The hip-hop/R&B duo Bennie K were the first female urban project to break into the Japanese musical mainstream, their sunny rap tunes with catchy choruses spawning a huge wave of followers in their wake.
The band was established in 1999 in Los Angeles, of all places, where the rapper Cico met Yuki, who was doing vocal training in the U.S. The American experience allowed them to combine English with Japanese in their lyrics, and the newly formed group, which debuted at a Christmas event, began to work its way up the national scene upon returning to Japan. Their first singles, "Melody" and "School Girl," came out in 2001 but, despite the latter being used in a TV drama, they didn't fare too well commercially. However, by the time their debut studio album, Cube, was out in 2002, Bennie K were already performing and collaborating with such big names of the country's hip-hop scene as Soul'd Out, Diggi-Mo', and Def Tech, the success achieved not the least due to the band's appearances at charity events.
Their second full-length, Essence (2003), still bombed in the charts, despite preceding single "Better Days" being picked as the theme song for the movie Hakenkreuz No Tsubasa. However, "Sunrise," Bennie K's first single of 2004, entered the Oricon Top Ten, selling 116,000 copies, and the following album, Synchronicity, managed to ride this wave of success, rising to number five on the album charts. The breakthrough was still to come, though, and it happened in 2005, when the single "Dreamland" was used in a Coca-Cola commercial and stopped one place short of the top position in the charts as a result. Bennie K finally made the last push with their fourth album, Japana-rhythm, which claimed the number one spot in 2005, when the band also took time to release collaborations with m-flo and Seamo. Bennie K haven't been able to emulate this success later, but their 2007-2008 releases stayed in the Top 20, and their fifth album, The World, reached number three on the charts. ~ Alexey Eremenko, Rovi