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February 20, 2024 | Tokyo, Japan | by ATTANGO

In the dynamic universe of the Japanese hip-hop scene, Chaki Zulu emerges as an iconic figure whose influence transcends traditional boundaries. Originating from Shizuoka and having lived in the United States, Chaki Zulu embodies a fusion of cultures and sounds that define his work as a composer, DJ, and visionary producer. His career, marked by the formation of THE LOWBROWS in 2005 and the creation of YENTOWN in 2015, illustrates a journey rich in evolutions and innovations.

The Beginning of Chaki Zulu with THE LOWBROWS

Chaki Zulu’s entry into the music industry dates back to 2005 when he formed THE LOWBROWS with Emi. This duo, awarded at the SPACE SHOWER MUSIC VIDEO AWARDS 2010, enjoyed notable success before winding down their activities around 2014. This transition period was crucial for Chaki Zulu, marking a turning point where he questioned his musical future. The artist contemplated leaving the scene, feeling the limitations of expression through DJing and production under his name.

THE LOWBROWS: Chaki Zulu et Emi

THE LOWBROWS: Chaki Zulu and Emi

Chaki Zulu Revolutionizes Japanese Rap with YENTOWN Tokyo

YENTOWN Tokyo, founded by Chaki Zulu in January 2015, is an eloquent illustration of the collaborative and innovative spirit that animates Tokyo’s hip-hop scene. This unique collective emerged from a series of events called “YENJAMIN“, which are regularly held at “Social Club Tokyo” in the bustling district of Shibuya. More than just a music meet-up, these gatherings served as a meeting point for a diverse community of DJs, MCs, directors, models, and other artists united by their passion for rap and dance.

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The origin of YENTOWN dates back to these memorable evenings when energy and creativity overflowed, prompting Chaki Zulu to formalize this effervescence into an official collective. With the collaboration of key figures such as JNKMN, PETZ, and MoneyHorse, YENTOWN quickly emerged, establishing itself as a group of artists and an influential movement in Tokyo’s hip-hop scene. Though sporadic, the events organized by YENTOWN have become essential meet-ups for the crew members. “YENJAMIN“, the founding event, is held about once a year and has seen several significant editions. In July 2017, a special edition was organized to celebrate the release of musical projects by MonyHorse, PETZ, and JNKMN. The following year, in July 2018, another event marked the end of the tour for kZm, an iconic collective member. Another in December 2019, confirming YENTOWN’s place as a pillar of the Tokyo hip-hop community.

What sets YENTOWN apart from other music collectives is the autonomy and diversity of its members. Though united under the YENTOWN banner, each artist pursues their projects. They contribute to a richness and variety of creations, mainly by Chaki Zulu himself.

Yentown Tokyo


Chaki Zulu’s Unique Approach to Production

His holistic approach to music production distinguishes Chaki Zulu in the industry. Refusing to limit himself to providing beats, he engages in creative dialogue with artists, seeking to understand their essence before transforming that understanding into music. This collaborative method and his flair for artistic direction allow Chaki to produce technically impeccable, deeply personal, and resonant works.

Chaki champions the importance of a unique sonic signature and encourages producers to collaborate with artists who truly inspire. His rejection of “type beats” and constant search for originality place him at the forefront of music production, where quality and uniqueness prevail over fleeting trends. Beyond his successes, Chaki Zulu focuses on personal satisfaction and a positive mindset. He advises young producers to stay true to their vision while being open to learning and evolution. This philosophy underlies not only his music but also his impact on the Japanese music scene.

Through YENTOWN and diverse collaborations, Chaki Zulu has shaped a legacy beyond notes and rhythms. He has created a community, a platform for artists’ voices to be heard, and a space where music is a vector of human connection. His contribution to the Japanese hip-hop industry is undeniable, making him a leading producer, mentor, and visionary whose influence will continue to resonate in the years to come.

Photo sources: Discogs, FNMNL.TV, Jpop Wiki


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