Hip hop here is mostly imitation. Definitely. Hip hop is seen as something that’s independent and a little bit antisociety so a lot of young kids get into it as something to identify with outside the mainstream. But there’s nothing particularly Japanese about what they say. Some artists like Rip Slyme and Kick the Can Crew get a positive message from hip hop. They say, ‘be yourself.’ That’s positive. But some rappers are, like wannabe gangsta and they rap about thug life in Japan. But there aren’t any gangs here.
-Yuko Asanuma, Editor, Clue Magazine
Japanese rap is a topic for which there is an incredible amount to be said. I’ve noticed in my travels through the otaku world that rap isn’t taken very seriously, and Japanese rap is essentially an oxymoron. The volume of scholarship that exists already does an amazing job of providing manifold ways of looking at the global phenomenon – and most of those books are worth reading – but this isn’t a book club, chieftains. Tonight’s guest DJ has prepared a list that will excite, ignite and inform you about the j-scene.
In listening to the show tonight, it’s important to realize that this is not an exploration of the interaction between of “hip-hop” and “japanese culture” as separate entities; the point is not to observe hip-hop as an American thing being used by Japanese people, but to understand how practitioners understand and perform hip hop on their own terms.
David Morris will be my associate in crime tonight, and here’s what he has to say for himself:
Howdy folks, this is just a note from David Morris, I’ll be joining Bryan for the show this evening from 6-8. I’m bringing in a big crate of CDs I’ve harvested over a couple of years spent interviewing rappers and getting to know the Japanese hip hop scene. I’ll be spinning everything from the super-murky, smoked-out weirdness of Killer Bong to the poetic bliss of Shibito to the grimy aggression of MSC. I’ve got a bunch of stories and inside info to share about all of these guys, so if you’re curious just what kind of Japanese person picks up the mic, and what comes out the other end when they do, tune in.