SUITE CHIC is the name of a special project bringing together well-known names from Japanese hip-hop and R&B. It is centered around vocalist Namie Amuro.
Having released two albums and two singles, SUITE CHIC allowed Namie to explore using R&B in her work and also served as an introduction for many of the artists involved to the music scene, helping them gain recognition.
The idea of SUITE CHIC emerged from a conversation between VERBAL (of m-flo) and IMAI RyÃ´suke: the two found themselves debating who could be the Japanese equivalent of Janet Jackson. Both came up with Amuro Namie's name and subsequently sent demo tapes to the singer, who decided to accept the project. The name SUITE CHIC came from VERBAL, who thought it evoked images of class and style and with such a name, various artists and producers quickly began expressing interest in working with the project.
SUITE CHIC's first single GOOD LIFE came out in December of 2002 and sold 30,000 copies in limited editions. On this track Namie was accompanied by FIRSTKLAS, who also wrote the music and lyrics and co-produced the song with IMAI Ryôsuke and ZEEBRA. GOOD LIFE met with moderate success and launched SUITE CHIC's name into the public eye.
Three months later the single Uh Uh…… was released in February 2003. Written by MICHICO and YAKKO, this track had more of a Western style, with samples taken from American artists such as Missy Elliot mixed into it. It gained more success than the previous single and contributed to jump-starting female rapper/singer AI's career as she was featured as a rapper on the single.
Towards the end of that same month, SUITE CHIC finally released its first album WHEN THE POP HITS THE FAN, which was a real showcase of talent for the growing fanbase. Along with the previously contributing artists, others such as DABO, XBS, DJ CELORY (from SOUL CREAM), DJ WATARAI, AKIRA, MURO, RYOKI MATSUMOTO, TSUTCHIE (SHAKKAZOMBIE), Imai Daisuke and Yamaki RyuichirÃ´ all worked on the album. WHEN THE POP HITS THE FAN sold about 200,000 copies and topped out at number four on the Oricon charts. The whole album benefitted from the collaborative production and the highlight was a totally transformed Namie, impeccable in her mastery of Hip-Hop/R&B sound that was so differnt from her old style. The experience ultimately led Namie to mixing pop and R&B into her solo work.
Exactly a month after this album its remixed alter-ago, WHEN POP HITS THE LAB was released. Numerous artists were invited expressily for the remix: Heigo Tani, DJ KAORI, Tatsuo Sunaga, DJ ajapai, yukihiro fukutomi, Marawi Rocks, G.K., Hirofumi Asamoto, BIGZAM & P.H., DJ HAZIME, MUMMY-D from Rhymester, Kaoru Inoue and GTS. WHEN POP HITS THE LAB surprised fans by being completely different from the original album with its incorporation of house, Drum&Bass, ragga-jungle and lounge style music. The remix album was heralded as a success for its unique concept though the sales were lower. On the same day as WHEN POP HITS THE LAB's release saw the release of the DVD single of the two SUITE CHIC's videos.
In May, the collective (represented by ZEEBRA, AI and Amuro Namie) performed live for the first time during the MTV DRY LIVE 2003. During this concert, which took place before the MTV JAPAN VIDEO MUSIC AWARDS, they perfomed five songs, including album versions of the two singles.
After working with Heartsdales on the song Wet'n'Wild for their SUGAR SHINE album, SUITE CHIC left the music scene without giving a reason. Whether they are on hiatus or definitively broken up is anyone's guess, though Amuro Namie has expressed desire for SUITE CHIC to make a comeback. However, as of right now there is nothing to confirm it happening.