Flashback Friday: Crystal Kay - Girl U love | Japanese R&B? Nailed it.

Crystal Kay - Girl U love | Random J Pop

J-R&B didn't start with Crystal Kay, but she's been one of the few artists in Japan who has done it, navigated it and pulled it off well and consistently since the very beginning. She didn't always get it right, but her missteps were still better than most trying it on their best day.

Crystal had delivered some some good J-R&B offerings during her humble beginnings. But for me personally, "Girl U love" was the earliest point in her discography where she really nailed it. Whilst "Eternal memories" was a great song, which has aged considerably well and could easily be lumped in with PR&B; Crystal got lost in it. "Girl's night" was a bop, but it was such a typical song of the 2000s which had a sound and a look which was not exclusive to her. "Girl U love" on the other hand was a great showcase of the vocals that we'd grow to love more and more as she got older and set an early blueprint for what would eventually become Crystal Kay's signature sound.

"Girl U love" was an example of J-R&B done right and done with care, without trying to compete with a trend. Building the sound around the familiar melody of Shalamar's "A night to remember" was a stroke of genius.

Whenever I listen to a J-R&B song, there's always a part of me which compares it to Crystal Kay. For me, she is the litmus test for J-R&B and "Girl U love" marked the true beginning of her being that.

Crystal didn't just make a statement with the song, but also its video. The music video to "Girl U love" doesn't appear to be anything special on the surface, but it featured some pretty significant traits which spoke to the genuineness (is that even a damn word!?) of Crystal Kay as an artist, something which has been trivialised over the past few years. Crystal wasn't trying to fool the public into thinking she was older than she was. She wasn't trying to look like the flyest girl. No attempt was made to 'tame' Crystal's blackness. And her love interest in the video is also bi-racial. Everything about the song and video felt completely genuine at a time when so many artists were projecting themselves in the image of what they felt others would like or what was popular amongst white pop stars in the US. Crystal had no time for that shit.

Over the past 7 years Crystal has gotten caught up in the label and popularity politics that's had her become so far removed from the girl who was just doing the music she loved without question. Crystal Kay may be a little lost now, but gems such as "Girl U love" continue to remain as a beacon should Crystal ever decide to find her way back.