Meet DJ Baku, the Lil Wayne of Tokyo. Baku has been gaining momentum on the Tokyo music scene under the influence of hip-hop heavy weight DJ Krush since the early 90s. He has been crafting his experimental sound under the care of Krush for a few years and seems to have exploded on to the music scene as from nowhere. In the same vein as Weezy, Baku moved a raw talent to being hailed as “The next big thing” and he is not about to disappoint.
Baku has long been creating a buzz and is slowly becoming a dominant figure on the horizon of the Tokyo music scene. His passion for scratching began after he saw the 1992 film Juice starring Tupac and Omar Epps. The film prompted him to test out his skills at the turntable at the age of sixteen and began deejaying. Taking his musical career to the next step he formed a group Hannaya with fellow MCs Yoshi and Romi. The group’s career was short lived and Baku headed back to the title of DJ.
For a few years Baku tried to gain recognition through gigs and DJ battles but more often then not found himself turned down being told his scratching style was too harsh. After struggling with his unappreciated style, Baku decided to push his sound into the world via mix-tapes. Baku promoted his talent through various mix-tapes and managed to scrounge up some fans and respect.
To further promote his mix-tapes, Baku set up his own record label with his friends and fellow musicians, Ske and Tatuski. The label entitled Dis-Defense Disc (maybe a jab at all those unbelievers and a promise for struggling artists?) allowed him to promote his own work. The trio opened the label with the tape Kaikoo With Scratch. The release of the record shot DJ Baku into the music scene. He had had a previous following, but this tape exposed his talent to the masses in a more attainable way and grabbed him some attention.
Since the release of Kaikoo, Baku went on to release a documentary under the same title, which exposed underground Tokyo hip-hop and shedded light on some drastically overlooked talent. Numerous hip-hop events have been organized under the “Kaikoo” name with the help of Baku to support and reveal raw talent lurking on the outskirts of hip-hop’s VIP arena.
Baku moved on to release two full records, Spin Heddz in 2006 followed up by his sophomore effort DHARMA DANCE in April of 2008. Both albums were incredibly well received by fans, the public and critics. Baku’s sound has been described as boundary-breaking and genre-defying. Whatever label you may choose to brand his sound with it will likely only touch upon one facet of his exceedingly diverse sound.
Baku’s instrumental basis is exceedingly similar to that of Girl Talk’s. Girl Talk is a mash-up heavy weight often sampling around 20 songs and cramming them into one seamless, flowing track. While Girl Talk has mastered this skill with prerecorded tracks, Baku packs the same musical punch but with an original recording. He pulls out all the stops, combining everything from metal-esque guitar riffs and Irish rock band worthy scream samples to thuggish bass beats and 80s dance electronic accents. Baku has a skilled hand at flawlessly blending unimaginable combinations of sounds together to produce a sound sure to leave an impact.
Some of his most impressive tracks include “Vandalism” which takes sounds from everyday life like footsteps, city noise, crickets and works them into a melody that includes a heavy bass beat with a sinister sounding back drop rhythm. The end result is highly effective in the effect of suspense. Your ears are focused, as is your whole mind, wondering and waiting for what will happen next.
“Cannibal-Mix” off of Baku’s latest album is highly impressive and sure to leave your hair raised, and not simply due to it’s skilled combination of unexpected sounds. The song is straight out of a class-A horror flick, better yet it is one onto its own. It opens with gasping breaths and moans with a heavy, ominous bass beat that has you turning your head to look behind you. The track functions as a suspenseful, horror film from the menacing title and bass-line to the breathing and agitated guitar. It’s sure to leave you more then a little on edge, illustrating Baku’s undisputed skill.
Other tracks like “Spin Street” and “Akbah Attack” function as a soundtrack for abstract art; they are all over the place, calm one minute and frantic the next. “Akbah Attack” becomes a musical overdose for your ears. The are so many stimulating noises that you can’t possibly process it all. You simply need to let it consume you.
DJ Baku had to fight an upward battle to get his talent to the masses, but is now being hailed as the next DJ Krush: one of the most influential hip-hop masters in the game. Critics are claiming he’s producing one of the most diverse and modern sounds and one listen to a single track will prove that is no lie. Baku has a skill rivaled only by his mentors Krush and DJ Shadow, and like these prevailing figures he will likely move on to a place of influence. Until then, he’s pumping out some of the sickest sound combinations to hit the airwaves in a while.