Nihongo Rap Breakdown – Ep 129 Debriefing

yo. So I’m a little late with this, buy information pills but I figured it’d be nice to throw up a little breakdown for the last episode. So, refractionist for those who don’t speak moontalk, find this is for you.

In the intro, I said absolutely nothing of importance. Same goes for the outro. Not that that is surprising at all.

On to the artists:

Super Smoky Soul – you’ve actually heard them here before.

S.L.A.C.K. – I actually met this dude, maybe slightly before people started really freaking out about him. His rap style is sorta weird – he slurs his Rs, his intonation is bizarre, and he doesn’t pretend to talk about anything of any great importance. This, believe it or not, is sort of important.

example (warning: awkward translation):
なんて適当にさ 話してる夕方が透き通ってさ   Like just whatever, we talk all night
なんて適当にさ 話してるやつが大好きでさ I like people that just talk like whatever
なんて適当にさ 適当って言葉が大好きでさ Like just whatever, I like the word “whatever”

Here’s a video off the same record, “My Space”:

S.L.A.C.K – Good More.

Don’t miss the bonus snippet at the end for Deep Kiss, probably one of the best midnight skateboard tracks in recent memory.
Norikiyo – a central member of SD Junksta, one of a handful of acts that has essentially been carrying the scene on their backs since the mid 2000s. Norikiyo is very, very recommended. Topically this is a lot of ‘streets is live’ stuff. This version is a remix done by Punpee, who is actually the above mentioned S.L.A.C.K’s brother. Punpee, while being on a totally different pole from, say, Bach Logic, is easily one of the most important producers right now.

M.T.Z – This is actually a friend of mine – I’d say a classmate, but I spend very little time on campus, so yeah. This is actually over an old Planet Asia beat, and one of only two tracks dude has ever recorded (he’s more known in the organization/freestyle circuit). Lyrically, as you can probably tell, this is way more complex and on some ‘sucker MCs’ kind of angle. He’s also a political science grad student at one of the most prestigious universities in the country, so maybe that makes sense.

Actually, lemme tell a story about this dude. One time we were on the 8th floor of our (newly constructed) school building, and I’d brought my skateboard to class. He comes up, laughing at me for riding my skateboard to class, and asks if he can try it (he’s never ridden one before) and I’m like yo, are you sure it’s okay? I mean, we’re indoors.

He gives me this dead serious look, the same look he gets on his face when he’s reading Marx, and says “Yes. This is our space. It belongs to the people”. And proceeds to skate on the brand new carpet.

AKLO – Player. My first encounter with this dude, he was trying to do a kickflip indoors at a bar I had played a show at, slipped off the board, and almost broke my shins. After his recent mixtape AKLO 2.0, I’d have to say that this dude is easily one of the most important forces in recent Nihongo Rap history. He’s only got one record out, but his mixtape game is seriously putting pressure on the rest of the scene, which to this point has been pretty lazy as far as release pace is concerned. Then we’ve got the producer, Ham-R, who also appeared on Seeda’s most recent record (raps and production). Aside from the coked out synths, I recommend paying attention to what he’s doing with his snares – even Bach Logic isn’t really touching this.

MINT – 変形合体 (“henkei gattai”). I’m not really sure how you translate this – the first part is like “transform” (as in “transformers” – get the reference to the original track now?) and the second is like “union”. So basically if you think about Robotron or maybe Power Rangers when they made that big robot or whatever (I hated that show, so I don’t really remember), that’s the idea.

Anyway, Mint is a pretty weird dude. I think a lot of Nihongo Rap fans might know him best from 韻踏合組合 (loosely, and lamely translated, “rhyme association”), but apparently he ditched that group in like 04. A lot of his rhymes are pretty juvenile, complete with crude sex references (think really hard about where you could go with the image of robots transforming/combining into one) and entire songs dedicated to his favorite anime shows, but really this guy is one of my favorite rappers, period right now. And, as I said in the original article, his version of the Chris Brown joint is far, far superior to the original, and I will gladly internet fight anyone who disagrees with me.

Be on the lookout for more Mint in an upcoming jawn. (thanks for reminding me, Timm)

Hannya – Blog #50. Instead of a blog, Hannya releases a new freestyle every week. Each of them are sort of upsettingly good. In this one, he’s (among other things) dissing the Japanese edition of Source Magazine, which I agree with, because while it was nice to have a hip-hop magazine in Japan, it was very irresponsibly written, and probably never should have been released. After 3 issues it died out, though, so whatever. I very highly recommend checking out Hannya’s most recent record, HANNYA – it was probably my favorite record of 2009.

Essencial – Bomb Rush Freestyle. Off of the Backyard Vol 1 mixtape. I think most people remember Smith CN (the first rapper) more than his counterpart, which I guess is unavoidable. Dude’s voice is just that bugged out. Smith CN himself has a new record out – I’ve only heard one cut, but it is very recommended.

a.z – untitled (off a beat CD I got from Mori). I have played at a few events with her, and still don’t quite get it. She’s the producer for a few acts around Tokyo, but the word is that she never listens to hip-hop, at all. She just makes the beats, gives them out, and gets back to work. Really weird, but recently she’s been putting out some nice material. This is probably a good name to keep an eye on.

and that’s it. Now, go back, listen to the Nihongo Rap episode again. And stay tuned for the next installment.

Hell, are people interested in this sort of thing? If you are, I’ll keep doing these and breaking them down – if not…I’ll probably do it anyway, but it’s nice to know what people are interested in.