As an American I have realized that sometimes we take our influence on other countries for granted? Especially, when it comes to the aspects of entertainment. Everything from the tv shows, movies, sporting events and music all have a great effect on the rest of the world! A perfect example of that is HipHop music! As you already know, hiphop is not just in the hoods, burroughs or on the street corners anymore, it's worldwide! The youth of the Japanese culture have totally embraced the hiphop movement. They have adopted the hiphop music, fashion and even the some of the slang! I had a chance to live in Tokyo for three years back in the 1990's, and I must admit I was pretty shocked by what I saw? The first time I went to a hiphop night club in downtown Tokyo (Shibuya), I saw a crowd of what I thought were black American men standing outside of the club? Tokyo has several American military bases there, so that wouldn't be that odd to see such a thing? After further investigation, I realized that these were not black men at all, but japanese men dressed in baggy jeans, loose fitting t-shirts with their Timberlands half laced. Plus, they all had very dark tanned skin to give the illusion of negroe ethnicity? As I approached the crowd of Japanese men while making my way into the club, it became very clear that these guys had probably never met an American black man in person? Only one of the three could speak an english, so he pretty much translated several questions about various topics ranging from where I was originally from to who was my favorite rapper? Their excitement and enthusiasm about hiphop was unlike any I'd ever seen in America. Once I got inside the actual club I was shocked again when I saw that the DJ was a young Japanese woman! She was mixing and scratching too. I was amazed by the choices of hiphop music the DJ was playing as well. Plenty of underground tracks and hot remixes that were mostly exclusive to Japan. All in all, I realized that Japan was serious about this hiphop music! I have heard several rappers that have toured in Japan say the same thing. Sometimes, they even feel a little embarrassed that the passion for the history and the culture is stronger over there than it is in America?? I agree with that statement to a degree?
Some Japanese hiphop artists have taken the challenge of developing their own signature production sound. DJ Honda was the first Japanese DJ/producer that I heard back in the 1996 who was actually working with a few well-known MCs like Grand Puba, Sadat X, The Alkaholiks & Redman! DJ Honda cracked the door for other MCs and DJs from Japan to make their way into the hiphop game in the new millenium. Honda has released several albums over the years, but just recently in 2005 he dropped his "Best Of DJ Honda" compilation. The title speaks for itself, but if you are not familiar with him, that will be a good place to start.
Two other Japanese DJs that have followed in the footsteps of DJ Honda are DJ Mitsu and DJ Kou-G (Grooveman-Spot). Both have brought that smooth, yet jazzy feel back in hiphop. Mitsu has remixed several classic hiphop and soul records over the last few years. Checkout his "New Awakening" album! Special guests include: K-Otix, Dwele, and Rich Medina, plus a few unknowns. DJ Kou-G keeps it smooth on production as well! He just released his first album entitled, "Eternal Development" in July 2006! He has guest appearances from Grap Luva, Capital A, MED, Miss Jack Davey & O.C. providing vocals over his beats! They are both on the Jazzysport label, and they are making some serious moves on the music tip. I dare say they are the Def Jam of Japan??
DJ's aren't the only thing that Japan has produced! There are also groups like the Teriyaki Boyz (shown in the photo above) who are currently signed to Def Jam Japan! These katz were making serious moves on their debut album "Beef Or Chicken." Def Jam recruited some of the top producers in hiphop like The Neptunes, DJ Premier, The Alchemist, Mark Ronson and DJ Shadow to provide the beats on the album! Damn, if every hiphop artist had the opportunity to have this kind of hook up on their debut album, it may be a different world? The Teriyaki Boyz are not for everyone, especially if you don't like to hear Japanese rap! Not that they are not good at it, but when you can't understand what's being said, it takes away from the whole experience (for some)? I am a production/beat man myself, so I can get past the foreign lingo when the beats are hot!There are lots of great music coming from overseas that you should be checking for. If you ever get a chance to kopp some music from overseas countries like the U.K. or Japan...do it! Most of that music is released on a limited print and release basis, and it is almost impossible to find in the U.S. in most cases?
Amazon.com is a good site to find import releases in most cases. It will probably cost more to purchase it, but if it's worth it's weight in value, it won't really matter..right???