Corey Penn & The Japanese Contingent
June 8, 2008, 4:19 pm
Filed under: Miscellaneous

Nujabes – ‘Sky Is Falling’ ft. C.L. Smooth 
taken from Hyde Out Productions Second Collection (Hyde Out, 2007)

Shin-Ski of Martiangang – ‘I Can’t Help It (Can’t Stop Me Remix)’ ft. C.L.Smooth
taken from Re-Shinstruction (Soul Believer/Media Factory Japan, 2008)

DJ Krush – ‘Only The Strong Survive’ ft. C.L. Smooth 
taken from Meiso (Mo Wax/ffrr, 1995)

Although I like the vast majority of hip hop material that comes out of Japan, I can’t say that I’m particularly up on it. Beyond the obvious big hitters like Krush and DJ Honda I know that there are sure to be a hell of a lot more artists out there that are more than worthy of my attention, but as yet I just haven’t explored this particular branch of the genre in much depth. However, things may be about to change having stumbled upon Nujabes’ exceptional ‘Sky Is Falling’ via the Pete Rock forum a couple of days ago, and thanks to Jaz I got my hands on another Japanese-produced cut with the Mecca Don tearing it up. It also reminded me of a third Japanese producer/C.L. Smooth joint from Krush’s excellent Meiso, so it made sense to throw ‘em up together and see where people’s preferences lie; I am yet to determine my personal favourite.

The Nujabes’ cut is taken from Hyde Out Recordings second compilation of songs released by the label, run by the man himself. The beat here is really something quite special, with chunky drums underpinning a beautifully spacious horn loop and plenty of subtle transitions thrown into the mix to keep things interesting. It was my manChris Read who suggested that perhaps the vocals are a little lost in the mix, but this is a small gripe for an otherwise brilliantly executed jam. Shin-Ski’s ‘I Can’t Help It’ is just as dope and is taken from his second LP, a compilation of remixes of his own work. C.L.’s flow sits a little better over this beat, mellow and restrained enough to let the vocals shine a little more. Finally, Krush’s ‘Only The Strong Survive’ goes down as classic material in my book, with oriental nuances working cohesively with hard-hitting boom bap aesthetics to create a banger that sounds as good now as it did all the way back in 1995.

Recommendations for other Japanese material gratefully received. Which cut would you plump for?

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