March 13, 2023 | Paris, France | by Krys
The beginnings of ¥ellow Bucks
¥ellow Bucks (Kazu Sakaguchi) began writing rap at 15. When he arrived at high school, he spotted the small group of rappers he would start hanging out with. A precocious artist, he exuded extraordinary confidence and maturity from the beginning. His career began in the group “Young Busta,” and the origin of the name ¥ellow Bucks is related to it. He wanted to keep the initials as a trademark. Yellow means yellow, and Bucks means “making money” in slang.
He became interested in Hip Hop by listening to the sounds of the legendary AK-69, especially the Nagoya rap scene from which he comes, which is very distinctive in Japan. He made a point of representing the local sound and took on the name ヤングトウカイテイオー (Young Tokai Teio). As a result, a name that refers to his predecessor TOKONA-X. He then broadened his horizons by focusing on T.I.’s HipHop in the US. His style and sounds overflow with these influences.
In 2019, he moved his activities from Takayama (his hometown in Gifu prefecture) to Nagoya’s flashy and loud Hip Hop stronghold. It was then that a problematic financial situation pushed ¥ellow Bucks to enter Japan’s biggest rap competition: ラップスタア誕生 (Rapstar Birth!), organized by Abema TV. He won the competition in 2020 and was spotted by Kojoe and DJ RYOW shortly after, who took him under their wing.
At 27, ¥ellow Bucks already has a rich discography of features and iconic tracks that have become emblematic of the current Japanese rap scene. He started in 2018 with a collaboration in the form of a 5-track mini album with Trap accents titled “City View” with his sidekick Playsson, who will be regularly featured in his career on other projects. His style appears provocative with PIMP inclinations. He joyfully displays sex, parties, and bling on the track YARITAGARI.
In 2019, he released “To The Top” and confirmed his fluid and surgical flow under a dark underground beat in the iconic ヤングトウカイテイオー, which takes us into his smoky nights in the neighborhood. It is with this track that he impresses the judges of Rapstar Birth. A flawless performance under DJ RYOW exposes the character’s complexity, which cannot be defined in a fixed image. Playsson is featured on “Count it Up,” where their styles blend in a perfectly balanced mix of dark notes as they enumerate their clubbing adventures. “To The Top” sets the tone and defines the artist.
His flow and rhymes are always spot-on, intertwined with striking beats from the first listen. On “Trust in Bucks,” he pushes his opponents to their limits with punchlines full of rage and blind confidence in his success. He says he “takes three steps forward, one step back.” It’s a lighter track but surprising with its smooth instrumentals. We recognize the assured, fast, and danceable touch of Yellow Bucks that adapts perfectly without losing its power.
Still, in the same year, he released a second EP titled “Excuse me,” on which the track “With my way” produced by SLICK became viral on TikTok Japan with 2.12 million views. He dives into the US classics of Dirty South Trap to dust off the style with choreographies ready for use in clubs. Other tracks from the EP are also worth mentioning. In particular, the perfect “MAZE” featuring Shurkn Pap.
Following his success with Rapstar Birth, he released his first album in 2020 titled “Jungle,” which features collaborations with Miyachi and Shurkn Pap on “Balls Out,” MuKuRo on “Insurance,” MC TYSON on “We know it,” Eric B. Jr. on “Yessir,” and Jin Dogg on “After.” All excellent proof of his talent. It’s worth noting that on “Yessir,” produced by Tee, he draws inspiration from the Neptune productions of the 2000s, and nostalgia takes hold of you at the thought of “I came to party” by NORE—the talent to take winning formulas and update them for today’s audience.
¥ellow Bucks has a rich range of Hip Hop musical and cultural influences that make his sounds solid and refreshing for both the old school and the new generation. He skillfully bridges the gap between the two and brings everyone together. Also, on “Jungle,” the track “My Resort” became so successful that it went viral on TikTok in 2020. The catchy and persistent sound gets stuck in your head and won’t leave. The perfect soundtrack for your summer rides in a convertible. Very short but compelling enough to carry you away.
During the same year, he participated in several projects. Among the most notable, he dropped “Rasen” on a microphone relay project organized by Red Bull Music with Eric.B.Jr, Miyachi, and Kojoe. A gem for fans of good music. ¥ellow Bucks’ skill in the intricate rhymes that leave you breathless and in a trance is immediately recognizable. An excellent exercise in style where the flows of each rapper blend, taking over from their accomplice and adding their touch. He then collaborated with Kojoe, B.D., and Elione in September 2020 on “T.K.N.Y” produced by Statik Selektah, a famous New York producer on a purely East Coast US track—a successful cultural fusion.
See also : ¥ellow Bucks, artist profile
¥ellow Bucks’ consecration comes when he collaborates with the rapper who sparked his passion for rap, AK-69, on two tracks from the album『LIVE: live』 “Bussin'” and “I’m the shit” produced by DJ RYOW. For him, the circle is complete. Both are from the Tokai region. It’s a bridge between old school and new school. AK-69 passes the torch to ¥ellow Bucks and legitimizes him on the stage as the heir to the throne. The transfer is done royally. Energetic and powerful, “Bussin” transcends you wherever you are, in the shower or on the subway. ¥ellow Bucks’ flow pushes you to cool head and shoulder movements.
Each new release is a delight. He hits you with heavy beats and elaborate phrasing in “I’m back,” released in early 2022, followed by hit after hit with equally impressive features. He features on “Giotf” with JP THE WAVY, then “Crown” with Masta Simon and Awich in October 2022, and ends with “Ride with me,” on which he delivers a good West Coast sound infused with Nagoya style. He reinvents himself on every new track he features without ever betraying his roots. And we want more “In da club”!
Overview of the Tokai (Nagoya) rap scene
The Tokai rap scene, comprising the prefectures of Mie, Gifu, Shizuoka, and Aichi, has a particular flavor. Reflecting Nagoya’s ostentatious culture, nourished with red miso, the rappers in this region are raw and dazzling. Proudly displaying their bling-bling, they like to put on a show in style and rhyme. They attack and hit you like bulldozers. Are they looking for finesse? You have to go back to the capital for that. Because around here, they don’t have time to beat around the bush.
Among the local scene’s headliners are AK-69, TOKONA-X (who passed away in 2004) from the MOSSAD group, “E” qual, II-J, AKIRA, Mr. Oz, G.CUE, DJ RYOW, DJ MOTO, DJ OLDE-E, 呂布カルマ (Ryofu Karuma), SOCKS, ANTY THE紅乃壱 (ANTY THE KUNOICHI), nobodyknows+, HOMEMADE 家族, SHO aka S.TIME, SEAMO, MICRO, and C.O.S.To name just a few.
A new wave of talent is also rising. Among them, we can mention Andre (who is currently working with C.O.S.A and Campanella from the D.R.C crew, which includes NEI, Homarelanka, and COVAN), but also MARIE, HIKIGANE SOUND (which provides for 梵頭 BONZU, 裂固 REKKO, 飛兎 BITTO, HARDVERK, 人義 JINGI, MCアルカイダ, めっせんじゃ, sky ‘C’ et MC SNOW). And that’s just a sample…
Rappers from this region are active in major labels and the underground scene. They are essential in Japanese rap and stand out for the strength and confidence emanating from their rhymes. ¥ellow Bucks is a pure product of his environment. He proudly represents the region and has earned the name Young Tokai Teio. He has yet to show the full extent of his talent, and we will continue to follow his career in the future. He is well on his way to becoming a legend.