Fujii Kaze, a Japanese R&B singer already beloved in his home country, is being brought to the attention of a global audience thanks to one of his songs going viral on TikTok.
The 25-year-old star released the lovelorn song “Shinunoga E-Wa” as part of his debut album HELP EVER HURT NEVER back in 2020, and now, the track is taking over the popular social media app around the world.
So far, over 178.5 thousand videos have been created using the instantly infectious song as their soundtrack. Popular videos set to the J-pop sensation’s track include anime fan edits, clips of fans recreating the song on the guitar or the traditional instrument known as the chakhe, piano tutorials to help others learn the song, and many more.
Thanks to its ever-growing popularity on TikTok, “Shinunoga E-Wa” has achieved a massive breakthrough in the US. The song is currently at No.3 on the Spotify US Viral 50 Chart, spurred on by its domination on the app.
Translated into English, “Shinunoga E-Wa”’s title means “I’d rather die,” and that tension filters through the song regardless of language. In his lyrics, Kaze writes of being separated from his partner by distance, but committed to fighting through the hardships they face. “I choose you over three meals a day,” he sings resolutely. “If I had to keep being separated from you like this/I’d rather die/I’d rather die.”
Although still a relative newcomer to the Japanese music scene, Kaze has already garnered acclaim since debuting in 2019. That year, he released his first single, “Nan-Nan,” which drew attention for his use of the dialect from his hometown of Okayama, a city in western Japan around 90 miles from Osaka.
Thanks to his meteoric rise, Kaze is predicted to become the biggest musical phenomenon to come out of Japan since Utada Hikaru. The Japanese-American singer-songwriter scored the best-selling debut album in Japanese history with First Love in 1999 and also achieved significant success overseas.
Despite being in the early stages of his professional career, Kaze has been growing his fanbase since childhood. The rising star began his musical endeavors at the age of 12, uploading covers of popular songs from Japan and further afield to YouTube. His music nowadays marries the influences from both his home country and western stars, bringing together traditional Japanese kayōkyoku pop sounds with trap beats and tinges of jazz.
Earlier this year, Fujii followed up HELP EVER HURT NEVER with his second album, LOVE ALL SERVE ALL. The record topped both the Japanese Billboard charts and the Oricon Albums Chart and has since been certified platinum by the Recording Association of Japan (RIAJ), beating his debut’s gold certification.