Daichi Yamamoto thinks that Japanese rap is having a very good half-decade.
âI just think the music itself got better, to be honest,â the 28-year-old rapper says. “I feel like Japanese rappers have become more comfortable with their own experiences.”
He casually describes the very attributes that have made him one of the most exciting new voices to emerge in the genre. The Kyoto native has become a staple of the national hip-hop scene by turning stories from his own life – the usual stuff like breakups into more specific experiences stemming from his life as a biracial child – into songs that are backed up by songs. catchy rhythms that make reference. everything from American hip-hop of the golden age to modern electronic sounds.
Yamamoto is a great representative of contemporary rap in Japan, and now he is gaining more and more attention from abroad. His latest single, “Kill Me”, is a collaboration with Chicago rapper Mick Jenkins put by Frank Renaissance, a new label and production studio based in New York and Tokyo. To celebrate the song’s release, Yamamoto participated in a virtual event that also included a selection of trendy non-fungible tokens (NFT), including special virtual clothing, aimed at Western fans.
âI was more focused on the music,â Yamamoto of the Jazzy Sport record store told Meguro Ward a day before the event. He makes his monthly trip to Tokyo from Kyoto, this time to participate in the digital event aimed at helping him present it to a wider audience. âI had no idea (of NFTs), actually. Sounds cool, âhe laughs. His attention is now focused on âWhitecubeâ (stylized in all caps), his new album due out later this year, which was recently premiered via the relaxed song âMaybeâ.
Born to a Japanese father and Jamaican mother, Yamamoto says his youth has been relatively idyllic, although tough times do arise from time to time.
âI didn’t know I was MÃ©tis. Like, I didn’t have that idea. I thought, ‘I’m the same’, âhe says. âBut some people would point out the difference: ‘Your skin is much darker than mine.’ I thought I might not be Japanese, but I got used to it.
Music was a constant in Yamamoto’s house. Part of it was just thanks to her parents’ shared love for reggae and rocksteady, leading to a house filled with songs. It also helped his father own Club Metro, one of Kyoto’s best clubs and concert halls, although Yamamoto doesn’t have the best memories of space.
âI hate it,â he laughs. âWhen I was about 5, (daddy) would put me and my brother in costumes for a Halloween event, like a weird puppet or something. He would sit me there and everyone would say, “Oh, cute”, but the music was explosive. It was uncomfortable.
While those early brushes with music weren’t always positive, they mostly left Yamamoto with an aversion to Halloween. His real gateway to hip-hop came in his teens. His older brother listened to a wide range of American rappers such as Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg and Eminem, and played their albums aloud at home.
âI thought it was violent and not really to my liking,â he says. Then he found himself humming Dr. Dre.Nuthin ‘but a’ G ‘ThangConstantly at school.
Still not totally in agreement with his brother’s tastes, his brother referred him to more American rap groups, such as Run DMC and A Tribe Called Quest, and his interest in Japanese rappers grew little over the years. time after.
âI was watching the anime ‘Samurai Champloo’, and Shing02 made it the theme song alongside Nujabes,â he recalls. “They are the ones who introduced me to Japanese hip-hop.”
Yamamoto and a few school mates bonded with the genre, playing rap on their school’s sound system over lunch. He started making music at 18, after seeing Shing02 live several times and eventually feeling motivated to try writing his own nursery rhymes in Japanese. This is when his Metro Club The connection was helpful, as he was able to meet Shing02 in the family room, which allowed him to form a relationship with the MC.
âI used to send him demos on Facebook and he would give me advice, for example on how I should prepare the equipment,â Yamamoto explains. “I learned a lot from this.”
Initially, Yamamoto wanted to do political rap similar to Kendrick Lamar, but quickly realized that it was not that easy to achieve. He was going to need a little time to find his own style. His early exit highlights a knack for fast delivery and a penchant for jazzy beats, and by gradually taking his personal experiences and turning them into social commentary, Yamamoto was able to deliver his own form of socially conscious rap.
His 2019 album âAndlessâ begins to feature these themes, especially with the track âBe Good,â which features a line inspired by a real encounter in which a girl told Yamamoto she didn’t want to touch him. because of his dark skin. However, his performance on last year’s EP “Elephant in My Room” really shows how he perfected his style as an artist. The breakup track “Blueberry” features lines about the mother of an ex who rejects him due to his biracial background, while exploring the challenges of his 20s on a dusty soul sample on “Ajisai. “
Whenever the speech touches on something close to Yamamoto’s praise, he quickly turns away, adding that he still has a ways to go. He admits, however, that his words could have an impact. âI thought I could turn (these) experiences into a positive one. â¦ Maybe not positive, but at least convert them to a different energy.
This seems to be Yamamoto’s general approach to songwriting: taking your own experiences and using them to connect with listeners who may not have been through the same things. It’s the same approach he refers to when he talks about the rebirth of rap in Japan and what is making artists buzz here abroad. Yamamoto, via the Jenkins collaboration, is one of the first artists to attempt to shine the spotlight on the country’s hip-hop scene for listeners abroad, and he represents what Japanese rappers are capable of.
Yamamoto won’t buy into the idea that he stands out a bit. He just focuses on making music, including the conclusion to âWhitecube,â and pushes all the other stuff aside (like live performances, which he admits he doesn’t really like). Maybe that’s all we need from him. Let someone else handle the promotion and let the creator create.
Daichi Yamamoto’s new track “Kill Me” is now available. For more information on its next release, “Whitecube”, visit daichibarnett.com.
In accordance with COVID-19 guidelines, the government is strongly urging residents and visitors to exercise caution if they choose to visit bars, restaurants, concert halls and other public spaces.
In a time of both disinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing you can help us make the right story.