Started Transcribing Ira Ira Today

From now, I’m going to transcribe ECD‘s Ira Ira (イライラ).

I’m not sure how long it’s going to take, but I’ll be sure to make posts here to update my progress and get a decent idea of how long it will take me to get the lyrics down on ‘paper’. Once I’ve got them written down, I’ll need to get the Chinese characters checked. I could always try to find the lyrics on-line first, but I won’t learn anything. If I make sure I try to do at least one transcription for myself, I should get better at recognising what rappers are saying.

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Posted in Lyrics

Hafu Film Screening

I’ve just (recently) come back from watching a screening of the film Hafu (ハーフ) in Warrington. The event was hosted by the Japan Society North West, attended by around 20 people and gave me an insight into race relations in Japan.

The reason I’m mentioning the film here is that Hip-Hop music often deals with complex social issues and Hafu made me think about ECD and some of his lyrics. Before seeing Hafu, I had planned to work on translating ECD’s tracks such as Ira Ira (イライラ) and Racist (レイシスト) racist whenever I got to them, prioritising songs I’d listened to first and had memorised parts of. Seeing the film left me with things to think about Japan and answers I hope to find in ECD.

I became interested in the film mostly because I have come to know quite a few families with parents from Japan and another country. I used to live in quite a small city, but I came to know of 5 children with parents from countries like the USA, Ghana and Jamaica. With the experiences that I’ve had in Japan, I always wondered what their lives would be like as they grow up. I understand things can be hard when there’s an established order and Japan is a country where the overwhelming majority of people are ethnically Japanese and there seems to be no distinction made between nationality and race/ethnicity. Differences are always emphasised and stereotypes seem to be held onto even deeper than in a country like the UK; or perhaps it’s just easier to see that in Japan? I know that people of mixed heritage aren’t seen as Japanese because people will make assumptions based on the way they look. It doesn’t matter if they were born and grew up in Japan, they’re still not seen as Japanese even after a long conversation. For me, people assume that I can speak English before I even open my mouth and it will be the same for them.

From some things I can understand in ECD’s music, he talks about racists and derogatory terms related to race used to describe people in Japan. I remember leading a class about cross cultural understanding and I showed the students some examples of discrimination from around the world. At the end of the lesson, the teacher said something along the lines of “its lucky there’s no discrimination in Japan”. I pointed out to him that as a foreigner I face discrimination. Then there are Chinese and Koreans who face discrimination. Perhaps there is no discrimination for you, but others do feel it. This omits discrimination (or stereotypes about and) related to people from Kansai, who are seen as more direct, Tohoku people who are seen as country bumpkins, people from Hokkaido, Ainu or Okinawans who are seen as not really being Japanese by some. Needless to say, I could have pointed these things out at the subsequent Hafu film discussion, but felt it best not to make a big deal at that event.

In the end, everyone agreed that these problems would happen everywhere as David from the film pointed out. I agree, but I think there also needs to be a discussion and exploration into why Japan treats non-Japanese the way it does. Why do children in playgrounds debate about paying with a child that looks different when they’re only 6 or 7 years old? Why do Japanese people assume every foreigner they meet speaks English? Why are there teachers who look at the faults of their students and blame it on their foreign blood?

I think I can find some answers and insights in ECD’s music. He mentions some interesting (in the context of what he’s rapping about) discriminatory words I can understand and seems to be telling stories related to race and discrimination. For these reasons, I feel he’s going to be an interesting artist to look into.

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Posted in Cultural Insights, Non Hip-Hop

ECD – Racist (レイシスト)

Racist, a song by Japanese rapper ECD, the subject of which is racism.

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Posted in Song Reviews

ECD – Ira Ira (イライラ)

Ira Ira is a song by rapper ECD

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Posted in Song Reviews

ECD

An old-school Japanese rapper.

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Posted in Artist Profile

Boy Ken

A Dancehall/ Reggae artist who is occasionally a featured artist in Rap songs by various artists.

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Ayumi Hamasaki

Japan’s richest and arguably most popular singer, Ayumi Hamasaki has produced a phonomenal ammount of material throughout her time in the industry, including several forrays into Rap music, mainly through remixes from artists such as DJ Hasebe.

Hamasaki had a tough childhood and was essentially raised by her grandmother. Her father left the family while she was only three years old, meaning that her mother had to work long hours to support them after moving in with Hamasaki’s grandmother.

At 14, she moved to Tokyo and enjoyed some success as a model which also included appearences in movies and television series. Unfortunately, this opportunity didn’t last, as she was too short to be considered a top model. Hamasaki began attending a high school for performing arts, but unfortunately, she dropped out and ended up spending most of her time shopping in Shibuya.

She spent her time shopping and hanging out in clubs, where she met the man who would become her producer. Matsuura Max was impressed by her voice and signed her up to his label. He was, however, not 100% impressed with her voice, so sent her to New York to have singing lessons. Instead of attending the lessons, she went on shopping trips.

Despite this, Hamasaki’s debut album was released in 1999 and proved to be an immense success, landing her the Japan Gold Disc Award for the Best New Artist. After this monumental success, this trend has continued throughout her career and she is now one of the richest female artists in the world, despite being marketed mainly in Japan and only recently embarking upon her first two tours outside of Japan in East Asia.

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ACO

ACO uses her beautiful voice to sing equally beautiful soul tracks that warm the heart.

She has a background in philosophy, making her music deeper and stimulating on several levels.

As well as producing her own albums, earlier on in her career, she performed as a guest artist in several rap songs.

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Tokona-X – Let Me Know Ya ft. Kalassy Nikoff

Yesterday was the 9th anniversary of his death, so let’s get to know Tokona a little bit better.

 

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Posted in Video of the Week

9th Anniversary

It’s 9 years to the day when Tokona-X passed away. Surely one of the best and most exciting rappers Japan has ever produced, he died only months after releasing his long awaited debut album. At the young age of 26, he left behind a wife and daughter. Let’s take a moment to remember him.

R.I.P Tokona-X

Posted in Rappers