RAPThomas KruseKohh, Rap, Japanese

Kohh

RAPThomas KruseKohh, Rap, Japanese
Kohh

잊지 , 잊지 , 우리가 이찌방(一番
It G Ma, It G Ma, Uri ga Ichiban.
Don't forget, don't forget that we are NUMBER ONE.

Kohh is the dark side of Tokyo you don’t see.  He is the statistic that Japanese politicians want to hide. His songs deal with themes of poverty, suffering, and addiction – not surprising when you hear his background.  He was born to a Korean father and a Japanese mother.  His father killed himself by jumping from their Tokyo apartment while high.  He watched his mother become addicted to meth when he was a young boy, saying that “when I was little, my mom was hardly ever home… she just doesn’t feel like a mom to me.”  In the words of Dexter Thomas, Cornell Ph.D. specializing in Japanese Rap (awesome), "He saw a lot of drug use; he’s seen killings, a lot of violence. It’s a world that exists in Japan but isn’t really seen in the mainstream at all.”  Listening to Kohh takes you past the Tokyo you are used to seeing in stereotyped, mainstream images.  In his own words, “I am surrounded by guys who stab people or are drug addicts. But we chose not to follow that path, and decided to rap instead.”  If real talk exists in Japan, this is it.

Kohh’s musical career started as part of the Riverside Mobb, named after the Sumida River which splits Kita and Uji wards, the location of many of Tokyo’s housing projects.  His younger brother, lil’ Kohh, broke out with a viral youtube video “Young Forever” when he was in the sixth grade.  Once Kohh got together with music producer 318, the rest was history.  As Kohh says, “without 318, there would be no Kohh.”  They grew up within walking distance of each other.  318 describes the neighborhood as “there are a lot of people that commit suicide here, and it’s filled with delinquents and poor people.  But so what?  We don’t want to glamorize it.  That’s just the way it is.”  They shared the same struggle, which allowed them to connect and make music.  Nowadays, 318 manages a dozen local artists, many of whom have the same struggles as Kohh.  As Kohh explains in his documentary biography, “The Japanese hip-hop scene is really small.  In Japan, for some reason hop hop hasn’t caught on, it isn’t shown on television.  I want to be the one who spreads it.”  For Kohh and his friends who make rap music, it is an uphill battle to gain mainstream acceptance in Japanese media.

Favorite 3 Songs

My favorite piece, 貧乏なんて気にしない (I don’t care if I’m poor) carries so much emotional depth between the melodic voice and hard-hitting beat, that you will forget he is rapping in Japanese.  This was his breakthrough single back in 2014, receiving millions of hits on Youtube and garnering Kohh an international following.  The lyrics talk about the pointless desire for material objects, as well as an exposition of a life growing up in poverty

His most popular breakthrough single is an insane collaboration It G Ma with fellow Japanese rapper Loota, and Korean trapstars Keith Ape, JAYALLDAY, and Okasian.

His sickest beat is on JUNJI TAKADA off his Yellowtape 2 mixtape.  Even the least open-minded hip-hop fans must admit, this song is phenomenal, even if the . 

"If you imagine what you want in life, it’ll happen.  People should just do whatever they want to do." -Kohh