The hip-hop scene in Japan is quite different in comparison to that of the U.S. However, there are some bands that tend to follow the big-bass-beat and fast lyrical pace of American hip-hop. The Tokyo based group Teriyaki Boyz are a mash-up of American and Japanese hip-hop. They can spit out rhymes with impressive speed over serious bass beats while throwing in some traditional Japanese sounds.
Teriyaki Boyz is an assortment of four MCs and one DJ from other groups who united under member Nigo. Nigo, who is the founder of A Bathing Ape, is the sole DJ for the group. Ryo-A and Ilmari are both MC’s previously from Japan hip-hop group Rip Slyme. The other two MCs are Verbal, who is also in M-flo, and Wise who is from (B)ape Sounds.
The group dropped their debut Beef or Chicken in 2006. The album was a masterpiece in regards to big names in production and collaboration in the music industry. Adrock of the Beastie Boys, Mark Ronson and DJ Shadow were just a few of the big names to contribute to the production of the album.
The album reached number 4 on the Oricon charts with the help of its lead single “Heartbreaker” which was produced by electronic heavyweights Daft Punk. The single samples from their song “Human After All” and combines the famous electronic-dance style of Daft Punk with the Teriyaki Boyz fast paced and humorous rhyme style creating and instant crowd pleaser.
Even though Beef or Chicken had success in Japan it failed to carry over to the US. However the group found international success with their song “Tokyo Drift” which was featured in the soundtrack for the motion picture The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift.
The Teriyaki Boyz only continued to impress as they collaborated with hip-hop’s main players Kanye West and Pharrell. Their single “I Still Love H.E.R.” featuring Kanye West was released in 2007. The single combines the style of both artists. The beat is reminiscent of West’s “Touch the Sky” with its old-school sound while not straying far from the Teriyaki Boyz rapping style. It’s listen-worthy single between the styles of the Tokyo and American MCs. The signature style of Kanye brings the Teriyaki Boyz single to the next level.
The group also paired up with Pharrell and Busta Rhymes in their recent release “ZOCK ON!” This single is strong from the first beat. Pharrell’s influence is apparent in the N.E.R.D.-like instrumental music which mixes the familiar bass beats of US hip-hop and the slightly more traditional sounding and slightly off beat found in Tokyo hip-hop. Pharrell and Rhymes’ vocals compliment the Teriyaki Boyz sound. The end result is an upbeat song that is likely to transfer overseas and gain the Teriyaki Boyz more international fame.
As each single pops out of Tokyo, the Teriyaki Boyz are only increasing their game. Every production team-up and collaboration further propels their career and takes their sound to the next level. If they keep producing singles of this quality, further international fame is inevitable.