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CD REVIEW

Tigarah “The Funkeira goes BANG!”

by Daniel Robson

When Japanese emcee Tigarah emerged in 2006, she shouldered great expectations. Her gritty Brazilian baile-funk party sound, created together with a Swiss-German producer she met on one of many inspiring trips to Sao Paolo, had her labeled “the Japanese M.I.A.,” and she built up a firm following with a handmade demo CD sold online. A major-label deal quickly followed, but debut album “Revolution” never emerged, held up by label restructuring and then scrapped altogether.

Now a debut is actually on the shelves; but “The Funkeira Goes Bang!” is a different beast. Her original baile-funk schtick is largely replaced by tough electro grooves recorded with young Japanese producer Plasmo, a welcome shift that keeps her sound diverse. Her original Brazilian flavor still peeks through on a few tracks, such as the samba-esque percussion on “Much Music Generation” and a guest spot from Rio de Janeiro rapper Deize Tigrona on “Where You Headed For?”

As before, Tigarah delivers grime-tinged ragged raps in Japanese and English, twisting words into a teasing flow augmented by melodic sections and audience-baiting invitations to “Bounce, bounce, bounce, bounce.” Yes, there are cliches, but on the whole her lyrics are feisty and intelligent.

A few tracks from “Revolution” do appear. “Girl Fight” and “Roppongi Do-ri” are represented by elongated and barely recognizable club remixes that would have served better as B-sides; but the two that surface intact — the rousing “Color, Culture, Money, Beauty” and the seductive “Japanese Queen” — are undoubtedly the album’s standouts. This suggests that a great record could have been even better had Tigarah’s original vision survived development hell. But now that she’s finally gone bang!, perhaps Tigarah can establish a career worthy of fireworks.