Somewhere between an EP and an album, Japonicana is Japanese pop star Jin Akanishi's attempt to break into the American market. Formerly the lead singer in popular boy band Kat-Tun, Jin leaves behind any traces of the teen pop sound of his past in favor of a sleekly produced modern R&B/club sound. With guest spots from rapper Prophet, production from techno lifer Static Revenger, club girl Uffie, and pop star Jason Derulo, almost all the modern pop bases are covered as Jin cruises through uptempo club bangers, midtempo loverboy grooves, and slow jam ballads. The guests are mostly top quality (the exception being Uffie on the utterly brainless "That's What She Said"), the production, which is often done by Jin himself, is computer perfect, and the songs are consistently pro sounding. The main problem with the album is that the songs are merely reminiscent of songs that are catchy; there's nothing here that sounds unique or interesting enough to boost Jin above the rest of the modern pop crowd. His voice is nondescript as well, mostly thin with any traces of personality processed out. In keeping with the prevailing theme, the lyrics are mostly faceless, apart from a few spots of embarrassment (who really wants to "party like the Black Eyed Peas"?!) and pain (rapping "cocaine, I'm a fiend" and then making a sniffing sound is just plain tacky) that cry out for some editing. Unsurprisingly, the album is easily forgettable, and as far as introductions go, Japonicana is thoroughly underwhelming. While it isn't bad enough to make you want to banish Jin from your stereo forever, odds are slim to none you'll ever want to hear from him again.
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AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra