Ima, Kimi E

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Like a poor man's Bennie K, the song/rap duo Lil'B (with light pop vocalist Mie and rapper Aila) burst onto the Oricon charts with 2009's Ima, Kimi E. It's a lightweight romp that just barely manages to hit the rap end of its purported rap/pop crossings. More realistically, Lil'B created a series of straightforward modern pop songs in the vein of a standard J-pop album, then added slight tinges of R&B modernity to spruce up the simplicity a bit. The album is nearly a one-note affair. Nearly, though. There's an interesting adaptation of ska in "Orange" (also a theme to the wildly popular television show Bleach), and a tricky focus on the vocals alone in a remix of the opening track by DJ Kaori. For someone looking for where pop and rap can (somewhat literally) collide, Bennie K provides more energy along with more formidable vocal abilities. Lil'B come off as lightweights on this album, fitting into the image they intend to but disappointing a bit when compared to what else is available in the J-pop world.