A lot of people have been asking me what the deal is with Japanese hip-hop1 is, web I’ve been sort of meaning to do this for a while, so let’s get into it – a proper (sort of) review/breakdown on a Japanese rap joint (ps – “Nihongo” = Japanese for “Japanese language”).
So let me make something clear upfront.
First off, after being here for over a year, I think I can say with confidence that a large portion of Japanese hip-hop is not very good2. I would actually go as far to say that a good portion of it is actually completely unlistenable, and that any non-native speaker of Japanese who claims to prefer Japanese rap over, say, its American counterpart is either very very familiar with the underground scene here, or lacks musical taste.2.5
This coming from someone who only has Japanese rap in his mp3 player.
Second, I should also say here if someone asked me who my favorite Japanese rapper was, at this point in time I’d have to say Seeda. It is also
an undisputable fact my opinion that his last album is a landmark record in Japanese rap history, is the best Japanese rap record out right now, and is going to be a major force in what happens over the next couple years in the scene. So if you want to call me biased, sure, I’m biased. But then again, I’m not really known for talking much on this site about things I don’t like.
Second point five, people who have been following the show might recognize the Seeda from the mildly infamous Niggas and Bitches episode (Seeda isn’t the rapper whose lyrics I took up, though – that was Oki). Yes, this is the dude who shared a mic with that rapper in the video. Possibly something to keep in mind as you read this.
Third, I’m going to try to avoid making really broad generalizations about Japanese society/politics – partially because such generalizations aren’t possible, and partially because if you wanna know more about society/politics, there are better places to learn about that than from me. As good as I am at hiding it, I actually don’t know anything about anything, and encourage you to do your own research.
So, on to the track itself. This one is called Dear Japan, by Seeda, produced by Bach Logic. I actually heard this maybe four or so months ago when Seeda put it up for a couple days on his myspace, and actually liked it enough to want to drop it on the show. Didn’t happen, obviously.
Okay, let’s get to the video already:
Seeda – Dear Japan (prod. Bach Logic)
The first thing that you will notice is that dude stares at the camera for like fifteen full seconds before he even says a word. If I may be permitted to say something here about dude （Seedaさん、気を悪くしないで下さいね）, dude kinda has a crazy look in his eye. And he continues to make really skurry faces at the camera for the whole video. So if that makes you uncomfortable, yeah.
Lyrical breakdown, background, and wild, baseless speculations after the jump.