Issue Index

  Mini Features
  Cultural Features
  Life in Japan
  Big in Japan
  Rant & Rave
  Cars & Bikes
  Health & Beauty
  Money Talks
  Tokyo Tech
  Web Watch
  Food & Drink
  Restaurant Reviews
  Bar Reviews
  Word of Mouth
  Travel Features
  Japan Travel
  International Travel
  Tokyo Talk
  In Store
  Japan Beat
  CD Reviews
  In Person



Friday 10
Saturday 11
Sunday 12
Monday 13
Tuesday 14
Wednesday 15
Thursday 16
Friday 17



499: Son of a LOUD
498: Funk D'Void
497: Phil Mison
496: Deetron
495: Carl Craig
494: London Electricity
493: Joaquin "Joe" Claussell
492: Pure-ifying Shibuya
491: Wire03
490: Outdoor bliss
489: Justin Robertson
488: Kinky Licks
487: Electric Knights
486: Plump DJs
485: James Hardway
484: Vanity
483: Derrick Carter
482: Sound Vortex
481: A Guy Called Gerald
480: In Action
479: David Morales
478: Swayzak
477: King Unique
476: Junkie XL
475: Etoiles
474: Body&SOUL
473: Bombay Records Night
472: Aril Brikha
471: Jazztronik
470: Dimitri From Paris
469: Alternative Hip-Hop Past and Present
468: Green Velvet
467: Sally Nyolo
466: Kerri Chandler
465: Asian Massive
464: Claude Young
463: Alex Paterson
462: Dego
461: Crave for a Groove
460: Towa Tei
459: Rebirth JAG III
457/8: New Year's Rundown
456: Dancelibre Christmas Special
455: Countdown 2003 Crystal Skulls
454: Electraglide
453: Freedom Villiage
452: Pacific High
451: Soundclash


by Don Crispy

Alternative Hip-Hop Past and Present

The Pharcyde

In contrast to the commercial hip-hop on offer at Harlem in Shibuya, this week Yellow in Nishi-Azabu plays host to two of alternative hip-hop’s more unusual forces. One of them represents the current cutting edge in intelligent rap from New York, while the other was one of the most imaginative groups to emerge out of South Central Los Angeles in the early ’90s.

Booked for tonight at Yellow are the MCs of NYC’s Definitive Jux, the label founded just a few years ago by rapper El-P. One of contemporary hip-hop’s pioneers, El-P first made his mark with the groundbreaking trio Company Flow in the mid-late ’90s. Collaborating with Harlem (the real one in NYC) rappers Cannibal Ox and participating in former Rage Against the Machine frontman Zack de la Rocha’s solo album, El-P also found the time to release his own debut album, Fantastic Damage, in 2002.


In the meantime, he had also signed a number of MCs who shared his interest in pushing the boundaries of hip-hop, and in taking on the establishment with politically charged lyrics that contrast starkly with the bling-bling ethic of top-sellers like Jay-Z or the self-absorption of Eminem. Among them were RJD2, who has just released the moody The Horror, and Mr. Lif, perhaps the most touted rapper ever to emerge out of Boston.

Providing counterpoint to the verbal musings of the Def Jux posse, Japan’s champion turntablist Kentaro, the 2002 DMC World Final Champion, will be on hand to demonstrate his scratch athletics...

Coming soon on the heels of Def Jux, West Coast stoner rappers par excellence, the Pharcyde, appear on Tuesday as part of influential Japanese hip-hop producer DJ Hasebe’s weekly Fowl events.

Along with Cypress Hill perhaps the leading West Coast counterpoint to the dominant gangsta rap of the early ’90s, the Pharcyde had faded from view, but are now back in rotation with a series of fresh recordings and tours. While nothing seems to have captured the zeitgeist in the way that 1992’s gold album Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde did, 2000’s Plain Rap was given generally high marks by the music press.

The album saw the loss of one of the group’s four MCs, Fat Lip, to a solo career, but the original trio, Slim Kid Tre, Imani and Booty Brown remained intact. Leading website All Music Guide called it a “highly emotionally tangible album that combines delicate content with tight production.”

Definitive Jux@Yellow, 3/21, 10pm, ¥3,000 (adv), ¥3,500 (door).

The Pharcyde@Yellow, 3/25, 10pm, ¥2,500. Tel: 03-3746-2368.

credits: Yellow