.

For more info Toshi check out this Wiki page: English   Japanese
And his Website: English  Japanese


  1. Wow!! Thanks for this because I really haven't been listening to any Japanese R&B and this is definitely at great starter list!

  2. No prob! Like I said Toshi's been around for sometime and has an impressive discography. The songs I posted are some of my faves.

  3. How did I miss out on this man? In the past I listened to a lot of Japanese R&B artist as well as the one in the states. I like what I'm hearing from Toshi. I guess I was too busy paying attention to Hiroshima.

  4. Woohoo another Toshi fan is made!!!

  5. Woo woo! I was listening to an R&B/Anime playlist when stopped everything when I heard Naomi Campbell's vocals on a Japanese track! And the way they harmonized the English & Japanese was great! I'm so going to so get all of his stuff! You know, few people can sport a good 'fro without a little African blood in them, and Toshinobusan looks like he could be Amerasian.

  6. I'm a fan of Toshi when I was in Nagoya doing my 3 months industrial training. It was way back in the year of 1980s. I still follow up once in awhile with his latest songs. Seriously, the old songs really hit me like crazy. Until now, I do missed listening to him.