Friday, June 16, 2006

japan's reggae self image

There's a social network site here called MIXI, lots of reggae related interest groups on it. Mostly dancehall cuz thats what all the youth are into now. Really they mostly see it as sort of an extention of hip hop. You can buy books and magazines to tell you how to dress and what the words in the songs mean. We actually have several monthly magazines and free papers covering reggae of all types and a good selection of record stores in the major cities. There are Japanese sound systems and deejays a plenty. The boys all try their best to look really hard. The girls are all interested in the latest fashions and dances and avidly buy up DVDs which will teach them to dance reggae.

Anyways... getting back to MIXI, theres a thread in a group called "reggae" which is roughly titled "what is japanese reggae". The original poster was interested in peoples ideas about "battymen" (rendered in katakana (there is no commonly used kanji to mean homosexual, even "homo" the common word is written in katakana. They just cant seem to admit that it exists here)) and if people think that its all about love and irie and rasta. There have been a few hundred responses. Most people seemed to come down on the side that japanese reggae is all about love and irie, reggae is pretty much the same as hip hop, and the few people that voiced an opinion about battymen seemed to be evenly split on whether they should be killed or not. Some people agreed that its great music for sex and everyone agreed that the girls look pretty. A very few voices said that reggae here was nothing more than monkey see monkey do. They were mostly ignored.

In a certain sense, perhaps a musical sense, reggae made here is every bit as valid as that made in the US or Germany or anywhere else where its made almost entirely by non Jamaicans. There are certain parallels, the average person is completely politically disinfranchised and there doesnt seem to be much in the way of an ownership culture of beats/melodies/riddims. And after all a few years ago a Japanese woman actually won the title of "Dancehall Queen" for her performance in Jamaica. I'd say it ends near there though since pretty much .000001% of the fans here have ever known anything like depradation much less poverty, but that can probably be said of the US, Germany, etc as well. The whole question of how "real" any imported culture here is far bigger than I.

My only question in the thread was does japanese reggae mean reagge made by japanese people or reggae made in japan. Never got a clear answer on that but I bet I can count the number of gaijin here making reggae on one hand.


Post a Comment

<< Home