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.





(BGM) Super Smoky Soul – Smile. かなり前に、てか考えてみれば2年あまり前に、サーキュレーションズの栗原さんに貰った。m/supersmokysoul.

S.L.A.C.K. – Hot Cake. ビートがいい加減というか、シンプルでいいというか。カッコいいから、後者かな。それにしてもスラック君のゆったりとしたラップ、いいな。m/slack56psg.

Norikiyo – In Da Hood (Punpee 地元は違えど Remix). オリジナルも充分カッコよかったけど、このリミックはまた一味違うね。つい口ずさむようなベースラインもハンパない。m/norikiyo.

M.T.Z. – スキル、リアル. M.T.Zはフリースタイルとかは昔やってたらしいけど、録音物はこれとあと一曲しかない。今回に出るラッパーとは違って、一小節に言葉を盛り込むスタイルは最初はちょっとアレと思ったけど、もっかい聴いたらこれはちょっとウケるなって思った。てか最後の「革命が起こらない」ってなんっすかw mtz-the-illest [at] / ï¼ m__t__z

MINT – 変形合体. オリジナルよりも遥かにヤバイ。異論は認めない。@minchanbaby

AKLO – Player. A Day On The Wayを持ってない人はまずいないと思うけど、一応その一曲を入れてみた。彼のミックステープ(無料だからダウンロードして)の中で好きな曲は結構多いから一番好きなヤツはどれだって訊かれたら困るけど、この曲のちょっとイカれたフロウは特に気に入った。あとHam-Rの作曲っぷりも見せたかった。BLに例えられるのは多分しょうがないけど、Ham-Rのスネアの処理は…文字には説明しづらいけど、とにかく深い。わかんなかったら耳澄ましてもう一回聴いてみ。m/aklosound.

般若 – Blog # 50. 俺のポッドキャストが好きじゃなくても、是非般若のヤツは登録すべき。毎週ブログをフリースタイル形式でやる、しかもフリーダウンロードとして配信するアーティストって他は見当たらない。他のアーティストならせっかく書き留めたライムを大事にしといてアルバムで出すというのに般若は毎回ヤバイフロウを配信するってなんという余裕だろう。そう言えばソース誌が休刊になったって噂は本当だったみたいだな。別にいいけどね。

Essencial – Bomb Rush Freestyle. みんなはもうKid’s Return聴きましたよね? m/backyardessencial.

(BGM) a.z – トラック5. これは(三千世界の)森に焼いてもらったRから取ったから、ちゃんとした曲名があるかどうかは知らない。A.Zもあまり知られていないと思うけど、それはもうすぐ変わると思う。森の話によると、a.zはヒップホップとかは全く聴かない。なのにこんな曲が作れる。どうかしてます。m/xxxxazxxxx.




So I’m going to apologize upfront:

1. The intro is long. The outro is long. This episode is long. Almost an hour. I talk a lot.
2. I repeatedly use a word that I’m not really known for using, pharm ever.

That out of the way, tadalafil here’s the background:

The other day, during the course of my very serious research (read: half-asleep, cruising the Japanese interwebs), I discovered Japanese beef.

Apparently underground rappers Seeda and Oki of Geek had taken offense to something in the outro of the Teriyaki Boyz’ (probably only known in the States (and Japan) for showing up on Youtube videos wearing Bape and dancing around with Kanye) new single, “Serious Japanese”. They then proceeded to air their frustrations in public by recording a dis track (complete with accompanying video) and posting it up on Seeda’s blog.

Check the video below:


The two lines which we will be tackling today are below:

一人はビッチで後はカス you are serious? へそが茶を沸かす
One of you is a bitch, the others are trash. You are serious? Don’t make me laugh

二番煎じはニガの機嫌取り ass hall ガバガバ $をばらまく
You’re played out, just trying to make the niggers* like you. Assholes**, throwing money around

*Ostensibly, the black rappers/producers they’re associated with. I could have used the “nigga” form, but it’s being used more as an insult here, so it’s sort of in between a swap-word for “dude” and an actual proper racial slur.
**I think that’s what they meant.

Note that the above is a really loose translation. If you have a more eloquent one, let me know and I’ll fix it.

Oh yes, shouts to VTS for this week’s image design and some insight on the lyrics. Also shouts to ミスターポポ.

So yeah. Pretty much every underground Japanese rap fan is aware of this dis, the Teriyaki Boyz’ Verbal has responded to it on his blog and mentioned it on his podcast, and it’s been picked up on every site I can find – but there’s one angle that hasn’t been touched – the fact that in the first twenty seconds, somebody drops the N-bomb.

I thought it was interesting. So today, using this dis track as a starting point, we’ll look at some of the different ways we can look at this phenomenon (if you want to call it that), some of the background on how we got to this point, and in the end, I guess, look a little closer at the situation as it is at home.

A lot of talking, a lot of what will likely come off as little more than pointless theorizing, but at the very least, an awful lot of dope music.


beatro: The Brothers Johnson – Q.
beatro 2: Nipsey Hussle – Hussle in the House

Re-Up Gang – Real Niggas. I didn’t actually sit down and listen to the whole mixtape, but I do dig this cut. I had a conversation at a ramen shop this morning (somebody needs to tell these dudes that letting customers in at 3:AM, handing them soup, and then closing down at 3:20 is not funny) about the above dis track, and he said “Dex, you know that for these guys, ‘nigga’ just means ‘guy’”. If so, this song gives more than a few real-life examples of how to use the word – actually, this one goes above and beyond and expands on it, giving you the macho angle on the word as well.

beatro 3: Super Smoky Soul – Simply (Extended Version)

Stat Quo – I’m Sorry. As I said in the episode, this stands on its own as a piece of art. All of these songs do. You don’t have to “agree” with what the dude is saying – since when did we start judging art with a PC ruler? But dig dude’s stance on the word: “They can’t say it but we can…Look at the power we hold in our hand”. And while this dude does make an attempt at showing respect towards women, this song is sort of uncompromisingly misogynistic – if you spelled it out in mathematical terms, bitch characteristics = “female” characteristics = undesirable characteristics. A = B = C, thus A = C, Q.E.D. This is sort of a theme throughout a good number of these songs.

beatro 4: Jr Don – Bring In Black 2

Tribe Called Quest – Sucka Nigga. I guess this is the most palatable song of any of these for the PC set. That said, there’s not much substantially different from Q-Tip’s and Stat Quo’s stances on the word.

Three 6 Mafia – Watcha Starin At feat Lil Jon. Sort of had to put these dudes in here. Lil Jon was possibly the root cause of white frat dudes screaming “nigga whut” at college parties from ’03-06′. At least from what I saw.

beatro 5: Unagi – High? Yes

Tahir – You Don’t Know Me. Probably the most challenging cut on here. Make no mistake about it, though – as the dude says, the sentiments expressed on this record aren’t rare, and they aren’t new. Lyrics to rewind and contemplate: “It’s my right to say this right here. This is my shit. This is my hood, and you’re in it“.

beatro 6: Sadat X – Hang ‘Em High

Jayo Felony – Don’t Call Me Nigga. I’m realizing that it’s starting to look like I put a large portion of this together just doing a search in my iTunes folder for “nigga”. Early 90s west coast. A lot of prison rap on this particular album, for good reason.

MC Tucker and DJ Irv - Where Dey At? Probably a couple hooks in here you’ll recognize. Obviously this is just the intro, but the rest of the song sorta does the same thing.

beatro 7: Platinum Pied Pipers – After the Worries

You know, maybe I should have said this earlier, but I’m not here on some NAACP whining about how the word itself is bad. I’m not really interested in “nigga” right now beyond its use as a tool here to give us a look at a bigger issue. You know, just putting that out there.

Sporty T – Sporty Talkin 93. Edited. Note how “niggas” and “brothers” is used absolutely interchangeably. The first time I ever saw the Beef DVD series was in Japan (they got all 3 out here). Subtitles. And every time the dudes on TV said “that nigga this, a real nigga wouldn’t that, I don’t like them niggas”, etc, the “nigga” was translated as “黒人” “black person”. Sometimes 黒人男性, “black male”. So if you want to go with the “ignorance of the weight of the word” route, this would be a good thing to cite. Also I’m realizing now that I didn’t talk about bitches as much as I promised – maybe some other time.

Jayo Felony – Niggas and Bitches. This was released as a radio single, believe it or not. And since the hook (you sort of have to hear it to believe it, try not to laugh) wasn’t going to work on radio, they actually cut a totally different version for the B-side called “Brothers and Sisters”, complete with each “nigga” being replaced for “brother”, and “bitch” for “sister” throughout the song. It’s sort of interesting to think about how simply switching the two words around makes such a large difference – the sentiment of the song doesn’t change at all (either way, it’s a tribute to loyal friends).

So that’s what it is for this round. Hit the comments, I’m interested.

(oh, and even though I said this in the episode, let me put it in writing – don’t mistake this as ‘dex is hating on Japan/Japanese rap/rappers’. And I like Seeda (and what I’ve heard of Geek). I sorta wish I woulda done a proper Japanese rap show before I put this out, but I had to get this off my chest first. Look for an actual music episode coming soon.)



At long last, allergist it’s the long-awaited threequel to one of the original concept/spinoff series on this hip-hop podcast – the Beat Tape. Keeping in tradition with recent developments on the show, this tape is all over the place – stylistically and geographically. Three continents, multiple subgenres and inspirations, and just damn. I guarantee at least three rewinds on this episode or your money backTM

Intro – DJ Umoja – Ieidc. Words – my father. I wish I was kidding.

1’05 – Super Smoky Soul – Good Night. Straight out of Tokyo. The Light Smoke EP is the first release on Circulations Japan, and it goes hard. Please check this. Shouts to Dai.

3’40 – DJ Cam – The Sound of The Streets. Now on to France. This joint coulda easily showed up on Episode #68.

5’20 – Iain Haywood – Smooth. And over to the UK. Oh, come on. It’s cute.

6’35 – Alf-Alpha – 22 Year Old. Back to southern CA. I had this on replay for a very long time. Cut is cute as hell, and I want to call the words/scratches clever, but it’s a little beyond that. I hear dude has an album out. You should check it maybe.

10’00 – Gil Scott-Heron – Is That Jazz (excerpt). I have no qualms about jacking things from YouTube. The bassline on this thing is ridiculous.

12’00 – Suburb - untitled. I’ve been sitting on these joints for far too long. Suburb is sort of the truth. Check him out.

13’25 – Suburb - Cornelius Brothers flip. See above.

15’30 – Unagi - The One Revisited. Cut is hard.

18’05 – Disrupt - International Karate Championship. Jahtari, the Leipzig, Germany-based label has been doing their thing for a minute now. This was their first release and you know I am fucking with it.

20’40 – Disrupt - Events Occur In Realtime. This is an exclusive given to me by the Jahtari kids themselves.

22’05 – J Dilla – Make Em NV (instrumental). Yep.

23’20 – 9th Wonder – Track 07. Off the marginally infamous “Black Album Rejects” beat tape that floated around forever ago.

This is clearly the best beat tape episode yet, and it has nothing to do with me. Thanks to all the artists for contributing tracks, and I was serious in the outro. I want to know what you think about this. Let me know.

ps – in case you missed the first two in the series, check here: beat tape vol 1, and vol 2.