Hello everyone. It’s time for the update, on the first day of the month as I had promised. Tomorrow, 5/2 is the tenth anniversary live of Tha Blue Herb since they first played in Tokyo. FESN made their opening image, and we’ll be filming their performance. Yeah, as usual… (Will there be a day when I can watch them perform normally, not through a lens?)

Commemorating their tenth anniversary, I’m going to look back and write about them and the Japanese Hip-Hop ten years ago. (I’m not talking about skating this time)

It was probably January or February of 1999 when I first heard Tha Blue Herb. I was on a tour filming for my skate video. A sound creator group that I met in Iwaki, Rhythm Troops, they made me listen to Tha Blue Herb. Rhythm Troops knew the way to catch message of artists all over Japan. Rhythm Troops and Tha Blue Herb both shared the same quality―they both were looking at the wide world.

I was at Rhythm Troops’ home base all relaxed, and there, I heard “Tha Blue Herb/Still Stilling Dreaming” for the first time. That was the beginning of this whole thing.

Let’s look back a little more to the past. It was around 1995. It was good old days for us skaters and also for Hip-Hop. The skate videos from the US and the music used in them were fresher to me back then. After the Wu-Tang released their debut album, almost everybody used Wu-Tang for their skate videos. Same here, I used Mobb Deep and Real Live for my first video. Hip-Hop was so hot back then, with its fashion and everything. Japanese rap was becoming the hot thing and I was really into Japanese rap than English rap since I could understand the message. There was a huge Hip-Hop event called Sampin Camp at Hibiya and I bought an advance ticket and went to see the show. I was stoked to see NIPPS and Rhino. Shakazombie’s stage was the most stable too. But before that, I remember some kind of fake Mary J Blige was on stage and we all went out for a fresh air…. Well, what I want to say is, Japanese Hip-Hop/rap was the hottest thing for us.

But as the time passed, things started to change. I felt that Japanese rap/Hip-Hop was becoming wack. It was around the time when Hip-Hop became mainstream in the US. The US artists started to use tons of money for their music videos, and I started to see a lot of US rappers with a lot of bitches. Hip-Hop music itself was changing too; it was an evolution of Hip-Hop. The US Hip-Hop became a huge business, so I think the change was a natural thing. The problem is, Japanese Hip-Hop and rappers didn’t go through all the phase that the US Hip-Hop went through; they were just imitating and copying as a fad, without question. The difference between the US Hip-Hop and Japanese Hip-Hop business back then was so big, and I think it will stay that way. This is what it’s like in Japan– NY rappers wear this and that, and they rap like this and that… You know what’s going to happen? Japanese rappers do the same thing because that’s the trend. They’re not even young any more and still followers… As I lost interest in Hip-Hip itself and started to listen to other music, rap was just a disturbing noise. I was especially rejecting Japanese rap that was following the US style. I thought I would never have faith in Japanese rap again back then.

I met Rhythm Troops and Tha Blue Herb when I had lost faith in Japanese rap.

That day, I was at a club in Iwaki called WALL when I first heard their music. Their words shattered my beliefs and sense of values. I think almost all the people who heard their music thought, “Are they singing talking me?” And the beats support and shed light to the strong lyrics for the years to come. Since that day, I’m always waiting for Tha Blue Herb’s new joint. On 5/2 1999, I bought a ticket, opened the door and entered Roppongi Core with a video camera in my hand. Exactly ten years later, I’m still holding a video camera to document them.

I think the motivation of documenting them for ten years come from the desire to extent the one music that I love and believe in to as many people as I can.

The needle that was dropped on the record that day is still strong and straight. The vinyl is still spinning in my head.

Indeed, that was the beginning of this whole thing.

With the live and everything, this month will sure be a busy one. Operating LIBE is super busy as well that I don’t even have time to think. I’d love to skate more, but just recently, I have started filming for the next skate video. The first shooting took so long and it made me re-realize that capturing three seconds of footage takes a large amount of time and effort. A journey has begun to go beyond the last video. Record of 250,000 hits on YouTube is on my side and I’m going to try again. The world is big and it motivates me. There’s no turning back now. So, Gou Miyagi, land that trick next time, alright? OK, I’ll see you all next month!

09.05.01
FESN director, Takahiro Morita