Born on February 9, 1981 in Okinawa Prefecture of Japan, Chinen Rina began her studies at the Okinawa Actors School. This study encompassed professional vocal training and dance. Because of her obvious talent for both singing and dancing, some incorrectly stereotype Rina into the catagory of an aidoru or pop idol.
The Okinawa Actors School is famous throughout Japan for producing such entertainment sensations as the group SPEED and the hip-hop dance group Da Pump. The former queen of J-Pop, Amuro Namie is also an alumna of the school.
With a strong voice, she delivers the same quality vocals both in concert and in the recording studio. It is amazing that such a young woman has such a level of excellence.
As a singer, Chinen made her debut in October of 1996 with the single DO-DO FOR ME, a pop song with a relentless beat and catchy, stylized lyrics. Using a blend of English and Japanese, it is a song that speakers of either language can appreciate. Her follow-up single, precious delicious was just as brilliant with a softer sound to it. With the same polished vocals, Chinen created an experience. Her third single PINCH ~love me deeper~ followed with its R&B-influenced sound. The fourth single released by Chinen is perhaps one of her strongest and my personal favorite. Break Out Emotion is a powerful and polished love song with memorable lyrics and usual vocal pyrotechnics that Chinen uses. Her best-selling fifth single wing was her first big hit. It climbed the Japanese Oricon Music Chart and into the top five.
Next in the achievements of this singer was her first album. Growing was released in June of 1998. Greeted by positive reviews both in Japan and on the internet, Growing is an achievement that Chinen can be proud of. Her singles Be proud, Be yourself, GOD BLESS THE WORLD, and YES ushered in a more rock-influenced and fuller sound from Rina. The B-side songs were also of a rock style. Perhaps she was shedding the pop music style that she had begun with. Or perhaps she was just being true to herself. Rina has never restricted herself to one genre of music.
After the release of these singles, she had Growing Tour 1999. This tour showcased her popular songs. Versatility was the key word during this concert tour. Coming out with several band members and wielding her own guitar, Rina played while she sang. Her style denoted a rocker. One can only use the word bad-ass to describe her during the beginning of the performance. Later, she came out in leather pants and began the pop portion of the concert. The choreography was dead on and accented Rina's ability.
Her single, IN YOUR EYES is the one that introduced me to Rina. This is a song that can only be considered a "power ballad." Though it may not be slow enough to be considered a ballad, it is a song of such emotional energy and of slower tempo than conventional rock pieces. The images in the song are conveyed through Rina's sincerity when she sings. I still get goosebumps when I listen to this song.
2000 was a time for change. R&B singer Utada Hikaru had happened on the scene and the Japanese pop industry was shifting toward this genre. Rina continued releasing singles but there is a huge break in the story here...
Now, you may be thinking: "That doesn't seem like a big break to me!" and while it wasn't a large time period, it was a huge leap in the singer's career. Baby Love is a very energetic and unrelenting single. Using synthesizers and a generous amount of Rina whispering, "Baby Love..." this song was fun and joyful. The release of the March best collection was seen as premature by many fans and critics. However, if we look at the idea behind the release, we can understand why the production company behind Chinen Rina would have opted for this release: she was to undergo a drastic change in music style less than half a year later.
Love, Make Together ushered in a new age in Rina's career. With its unhurried strings at the beginning and Rina's coquettish singing of the line, "New love make together," this song through long-time listeners through a loop. From the cover--sporting a more mature and sexy image for the artist--to the new identity as an R&B diva, Rina's music was changing. She began to release singles in her new genre like an old pro. Though the releases may have been made to keep up with the changing market, it is more probable that the change was something Rina herself was interested in. After all, she was raised listening to all types of music. Michael Jackson was one of her earliest musical influences. And on her official home page, she said, "...This is more a product of my idea..." in regards to the second original album, Breath that collected her R&B singles together.
Rina turned 20 on February 9, 2001. To commemorate this special birthday, on which Rina became an adult in her country, a special ballad was planned. Love you close is officially Rina's first ballad. It is a rich, slow song that celebrates finding true love and never looking back. The c/w (coupled-with) song, Evermore is one of those rare occasions in life when something is so beautiful it hurts.
At the same time Chinen Rina's career was changing, a cover of Ricky Martin's song She Bangs was released by a mysterious artist named R*I*N*A. In fact, Chinen Rina was hand-picked by the production company of the original to cover the song. In a quote on the Sony Records website concerning the single, the lyricist said of Chinen, "She has a powerful voice and the story will be clear from the point of a woman." Thus the lyrics, "she bangs" were replaced with, "sugoi! sugoi!" Of course English was used in places. The new song was titled Club Zipangu and released under the name R*I*N*A.
Five years after her debut, Rina's second album was released. Breath was a triumph for the singer in many ways. She was able to produce a record that was more in line with her own thinking and she co-wrote lyrics for two of the tracks. The songs are all amazing again and unlike many R&B artists, Rina has a clear voice which can gain a certain amount of huskiness if need be, but never takes on a grainy texture so frequently heard in the genre. At times, the accompaniment fades away to almost nothing and Rina's voice is the soul support for the song.
After a brief set of lives--or live perfomances--to promote the album, Rina all but disappeared from the music market. She still writes mini-essays on her homepage at Sony and is a regular on "The! Yoru mo Hippare" singing and doing interviews, but many of her fans have begun to be restless. Online groups want to see Rina singing again. She may surprise us. Numerous sources have reported that she wanted to continue her education and is now studying.
There is still hope for fans of the singer named Chinen Rina. We need only be patient.