This reoccurring feature is where I will feature emcees of days gone by. Sometimes with an eye towards critical analysis and other times we just gon’ kick it. In either case it’ll be interesting.
First up Neferititi, a video from her L.I.F.E. Living In Fear of Extension 1994 debut album. Here was a woman who could spit! The production on this album leaned towards the boom bap that I am so very fond of. And she had social commentary for that ass. Her album is like a perfect little snapshot of the hiphop I was enamored with in the early 90’s.
I should also confess that I had several ensembles very close to what she has in this here video (Fisherman’s vest and doc martins baby. What cha’ know about that?!). Though she was raised in Cali and part of the west coast scene when she was signed, she is a girl from the GO.
The album received critical acclaim but financial was not to be. She had a couple of singles off the album and several videos in rotation. I also remember she got a clause put into her record contract that they would pay for her college education… which I always thought was brilliant on her part. Most artists are just left in debt to the record company. Who knows perhaps one of you may have her as a Professor or Doctor right now.
This was my shit. I don’t think you heard me this was my shiiiiiiiiiiiit back in the day. I was so distressed when I could no longer find her. There were hopes of an all female rap tour featuring her, Queen, Yo-Yo among others. It never happened. Of course her presence was short lived as is all too common for women in hiphop. She appeared in and created a song for the movie Panther in 1995 and no one has seen her since.
The commodification of culture in Japan is interesting. The Japanese have a way of examining western pop culture, specifically urban culture with a superficial fine tooth comb, creating subsets like Dubstep/Reggae enthusiasts and purveyors of Hiphop culture. They have a penchant for amplifying the “otherness” in the cultures they appropriate which is of course why they find it so attractive. All the way down to importing East Africans to act as salespeople in Hiphop themed apparel stores and processing their hair in order to have an afro.
Out of this comes, the Teriyaki Boyz. I was familiar with their hit, Beef or Chicken from my Pandora Hiphop station. Of course the only part I understand is the refrain, beef or chicken—but the production work is tight and the language does seem to ride the beat. The dj of the group is Nigo, the founder of Bathing Ape. Which explains a whole lot. Here is a video from 2008, Zock On, with none other than Pharell and Busta Rhymes.
Growth in Japan’s Hiphop community in the last seven to five years has led to them using Hiphop to finally include a Japanese perspective. Prior to this period the subject matter of the songs were very mundane and superficial at best. That’s not to say that mainstream American Hiphop isn’t mundane or superficial mind you, just for different reasons.
During this period a decided move away from amplifying the supposed “otherness” of the Hiphop culture to finally using Hiphop to do what Hiphop does, tell stories. There is some debate in regards to authenticity, and underground versus mainstream The documentary, Scratching the Surface: Japan examines this issue at length.