Red Monkey Rhythm (And Blues)


The blues has always been totally american
As american as apple pie
As american as the blues
As american as apple pie
The question is why?
Why should he blues be so at home here?
Well, america provided the atmosphere...
-Warren G. "Do You See"
A friend of mine told me something once that has stuck with me since that time years ago... "Hiphop artists, singers", he said, "what they're writing about, what they're talking about, these things don't have anything to do with you".

You, being me, a white suburban kid who grew up in the south. I listen to hiphop like a lot of people in my demo do... The music however no more represents me than say Waltzing Matilda or Kimigayo. That is, from listening to this music, I may glean a bit of info about what is happening, what is being said, why it's being said... but the connection ends there. My urban street cred ends with the closure of the Hell Rell mixtape. When I turn off the music, I go back to living my life, predominantly void of stereotypes and racial stressors. This music isn't about me, it wasn't written for me, and it doesn't speak for me... at best, I'm appropriating it--- always for my own uses--- to imagine there is another possibility is futile.

This is the problem, now, and in the future, of Japanese R&B... J-Hop, JUrban... etcetera. The cards are on the table: Japanese music is largely for Japanese people--- Whatever it's origins, it has been transmogrified, changed, to suit the Japanese market. Take out the gritty street crime, put in synths and a chipper chorus urging you to "Make it, if you try!"...

Moreover, can you really call music made in Japan, cranked out by the top dogs at For Life, Avex, and Sony, "Urban"? Japanese people tend to look at white people suspiciously--- so I can't imagine how they would deal with the cultural addition of a Bedford Stuyvesant neighborhood--- with all the additional element of being truly "urban"... Sorry to burst your bubble, but when we say "urban" we mean brown folks... White people living in a white neighborhood is what we call the area of a city that most people without a trust fund just cant afford to live in.

In Japan, you've got roughly three types of this sort of music: Party Music--- the musical stylings of Young MC et al combined with lightweight subjects and bouncy simple beats--- Think HALCALI, Terriyaki Boyz, Rip Slyme. J-Urban/R&B--- Mostly done by girls who've lived for a bit the USA, gleaned a bit of culture and came back to sell that to Japan... Most are 'deeply moved' by the unfortunately un-translatable styles of women like Mary J. Blige & Faith Evans--- that sort of thing... Think AI, Bennie K, Heartsdales, m-Flo.

And last, and certainly least--- the dregs... the sort of music made in Japan that takes itself much more seriously than it should especially considering the fact that it's largely unlistenable. Think Zeebra, S-Word and all the other no-talent wanks who flex and floss & wind up dropping a track on Beats & Breaks Disney. These are the people who aren't invited to the party, shouldn't know about it, but show up anyways and make you listen to their demotape of FRESH RHYMES which feels overall like being punched in the face by music. Wretched. Painful. The sum realization that Japanese is not a language that translates to hiphop very well.

Still, I'm guilty of liking the first two strains. It's music that I enjoy segregated (oh?), by myself that is--- it doesn't translate to anything else. It's like bubblegum mixed with a cookie... sweet and crunchy and weird. Yes, that Japanese girl really is wearing a shirt that says "Black Woman's Pride", what the fuck? It's best to keep this stuff to yourself--- where it belongs.

As HALCALI begin their mediocre climb into adult-hood, they're dropping English versus in favour of delicately crafted Japanese nonsense phrases... Whereas before you got the feeling when they sang, "Meguro, New York, London", that really--- you could just have simplified that listing to "Meguro"... that's not posturing--- that what people accuse Vanilla Ice of--- posing... Now, HALCALI are turning into the girls you will never date--- enough money and age to look and dress like the girls in Egg & Knuckle... a little more refined--- but right back to being 100% Japanese.

And that's the problem--- a lot of articles will tell you how international this music is becoming... Sure, Namie Amuro, Heartsdales, Bennie K etc all sing in English as well as Japanese, but it's no more international than goya champuru... The music's issues and ideals, its topics are squarely and solely within the range of the Japanese consumer, and no place else. This is what people never understand--- this music is not even world-music, it's not trying, nor is it becoming, nor is it geared for a world audience. Simple as that.

The future is HALCALI growing up, buying Hermes bags, and going to trance raves at Air, Heartsdales continuing to sing catchy candy party pop that goes unlistened to outside of Japan, Bennie K continuing to make music that is like the theme song for Any Teen Movie USA mixed with that growling girl rapper vocal style that seems to be influenced by Diggy Mo... And of course the rest of the meaningless hiphop that is unlistenable unknown and not even worth writing about.

Black woman pride? J-Streets wanna know about it. But the streets cant see (What I see...), Every day as Warren G.

The shocking truth about Steve Aoki


Hey look, I'm perfectly willing to accept that Steve "Kid Millionaire" Aoki is a nice guy--- I don't know him, I don't hate him for being the "FADER PARTY" (any party really---) poster golden it-boy-thing of the moment, I don't hate him for that smarmy ubiquitous Bathing Ape hooody you see in every other cobrasnake photo, I guess I dont hate him being IN EVERY OTHER cobrasnake photo it seems, on every hipster list, in every L.A. editorial, all over GAWKER, everywhere you look or read until you just want to go into your bedroom, lock the door, take the phone off the ringer, write that last letter to mom, the editor of the Chronicle, and your ex girlfriend, down a bottle of Seconal with a George Dickle chaser, turn on your Art Brut mix cassette at full blast and damn it all to hell, go kicking and screaming in your Red Monkey Jeans into that awful awful Good Night... fyew.

Seriously, let's calm down. It's not all that bad. Here's the rub. When in gods name did people start praising DJs for good taste? Shit DOG, that's what YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO DO as a DJ... Whens the last time someone said, "Oh yeah, that guy, he's a great DJ, but his records totally suck." Never, Jerk. I could play Bloc Party back to back with Rahmellzee and you know where it gets you 99% of the time? Nowhere. Shit, back before people started name dropping Cool DJ Herc (who couldnt play records to save his life either), that's ALL anyone ever talked about--- the records that DJs played--- Nowadays, everyone sees a pair of $500 dollar turntables and expects that you need a degree from NASSAU just to opperate them, so damn, if what comes out of the speakers doesn't make your ears bleed, you must be Glenn Fucking I'm Fly Gould. But, in the past 15 years or so, since I've ever been a part of some sort of maybe it's a DJ thing--- DJs have became popular for two reasons and two reasons only, one, they get great records that nobody hears again because they are connected to A&R men, or two, they're pretty good looking or have some sort of visual sight-gag that gets them noticed, and jesus, at the very least, have passably good taste in music and an apposable thumb.

That's it. Shit I don't mean to bust the whole scene WIDE OPEN--- but that's it. Don't believe me? Sit back and ask yourself how female DJs get over so well... do you really think they just blew everyone's mind by dropping War Pigs again? Sadly, the scam is that somehow a DJ does something wild and special that nobody else can possibly do--- What's that, it's difficult to scratch? Yeah, and when's the last time you saw someone getting down to a fucking half hour of retarded turntable shit? Never. Know how to make a pretty good mix tape for your girlfriend? Then you are a DJ... it's that simple, and any DJ that tells you different is lying. Would they stick MY MUG on BPM magazine? Doubtful--- sour grapes, Maybe--- but that's the rub.

Still, it's the media you know--- Hipsters aren't half as anoying as people writing about hipsters--- (I'm aware of the irony of that statement, so don't bother pointing it out thanks Gee)... And to read, "Oh yeah, it's so tired, but you know, he really does do what he's paid to do..." Fuck dog--- I want a fucking medal of honor for getting paid to passably entertain a crowd when that's what the fuck my JOB IS, CAPICE??

It's like The Weather Man. Nobody, but nobody likes a douche who gets paid a good deal of money for a minimal ammount of work, that's not all that difficult to begin with. That is unless they get you free drinks.


ps. I'm also aware of the similarities between this post and the article on DJing in Vice magazine from oh say a year or more ago, also I'm aware that I'm a bitter person who probably lives in an underground murder-cave / crawl space, so just ignore all this as some sort of horrible overdose on hubris and bitter rage. K?


  • Hey I thought I'd clue you in that I don't live in Japan anymore... more than a few blog posts that nobody reads back I left Japan, but was unable to get back in which completely fucked my relationship up, and well, here I am now... single again. Am I bitter about Japanese immigration, fuck yeah (Sea King!), but what can you do...


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