Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Major Label Debut: Non-Disclosure

That's right. Today, the Werewolf made his major label debut. Unfortunately, I'm bound by a non-disclosure agreement with the management, but I will say this: a certain high profile Japanese band rounded up a group of people to yell out a shout chorus for their upcoming album. When the record is released, listen carefully and maybe you'll be able to make out my voice amongst the crowd.

I can only give you two more bits of information. First, the band is awesome. And second, they have a lot of money, because studios like this one definitely don't come cheap.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Cherry Blossoms over Kandagawa

The cherry blossoms have been beginning to open their buds this past week. Here are trees overhanging the Kanda River just 10 minutes from my house. I can only imagine how beautiful this same scene will be next week.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Fish Consumption Down

Has the world turned upside down? Is this a sign of impending Armageddon? Japanese consumption of fish is at an all time low.

Check out this story from the Wall Street Journal.

Trading organizations have enlisted the help of a rock band to tackle (pun intended) this crisis. Read the article here.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Korean Music Rec

Check this out, "Tell Yourself" by Korean band Clazziquai. A girl I met at a hostel in Seoul recommended me this song.

Very cool electropop dance rock. I can definitely hear elements of Japanese groups Sakanaction and Vola and the Oriental Machine. These aspects are the earworms and kernels of creativity that permeate throughout the East Asian cultural sphere.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

What's My Name...Bitch?!?!

I saw this poster in Shinjuku Station. Japan Railways is launching a new campaign/contest to name their newest bullet train for the north-east route, cleverly titled, "What's my name?"

You already know the first word that came to my mind to answer the question. Did anyone else have the same chain of thought?

Monday, March 8, 2010

Hip Hop Japan: Vocabulary Quiz

  • Masculinity: 男らしさ、男性権威主義
  • Patriarchy: 父権主義
  • Sexism: セクシズム 性差別主義
  • Object: モノ、モノ扱い
  • Misogyny: 女嫌い、女性蔑視
  • Ho: 売女
  • Bitch: ビッチ
  • Thug: サグ、ワル
  • Incarceration: ムショ行き
list compiled by by 5th Element
    This past Monday night, I attended a film screening and seminar run by 5th Element, an awesome Tokyo based organization and blog dedicated to Hip-hop music and culture. I first ran into these guys last summer at Ian Condry's Hip-Hop Japan seminar and after party.

    Monday's event was a film screening of Beyond Beats and Rhymes, a film by Byron Hurt that takes a critical look at misogyny and sexism in American Hip-hop music. Keiko Tanaka, one of 5th Element's  main contributors, told me after the screening that the members of the group were fans of the film since it came out in 2006 and were patiently waiting for a release in Japan. When one never came, they took matters into their own hands, translating and subtitling the entire film themselves.

    It must have been a monstrous task. The academic jargon of the documentary film must have been difficult enough. But the real challenge I imagine would be translating and conveying the meaning of the various rap songs played throughout the film. Can one think of a more complex usage of wordplay than American Hip-hop music?

    It's something I think about often. The proliferation of American Hip-hop is global, as big in Japan as anywhere else. People the world over listen to great rap music, but how much of the poetry actually passes through cultural and linguistic barriers.

    "Honeys play me close like butta played toast, from the Mississippi down to the East Coast..." I'm sure that plenty of the Shibuya thugs I see listen to Notorious B.I.G., but how many of them truly understand the levels of wordplay of the line above? Hip-hop vocabulary, wordplay, and cultural references are difficult even for native speakers.

    But then again, this could just be my stereotype.  Some of the original Japanese rappers spoke fluent English and picked up the genre in the mid-80's during their travels in the USA. Furthermore, as strange as it may sound, Hip-hop catch phrases and slang have become part of the global lexicon. The aforementioned Shibuya thugs probably wouldn't get beyond the first paragraph of this blog, but ask them about slappin' ho's and bustin' gats and they will probably know exactly what you are talking about.

    The above vocabulary list was passed around for the viewers of the film.

    Friday, March 5, 2010

    Werewolf Taxes

    I just filed my Werewolf  Taxes for last year. It was super 大変 (tough) and 面倒くさい (a pain in the ass) but the staff at the city office were very helpful.

    Remember that the deadline is March 15th! Act fast!

    Proof of Ruby, Vol. II

    In case you were questioning the Werewolf's musical credentials, here's a little more proof of the man in action.
    Last Tuesday at Ruby Room Open Mic, I rocked out a few tunes on my axe, Japanese born Stratocaster-copy エクスカリバー (Excalibur). Photo by my surfrock/ninja friend, Keita.