Beets ando Raimuzu
It's been six years since the last Bomb Hip-Hop update on what's goin on in the Japanese hip hop world, so what's up? Well a lot has changed. Def Jam and DPG records have set up shop here, a solid hip hop community has been set up and it's spreadin' to every corner of the country.
"Hip Hop is Universal", out from the mouth of one of most respected rappers in the game Guru explains to a camera that Hip Hop may have started in the USA but has been embraced by the world community and given birth to rhymes in tounges from around the world. Guru is speaking to the camera for The Batchelor Pad camera crew who brought Japanese rap group "Furin Kazan" to New York City to participate in the 10th Anniversary of the Lyricist Lounge (the first foreigners to perform at the event). So really what's so special? Well let's think about it for a sec. People around the world have come to love hip hop like us, yet for them they don't understand the rhymes like we do. Yeah, they might understand English but Hip Hop slang is a wall that's difficult for foreigners to get over. What's really special about what happened on June 21, 2001 is that for the first time on American soil, Americans bounced to the beat not understanding a word but feelin' the vibe just like everyone else in the world does. Rap went around the world and came back to New York. That's the bottom line of this whole thing, "THA VIBE" and the feeling that event gave me resonates to the core to this day.
You heard Japanese shit back in the day, heard the intro of Missy's "Get ur freak on", not too impressed? Well me neither. The early days of rap in Japan produced some really wack shit, that can''t be denied, but finally the land of samurais and uncooked fish is producin' some artists worth lookin' at. Lyricism has risen to a new level and beat makin' isn't just slow, repetitive high school band samples anymore. But before I can get into that there are some things you gotta understand about Japan's hip hop scene. It's split just like America's East coast, West coast, South etc. There's the Tokyo and Yokohama (outer city scene). Tokyo has the money and recognition, so of course the records first came from there. Musically there wasn't much too be had, all the same. Then there were the heads in Yokohama, without the cash but heavy in foreign influence,via Yokosuka and many other nearby military bases, who got the funk and a little more of the picture of what hip hop is all about.
So who's hot and who ain't in 2001?
Rhymester, still wreckin' stages with precision. Lyrically dangerous, just as many metaphors and word play as Black Sheep. The two MC's and DJ can't help to be compared to RUN DMC in stature. Their rhymes at times unbelievable, their performance pure entertainment. Legendary status and a semi old school flava their new single "Royal Straight Flush" keeps heads rockin' to the beat. There is also Furin Kazan, just as heavy and lyrical as EPMD. These guys grew up like some kids in the PJ's. All former members of gangs who've seen the light in rhymin' and spread a light of positivity for all the kids. They came to NYC for the Lyricists Lounge and had half the club rockin', doesn't sound like much? When's the last time you heard anything like that happenin' on American soil... try never. And how about Zeebra, with a gravely voice and enough charisma to make any show rock. He put together the first rap indy label (worth mentioning) Future Shock and proceeded to pick up some of the best groups today. So I must go to his best pick, Ozrosaurus. One MC that puts the word lyricism in the game. And one DJ, DJ Tomo who without a doubt makes the best beats in this land HANDS DOWN! The kid's got a future in the worldwide scene already makin beats for "Synchronicity", a US / Japan compilation worth takin' a listen to. And on the topic of US/Japan compilations you can't forget DJ Yutaka's "World Unity". Although he can get pretty corny at times, you gotta give it up to anyone who can get PE, GURU, Cypress Hill etc. to get in on a US JAPAN compi album.
The new comers are bringing more to the game on a daily basis. But just as there are talented rhymers there have to be the wack and I like to expose these "toys" cuz there's been a lot of bad press about who's good and I want all the hip hop heads in the USA to know who sucks. Let's start with the worst, "Nitro Microphone Underground", the debut artist for Def Jam Japan (by the way Def Jam Japan is not anything like Def Jam, just a bad copy). They're the least talented artists that I have ever seen in my career in the music business. Even Nitro fans say that they can't understand what they are saying and admit that most of the time they don't rhyme. Isn't the whole point of rappin' to say something to people with a poetic, skillful, cleverness? Then there's "Rino Latina II" who runs (and trips) through his own rhymes and beats and leaves you with shreds of weakly put together nursery rhymes. How about the lyrical dis-symphony of Muro. With his crack head looks and a voice that reminds one of a pre school chorus recital, straight boring! It's a shame that the Japanese people are fooled into believing that this is what rap is really is about. I could go on for days telling you how wack some of these guys are and how it's a crime about how much praise and money they get on a daily basis, but Tokyo is a money machine and without real greats to compare to, there has to be something - I guess.
What I wanna tell you by this article is that day by day, as many wack artists there are here, there are also greats and those who will be groundbreaking tommorow. There is also a whole comedy sketch of wanna-be rappers dressed head to toe in FUBU and Pelle Pell etc. with a du rag on top (a very entertaining sight). And many who are even comin' up bi-lingual, ready to rip on home and foreign shores ex. "Sphere Of Influence". But for all the ills I see, I can also see the brightness on the horizon and at the current rate they'll be coming to the US soon to irritate you with their ICHI, NI, SAN, SHI.
THA INTERNATIONAL REVELUTION SYNDICATE