12 Love Stories

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It's a sign of the times for Japanese urban music when their top artists begin releasing albums with nary a track not "featuring" a guest star, as can sometimes be the standard with American urban singles. Dohzi-t's 12 Love Stories, however, goes an extra step, with only 3 of the 13 tracks not including a featured artist. Here, the formula is simple. Dohzi-t raps softly over some tinkling piano music, and a soft-throated songstress warbles across the chorus in response. The album opens with a give and take between Dohzi and Beni, an Okinawan-American singer who carries the track with her vocals. That format simply gets repeated for the rest of the album. Bigger names make their appearances along the way, from Miliyah Kato and Thelma Aoyama (who both perform similarly to Beni) to fellow rappers Shota Shimizu and Kreva (who both have lighter styles not entirely unlike Dohzi-t, though Kreva manages to show Dohzi up with a little more rhythm). Even for fans of the fairly stereotypical sounds of J-Urban, this album is likely to come off as a bit one-note. For those looking for the wider variety of contemporary Japanese music however, this will definitely come off as one-note.