Japanese hip hop

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Japanese Hip Hop is said to have begun when Hiroshi Fujiwara returned to Japan and started playing Hip-Hop records in the early 1980s.[1] Japanese hip hop generally tends to be most directly influenced by old school hip hop, taking from the era's catchy beats, dance culture, and overall fun and carefree nature and incorporating it into their music. As a result, hip hop stands as one of the most commercially viable mainstream music genres in Japan, and the line between it and pop music is frequently blurred.


History of Hip-hop in Japan

Although rather informal and small scale, the early days of Japanese hip-hop provide the history for the emergence of the cultural movement. Early hip-hop was not led by corporate interests, but rather was largely ignored by large record companies and performance venues. In this respect, Japanese hip-hop offers a representation of cultural globalization, as it expanded despite criticism on the part of record companies and major media outlets. The history shows that certain kinds of cultural exchange are not initiated through cultural understanding, but instead from some interaction that can incite a desire to learn, to participate, and to contribute individuality. In Japan, this motivation to represent individuality was breakdancing, which was one of the leading edges of hip-hop at the time. An important spark for Japanese hip-hop occurred in 1983, when breakdancing appeared in Tokyo through film and live performances even though American hip hop records could previously be heard in Tokyo discos. According to Takagi Kan, a first generation Japanese MC, "I couldn't tell what was with the rap and the DJing...but with the breakdancing and graffiti art, you could understand it visually. Or rather, it wasn't understanding so much as, 'Whoa, that's cool' [kakoii]. With rap and DJing, I couldn't imagine what could be cool about it." Dancing has a visual impact that everyone can understand, when it comes to dance there is not a language barrier. Break dancing represented the foundation for the spread of Japanese hip-hop and served as a medium for globalization.[2][3]

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