Considering the possibility of this being a heated debate, I decided to place it in the Debate section rather than the Sensory Pleasures section...
Starting with a brief history:
Hip-hop and rap was imported over to Japan after the movie "Wild Style" came out in 1983, and Japanese people quickly jumped on breakdancing and bboying as well as hip-hop fashion as "kakkoi" and "yabai". In Yoyogi Park, Djs such as DJ Krush sprung to accomodate the sudden crowd of breakdancers who showed up there to practice and hold competitions. Back then the Japanese only were concerned with the imagery from "Wild Style," since they gave the Japanese language up as being unfit for rapping.
During this time American critiqued the Japanese as just making hip-hop a "trend" to follow. They pointed out the extreme in the Japanese hip-hop fan scale, although the numbers were few: Blackfaces who tanned or painted their skin black and fixed their hair in afros and dreadlocks. Americans said the Japanese had no right to pretend to Black when they do not give a damn about Black culture and their struggles and history. Blackfaces countered saying that coloring their skin black was their way of showing respect for Black culture.
Fast forwarding to when hip-hop was no longer a trend, but a mainstay in Japanese music and culture (however small the scene is); some Japanese rappers have developed their own Japanese style and flow of rhymes. They've delevoped clothing lines and brand names that the most famous American hip-hop artists jump on: Bape, Ice Creams. Pharrell and the Teriyaki Boyz are just one of the many collaborations between American and Japanese hip-hop artists.
But can they still be considered authentic musicians when the basis for all of their music is whatever comes out in America? Is it okay that hip-hop fans in Japan don't know anything about the American hip-hop legends that spawned the genre? Is it okay that alot of Japanese rappers still either copy the American gangsta style with their guns and ghettos, when Japan has no ghetto? Or that the others, knowing not to rap about nonexistant ghettos, instead spit rhymes about love, their cellphones, and other stupid crap; should they be dismissing their society as problem-less since they don't share the same issues of poverty and violence that America has?
Lastly, keep in mind that there are rappers who strive to develop their own unique style in order to differentiate themselves from America. But there are always rappers who don gangster clothes and copy the American beats and rhymes. If you ask the average Japanese person with no history of hip-hop fandom, they will point out the latter as being more authentic, because it sounds closer to American music. Are they right?
I threw alot at you, but go ahead and have fun debating if you have free time on your hands
though i honestly don't like j-rap and k-rap in particular because they're manufactured.
(Personally I wish they would all, no matter the country, take elocution lessons.)
And I understand your point, and realize I failed to specify that sentence. When I said "whatever comes out in America" I referred to whatever is popular in America at the time. But rapping is a bit different from piano music; where anyone, regardless of culture or language, can listen to it because non-vocalized music in itself is universal. But to understand the lyrical content of a song, particularly one being spitted out at a fast pace like rap lyrics, takes an understanding of the language, including its slang, as well as the meaning behind the song.
E.g. alot of Japanese rappers say their influences include Public Enemy. Public Enemy's most popular song, "Fight the Power," is extremely racially charged and political. How in the world would Japanese people in the 90's be able to understand the meaning behind the song, at a time when Wikipedia was unheard of? They couldn't look up ideas offered in the song such as "The Elvis Effect." Even though they didn't fully understand anything, but the whole country moved to base a whole hip-hop trend off of music like that.
To describe my issue of authenticity, I could compare hip-hop (ambassador of African American culture to Japan) to anime (one of the main ambassadors of Japanese culture to America). Just as Americans look down on Japanese hip-hop and their fans, people living in Japan (other than the businesses who only want to sell) may look down on Americans for consuming anime, then they go around in America declaring themselves to be otaku and knowledgable of Japan. Can they be considered truly "otaku" (in the American sense; just an anime fan) and if they are consuming something that often misrepresents Japan when read in the wrong way, or when they watch anime in English dub? Do they have to read up a bit on Japanese culture and watch anime in the original Japanese in order to be an authentic, "true" fan?
Similarily, can a young man declare himself as gay if he consumes yaoi, manga and anime written by women for women and completely unrepresentative of actual gay culture in Japan? Are the manga-ka themselves exposed to actual gay people?
Well I see where you are coming from. A lot of the japanese style does not really know about the African American culture, and the way of things. There are some J-rappers that can relate to it, make their own music with their own style..While others imitate. I also agree that many Japanese people do not know the struggle, but some are learning..some..Few of them are actually into the culture of hip hop and breakdancing..You can tell by how much heart they put into it..while others..well..not so much..Anywho, some are found of the culture..Just like we are found of theirs =)
Living life on your own..Isn't always that easy..-Vincent
All this 'real hip-hop' talk is nonsense, for several reasons:
-Music is just art.
-Since it's art, there is no central value to it. Meaning, you can give whatever reason to support why it's not authentic; It is still artistry, and thus, authentic.
-Hip-Hop, is not music. It's a lifestyle. If they're living it, it doesn't matter why; Just as long as they are.