As it stands, all those west of the sun generally know of the Asian music scene is that Korean rapper PSY has built an impressive career for himself as an international personality with the insanely popular “Gangnam Style”, followed up by “Gentleman”. Beyond that, though, they may know of BoA after her small-time American debut some years ago, or maybe of K-pop superpowers such as Big Bang, 2NE1, or SNSD, and maybe even of Kyu Sakamoto, who became a one-hit wonder after the release of his single, “Ue o Muite Arukou” decades ago, released internationally as “Sukiyaki”. Who they may not know of and who they should know of, however, is pop-rock group MONKEY MAJIK, centralized from out of Sendai. The band is comprised of two Canadian brothers, Maynard and Blaise Plant, as well as two Japanese instrumentalists: bassist DICK and percussionist tax.
The band had first established itself on the mainstream Japanese music scene with the release of their single “Around the World” in 2006, which kick-started their ascension into fame after three prior indie releases in the form of extended play “Tired”, and full-length albums “Spade” and “Eastview”. Even after the release of their fourth album, “Thank You”, which produced two hit singles in the form of “Fly” and the aforementioned “Around the World”, the group had become well-known personalities, yet had decided to remain in homey Sendai instead of moving over to Tokyo like many mainstream acts in the area do. Years later, they would be partaking in the rebuilding their city after the devastating Tōhoku earthquake on 3.11, later broadcasting their time spent helping the citizens of Sendai on MTV Japan as part of their “Send愛” (Send-ai, or send love- a play on their city’s name) earthquake relief endeavor, which also included a concert featuring other Japanese artists such as Gagle, Rake, and SOUL ADDICTION. These kind acts, in turn, had acquired them a bit of western recognition in Canada, where they were earlier named as Canadian-Japanese goodwill ambassadors.
Choosing to remain in Sendai and then choosing to help rebuild it alone shows just what kind of people the band members of MONKEY MAJIK are. It is absolutely endearing and inspiring to know that such modest, down-to-earth, good people are able to thrive in the industry as MONKEY MAJIK does, with seven albums and five certified gold single under their belt, with many more to come. Currently, MONKEY MAJIK are focusing on the release of their latest single, “Story”, which is bound to be a part of a great upcoming album sooner than later. You can listen to the counterpart of “Story”, “If”, here.
Other highlights of the band’s career thus far include their collaboration with popular Japanese rap duo m-flo, comprised of MC Verbal and DJ Taku Takahashi, “Picture Perfect Love”, their incredibly popular love songs, “Aishiteru”, “Sora wa Maru de..”, and “Together”. Lead singers Blaise and Maynard also have solo projects which you can look into named The Alphabet Project and blanc., respectively, each of which focus more on English whilst occasionally crossing over with both Japanese and French languages, making for another unique component to a unique sound only these two talented brothers can create.
For more on MONKEY MAJIK, you can follow them over their official Facebook page. There are also multiple music videos of theirs available over YouTube via the Avex Network channel, and you can also follow each band-mate over Twitter: @MaynardPlant, @BlaisePlant, @dick_mori, and @tax_k. At this very moment, you can import their works for a reasonable price from CDJapan, here.