April 14, 2023 | by Krys クリス
IG : @mctyson_official
MC TYSON, whose real name is Alaadeen, was born on May 9, 1991, in Suminoe-Ku (Osaka). He has established himself as one of the few trilingual artists on the local scene, rapping in Japanese, English, and Arabic. He is a half (ハーフ) in Japan, a term now considered derogatory but refers to a half-Japanese person. Born to a Japanese mother and an Egyptian father, he grew up between Europe and Africa until his parents’ divorce. His mother then decided to move back to Osaka while he entered middle school. He started rapping in the fall of 2010, inspired by big names such as ANARCHY, Simon, Ryuzo, AK-69, and MACCHO, whom he constantly listened to. He was particularly drawn to the Nagoya rap scene. He started freestyling with his high school friends and gradually entered the rap sphere of Kansai.
He made a name for himself, and among the young rappers of Osaka, he was nicknamed “the great rookie” due to his physique. His stage name comes from the fact that he has always displayed a flashy style in the streets of Osaka, and he has often been photographed in big cars. His bling-bling outfit and bodybuilder physique earned him a reputation as a boxer and an MC. Thus, MC TYSON was born. He released his first singles in 2013, revealing a young guy trying to find his style in “Pressure” and “I Have a Dream”. He honed his skills in the following years and gained more mastery. His hoarse voice found its flow. He no longer spits his rhymes and lays them down on beats with Westcoast U.S. accents. In 2015, he co-founded CHECKMATE ENTERTAINMENT and released his first album in 2016 titled “The Message“. Three more albums followed between 2018 and 2021, from “The Message II” to “The Message 4” under the label ELDEEN INDUSTRY, a name he has kept since. All of his albums have become classics of Japanese rap. He became a must-listen with the legendary “The Message 3“, which contains gems such as “I’m T”, a gangsta attitude anthem made in Osaka, “Chain on my Neck” feat. ¥ellow Bucks & Ozworld, “Where’s my roots” feat. Japanese Magenese, which established him as an essential rapper in Kansai. A little bonus on the album is one of the most controversial, dark, and anxiety-inducing tracks with Chicago Drill vibes: “Romanée-Conti” Feat. Vingo & Bark (BAD HOP), on which he invites us into his mind. His favorite subjects: big cars, gangsta life, Bad bitches, all sprinkled with a touch of G.O.D. He followed up in 2021 with “The Message 4“, equally good, featuring hits such as “Local Star 2” or “Music Hustler” with West Coast U.S. influences reminiscent of Snoop Dogg in his early days, but also tracks with more diversified styles such as “you know me?” feat. M.U.D. & Gottz, “My last 16 Bars” and “Angela” feat. PUSHIM & RUDEBWOY FACE.
He is one of the heavyweights not only in the Kansai Japanese rap scene but now also in Japan as a whole. He’s featured with many other artists, including Hideyoshi, Japanese Magenese, Ralph, Kowichi, Watson, JP THE WAVY, ¥ellow Bucks, OZworld, Vingo, Bark, and SALU, just to name a few. His new album, “The Message 5“, was released on April 12 and features ten highly anticipated tracks. He gives us a taste with the first singles, “Taking Over” featuring Guca Owl and Tsubaki, followed by “Caddy & Rari” featuring Jin Dogg, and “G’s Up” featuring Watson, all of which showcase the rapper’s musical maturity acquired over the years and continues to evolve. He confirms his style while touching on deeper subjects, revealing himself to the listener more intimately.
IG : @sadmadjake
Jin Dogg, whose real name is Jake Yoon, was born on September 10th, 1991, in Ikuno Ward, located in the Korean district of Osaka. He is of Korean origin but was born in Japan (known as 在日 zainichi in Japan). His dual identity was trampled on within the uniform Japanese society, which ignited a thirst for justice and pushed him towards rap. His pseudonym Jin Dogg is a mix of the Korean dog breed “Jindo” and the rapper Snoop Dogg. At age 10, he moved to Korea and attended a local Japanese school. Like Japan, he was bullied for being perceived as Japanese in a traumatized Korean society due to its past. He then studied briefly in Australia before returning to South Korea, where he enrolled in an American school. He did not stay there long and was expelled for skipping classes. He eventually finished his studies at a Japanese high school, where he discovered his passion for rap. His older sister, 14 years older than him, introduced him to rap unintentionally through her listening. During a recording session with a friend at the high school, he decided to start seriously writing.
He began listening to G-funk under the influence of U.S. rappers such as Snoop Dogg, Notorious B.I.G, and Deepflow in South Korea. In Japan, Zeebra and Ozrosaurus had a significant impact on him. It’s worth noting that punk rock and metal also influenced his productions considerably. After being invited by a friend to see ANARCHY and Hannya in concert, he started performing and recording in 2011. He met WILYWNKA there, with whom he collaborated on “アホばっか” in 2018. Why is there such a gap between meeting and collaborating? He released his first E.P., “Welcome to Bang Bang I.K.N.”, in March 2012 but was forced to disappear from the scene after its release due to legal troubles. He did not remain in his discography. He spent some time cleaning luxury hotels in South Korea before re-emerging in 2015 when he created the label Hibrid Entertainment with his partner Young Yujiro. The members include DJ BULLSET, 3ch, DJ ASAMI, Lil YamaGucci, Warkar, and B.K.
In the same year, “Hibrid or Die Vol.1” will be released with the iconic track “AM 2:00” featuring 23vrsz, where he delivers a smoothly auto-tuned piece, and one of his most mainstream tracks, “KAMIKAZE“. His universe is dark and unsettling, with beats that blend seamlessly with his extremely eclectic flow. Jin Dogg delivers hit after hit with his rap albums, starting with “SAD JAKE” and “MAD JAKE” released in 2019, a double album that reflects his musical bipolarity, ranging from rage to melancholy, and a testament to his “Hybrid” D.N.A. To get into Jin Dogg’s head, you must listen to tracks like “LITTLE DEMON” and “DIRTY KANSAI”, on which you cannot help but nod your head to the hypnotic beat. Do we prefer him when he’s S.A.D. or MAD? They are inseparable… He then followed up with two E.P.s, “1st High – 抱腹絶倒 – mixed by DJ BULLSET” released in 2016, and “2nd High -魑魅魍魎- mixed by DJ BULLSET” the following year. This series was so successful on the Japanese scene that he dedicated the third volume to his third album “3rd High “起死回生” (mixed by DJ BULLSET)” in 2020, now legendary in Japanese rap. This album is an archive of hits, including “街風” (Machikaze) feat. REAL-T, “Tom Cruise“, “Nantokanaru” (mixed by DJ BULLSET), “Run it Back” feat. D-SETO, calling for the club, the unsettling “Spielberg” feat. Shaka Bose, and the poetic “One Love “32”.
Following this collection is the E.P. “HELL GATE” in 2019, a collaboration with OVER KILL, and then the album “You Don’t Know” released in 2021. He expresses himself best through Trap. Jin Dogg spits his rage and anger with energy he draws from the depths of his cultural traumas. He transitions from a laid-back voice reminiscent of B-Real from the California group Cypress Hill (think of the track 街風 feat. REAL-T) to piercing screams that tear through his live performances, remnants of his punk rock/metal influences. He doesn’t often write lyrics and finishes everything in the studio. He focuses on emotions and considers music as his means of relieving stress. He is gifted in spoken-word rap, with little importance given to rhymes, and makes the most of his Kansai dialect. His latest release is the magnificent “Put in Work“, a concentrated burst of energy produced in Osaka. He presented it on the “03 Performances” YouTube channel with a local music video before releasing it in March 2023.
IG : @imjaggla
JAGGLA was born on January 10, 1987, in Takatsuki, Osaka prefecture. In middle school, he fell in love with Hip Hop when he saw a TV commercial for the legendary Tokyo group King Ghidorah, which included Zeebra and K Dub Shine. His name, JAGGLA, comes from a slot machine brand found in all Pachinko parlors nationwide. At a young age, he started working part-time in the Amemura (American Village) district of Osaka, where vinyl shops with all the classical black music from the US and trendy streetwear and sneaker concept stores were booming at the time. The neighborhood was buzzing with Sound Systems organized by the shops. JAGGLA immersed himself in this environment and began to frequent the first rap groups in the Kansai region. He started his career by performing at clubs with his crew Tornado. He quickly caught the attention of a local headliner, rapper Gazzila, who took him under his wing. His first album, entitled 蜃気楼 Shinkiro (Mirage in Japanese), was released in November 2016. The tracks reflect his early club performances: festive, light, and with more artisanal production.
He then created his production company Tornado Records 竜巻一家 (“Tatsumaki Ikka” Tornado Family in Japanese). He brought on board his longtime companions Cz Tiger, Lil Dragon, Bic, Habu, and two other members who have since passed away: Dee and K-yo Yayo, to whom he dedicated the track 4.21. In the background of the track, you can hear K-yo Yayo’s voice, the last voicemail he left for JAGGLA before his death. He revealed his definitive style in “The streets made me“, released at the end of 2020. There is a clear turning point in the production. The album encompasses all influences, oscillating from the jazzy-funk of Diamond and TUFF pt 2 to R&B samples, notably taken from Ruff Endz and Kim Waters on 一途 (Ichizu). In Japanese, Ichizu means that one is steadfast in their beliefs, pursuing their path with conviction until one reaches their goal. In this track, JAGGLA professes his love for hip-hop and recounts his beginnings in Amemura. Sometimes tinged with Lo-Fi influences, as on Favorite Place, only to darken on more underground notes like 圧倒的 (Attoteki) or 4.21. He reveals a Laid-back West Coast of the 90s touch on Can’t sleep hustler, featuring 阿修羅MIC (Ashura MIC). JAGGLA plays with different styles without ever defining himself. He touches on all atmospheres and offers a rich range of rap references with 90s colors—a treat for discerning ears. With a hoarse flow, he tells his life story in the dormitory neighborhoods of his hometown Takatsuki. He reveals himself on Favorite Place, recounting his family, childhood in poverty, and early delinquent years. He concludes that he wouldn’t trade these places for anything and always comes back to draw strength from them because one never forgets where they come from. It’s a love letter to his neighborhood.
Since 2018, he has founded the group Japanese Magenese (ジャパニーズマゲニーズ) with Kyoto-based rapper 孫GONG (Son Gong). Inseparable since then, they have released all their tracks and albums through this formation. Under the collective, we find the ways “2021” and “NAMBA“, both featuring singer CHOUJI, released in 2022, along with the very festive “最後の一本” (Saigo no ippon) featuring J.REXXX. In 2023, we find the darker “糸” (Ito), on which the two rappers, 邦KUNI and ジェロニモR.E (Jeronimo), are featured on a production by FEZBEATZ. JAGGLA is considered the worthy heir to the great names of Kansai. He is now mentioned in the same breath as SHINGO☆西成 (Shingo Nishinari) and ANARCHY. He has a unique and easily recognizable voice in the Japanese rap scene. You can identify him from the first rhymes. His flow is determined and surgical, yet effortless. He’s one of those rappers who naturally flows over the beats. There’s no dissonance; he rides you through his local Kansai in cadence and dialect. He is the pure product of his region: passionate and proud to be from Osaka, and he tells his story with the formidable humor of his peers.
SHINGO☆Nishinari (SHINGO☆西成), whose real name is Shingo Ikegami, was born on May 9, 1972, in Kyoto but has represented the Nishinari-Ku district in Osaka since childhood, when he moved there. That’s where he got his stage name from. Nishinari is a district in western Osaka with one of the highest densities of homeless people in Japan and is declared the poorest district in the country. He came to music a little later, in his thirties. Before that, he made a living working in a nursing home. In 1995, he began volunteering during the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake. SHINGO☆Nishinari is the pure symbol of the social struggle that gave birth to Hip Hop culture. Raised on karaoke in the neighborhood, he understood from a young age that music soothes the soul.
In 2005, he launched his independent career with the song “It’s a Song from the Ghetto” and signed a contract with Libra Record in 2006. His first mini-album was released under “Welcome to Ghetto” with jazzy and old-school sounds. Witnessing the ravages of poverty and drugs in Nishinari, he wrote “Ill Nishinari Blues” in 2007 which caught the industry’s attention. A jazzy sound mixed with the Kansai dialect on a purely East Coast style beat. He takes you with him without conditions. Summarizing the career of this Kansai legend is not easy, as he is very productive. He has released seven and one mini albums in his long career, the latest in 2022 entitled “Independence Day“. The single of the same name was released last year and still showcases his power in highlighting the neighborhood and the most underprivileged. His deep voice leads us in a flawless flow through stories of the street. He knows how to use words to create a powerful and uplifting wave of energy.
In his songs, he reminds us of the slams of the 90s. We can find influences from artists such as Common, for example, on “Kiribana no issho“, released in 2014, or more recently on “To be with you” (2021). He never betrays himself and remains consistent in his style and message. More pacifist than his Kansai colleagues, he stands out for using rap in its purest tradition: to convey the message of the ghetto and the underprivileged in the face of social misery. He is equally capable of adapting to the various hip-hop trends by changing his beats with the times, as demonstrated perfectly by his excellent “Shokunin” (Artisans), released in 2021, in which he defends workers and working conditions in Japan. We also remember “893” (2021), on which he showcases his outstanding lyricism. He tells stories of stolen and broken lives that he has seen passing before his eyes over the years. He works on his beats to highlight the tradition of a Japan losing its values. A perfect example is the song “Ushiro kiitsuke ya” (2022) featuring Red Eye, on which he uses a koto (a plucked stringed instrument used in traditional Japanese music) possessed by the rhythm.
Since its inception, all of SHINGO☆Nishinari’s actions have been focused on the neighborhood. He has never stopped advocating for it. Every year, he organizes concerts in Sankaku Park (known for its large homeless population) to raise funds and collect rice to feed Nishinari. He also has a YouTube channel, SHINGO★Nishinari no Shiran Kedo, where he documents the life of the Nishinari neighborhood with great humanity. After a long career, this rapper has stood out for the authenticity of his approach, which permeates his lyrics. His rap in Kansai-ben (a dialect of the Kansai region) is bold, brutal, and authentic. He goes to battle with each of his punchlines.
Ashura MIC, known as Ken Sakaguchi, was born in Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture, on May 17, 1986. “阿修羅” (read as Ashura) is a Buddhist god who symbolizes evil and conflict in India and Hinduism. His specialty is hardcore rap, and he has been active as a rapper in the Kansai region since the age of 19, performing in battles throughout the area as a member of CONCORD FAMILY. However, he remained inactive for nearly five years due to repeated arrests. In 2015, he re-emerged by collaborating with Tornado Records 竜巻一家 (“Tatsumaki Ikka” in Japanese), particularly with JAGGLA, with whom he released several features.
Ashura MIC is a unique and versatile rapper from a very religious family. His uncle is a priest and director of Kwansei Gakuin University. He began his studies in economics in a strict environment while also practicing Kendo. This duality is constantly reflected in his style. He is both a preacher and a street thug, using his extensive knowledge to tell stories of the streets. One notable fact about him is that he suffers from a disease called Moya Moya disease (モヤモヤ病), which results in a lack of blood flow to the brain. This often results in temporary paralysis and speech difficulties and is only found among the Japanese population.
Since his return to the forefront of the rap scene, he has not slowed down, collaborating with various artists such as RYKEYDADDYDIRTY, BADSAIKUSH, and Namedaruma (舐達麻) on tracks such as “Choice one” and “365DAYS“. He willingly collaborates with his peers and can be found on DJ BULLSET’s impeccable “PACK” (2020) featuring JIN DOGG and DOGMA, as well as Japanese Magenese’s “BLUE BERRY“(2021). In 2016, he finally released his first EP, “Chain Gang“. Ashura MIC tells stories one song at a time, surrounded by the Kansai region’s most talented producers and DJs. His beats are influenced by funk and laid-back vibes on tracks like “The Movie” (prod. DJ Honda), released in 2023, on which he features NAMEDARUMA (舐達麻), Japanese Magenese, Bic, and LISKY.S in the music video, accompanying him after his operation on his head related to his disease. He also switches to the Harlem style of the 2000s with productions by The Diplomats and The Heatmakerz on “High Life” (2021) produced by FEZBEATZ, who often collaborates with Japanese Magenese. The same product can be found on “言魂” (kotodama, the soul of words in Japanese) featuring 孫GONG & 漢 a.k.a GAMI (prod. GREEN ASSASSIN DOLLAR & FEZBEATZ), released in 2022, and is among the best tracks he has released. However, it is in “The Men” (2020), produced by DJ Honda, that he displays his exaggerated masculinity. Like a preacher worthy of his lineage, he envelops you in stories while moralizing. This is the eternal duality this rapper will face in life and his style.