Dedicated, determined individuals are crucial to a new movement's success. The rise of hip-hop in Japan is no exception. The success of hip-hop in Tokyo is due in large part to talented, progressive artists like Tokyo hip-hop artist DJ Krush.
Hideaki Ishi, who goes by the name DJ Krush, is one of Tokyo's leading hip-hop artists and works internationally producing, remixing, and as a recording artist and DJ. He came out of the beginnings of the hip-hop scene in Yoyogi Park and was one of the first artists to form the foundations for present day hip-hop and is still one of the most influential artists in the game today.
Krush was born in 1962 in Tokyo and recognized his love for music at a young age. In high school he became involved in a gang and quickly became caught up in that world leaving his interest in music behind. While involved with the gang, Krush received a severed finger at his home. Upon learning it previously belonged to his close friend he left the gang and began to focus on school once more.
Krush picked up his pursuit of music after attending a screening of "Wild Style." The film was one of the first ever hip-hop motion pictures and it left an impact; it immediately inspired DJ Krush to enter the world of hip-hop. The next day he purchased a turntable, mixer and sampler and taught himself the art of mixing.
Krush began performing with other DJs in his group Krush Posse in 1987. He then jumped onto the main music scene by playing with live bands at venues in 1992. He gained a reputation from his live performances and slowly moved into the recording world with his first album Krush in 1994 becoming a pioneer of hip-hop in the Tokyo music scene. Since his first album, Krush has released a total of 11 albums with the most recent being OuMuPo 6 in 2007.
What makes Krush such a significant figure in the hip-hop scene in Tokyo is his approach and handling of the music. He shows an intense focus on the instrumental portion of each track. The majority of his songs are entirely instrumental forcing attention to the flow and beat of the music. The solely instrumental songs are nothing like popular hip-hop in the U.S.A., which draws from booming bass and electronic beats. Krush instead focuses on the art of scratching and simpler beats leaving the overbearing bass and synthesized tones behind. He leaves us with a simple yet attention-grabbing sound that combines the classical sounds of Miles Davis and those of a skilled DJ through subtle beats with light scratching.
Another remarkable characteristic of DJ Krush is that he does not speak on his tracks choosing instead to feature other artists. The artists vary from strong, brash rap to subtle, airy song and he often combines both. Each time Krush customizes the beat of the song to compliment the voice.
His technique and talent continues to impress with each album. Krush founded the hip-hop movement within Tokyo and continues set the standard for incoming artists to the scene.