Pushim, dubbed the 'Queen of Japanese Reggae'.
Howard Campbell, Gleaner Writer
Ever since the Japanese discovered reggae through Bob Marley in the 1970s, Jamaican popular music has retained a strong following in that Asian country. Despite producing a number of home-grown reggae acts, Japan is yet to deliver a reggae performer who has had a major impact in Jamaica.
Pushim, a singer dubbed 'Queen of Japanese Reggae', is the latest hopeful from the land of geishas and kimonos eyeing a Jamaican breakthrough. She was in Kingston recently to record songs with top producers for a new album.
"I did some tracks with 'Lenky' (Stephen Marsden), Birch (Christopher) and Sly and Robbie. I came here to learn the new trends and styles to see if it can work for me," she said in faltering English.
The 32-year-old Pushim is currently working on her sixth album, which will again be marketed and distributed throughout Asia, her strongest market, by Sony Music Entertainment Japan. Her previous album, Sing a Song - Lighter!, was released last year and features the single As One, done with Luciano.
Done in Japanese
Pushim has tested Jamaican waters before. Her first album, Say Greeting, was recorded in Kingston in 1999 and released the following year. She has been back to the country since to record most of her songs, which are done in Japanese.
In 2003 she performed at Reggae Sumfest's International Night on a bill that included pop superstars Destiny's Child and Sean Paul.
Though she was born in Japan, the slender Pushim is actually a third-generation Korean. She said she discovered reggae at age 17, listening to everything from Marley's conscious reggae to dancehall heavyweights like Papa San and Wayne Wonder.
New-wave performers like Wonder, Sean Paul, TOK and Voice Mail have replaced their roots counterparts as the most popular reggae artistes in Japan. Pushim's management have incorporated dancehall elements into her sound with significant success, as her previous three albums have made Japan's national charts.
Pushim's sixth album, yet to be named, will be released in early 2008.
Album cover. - Contributed photos