It was quite the time at the end of the century for Japanese popular music. Things were starting to break out in bona fide R&B. Misia and bird were making an impression with their soulful voices and then later on came some of these hip-hop/rap units such as Bennie K and Diggy Mo'. And within the mix, there was m-flo. J-Pop, meet m-flo (sorry...couldn't help it).
Most of my entries on the J-R&B unit have dealt with their "m-flo loves..." projects. However, the one song that has kept playing over and over again in my memory has been their 2nd single from December 1998. The video for "been so long" may have had Taku, Verbal and Lisa strutting around like some hybrid of the Beastie Boys and hip-hoppers from Edmonton but what they were singing sounded like some good old-fashioned soul from a decade or so back. I think it was Lisa's sweet vocals and that underlying keyboard which could have been inspired by "Just the Two of Us" by Grover Washington Jr. that had my attention. In any case, it's one of my favourite songs from that early J-R&B era.
Surprisingly, the single itself didn't seem to chart but m-flo's debut album from February 2000 "Planet Shining" which had "been so long" peaked at No. 6 and went Double Platinum. The DJ Hasebe remix version on the 1999 "the tripod e.p." got as high as No. 9 on the charts.