Hip-Hop Japan by Ian Condry
Ian Condry did a painstaking amount of research for Hip-Hop Japan, which covers a lot of bases and covers them well. One of the most interesting debates in the book involves the concept of keeping it real. Since we’re in America we have our American version of it, but in Japan they have groups with two differing opinions on the subject, one feeling keeping it real means keeping it American Hip-Hop and staying true to its roots, while the other feels keeping it real refers to the idea of keeping it Japanese and true to one’s own essence. Another interesting item in Hip-Hop Japan is that MCs are taking on the Japanese government which has adjusted history books in an attempt to create a more patriotic country. Hip-Hop Japan also covers the typical battles between commercial and underground, going pop and staying Hip-Hop, and the added struggle for female artists to try to get on. The lone issue I had with the book is that the language used in it doesn’t make for easy reading. You really have to concentrate as the author uses, in my opinion, far too many SAT words and not enough universal language, which is ironic since the entire idea of the book involves globalization. That being said, for anyone interested in how Hip-Hop arrived, spread, and is currently treated, in Japan this is a very informative read.