Friday, January 30, 2009

My 1st visit to Japan

A Dream Not Deferred
FALL 2005

Written by RAVAGE aka MeccaGodZilla

I come from a kinda that faces more hurdles than long distance steeple chase runners. The span of 2004 to 2005 broiled incredible challenges for me. I am by no means wealthy and all my peers here know how bad we're struggling. My body and mind needed something drastically different. There are many days myself and many like me nightmarishly awaken to a "grimm" picture of poverty, discouragement and struggle. That being the ultimate fuel to subsist along with the help of Kwote Scriptures and Easy Escapes Travel (big up Michele), let's just say I found myself overseas in Nihon, known to the west as Japan, this past August 2005 for 7 days of "Some Kind Of Wonderful!"

My Day By Day associate, Divine Life (, an emcee and producer extraordinaire that now resides in Japan, was more than gracious enough to put me in touch with Japan's most incredible artists and personalities shortly after our quest from the airport on the bullet train to Shinagawa, where my hotel was. Yes, the bullet train is sickness. I noticed right away that the cats on the train taking tickets were dressed better then half the American airplane pilots. Those jobs are SERIOUS. One queen was on the train serving drinks and I got my first real good taste of how beautiful Japanese woman are. Immediately off the plane, the impact of being lost in translation was overwhelming and cleansing at the same time for everything was so foreign, the sounds were dissimilar; the language was so beautiful and the writing, all the celestial kanji characters. I had to force myself to confront.

One thing that was cool was that once I reached my destination in Shinagawa, American culture could still be seen all over! Many may not agree, but I was flattered to see the Japanese youth sporting braids, dreads, baggy clothes and tan skin. The youth there seemed to mix elements of American culture to create a new derivative of self expression. I still remember walking with Divine to make rounds in Shibuya, things there, in such a busy city, were so slow!! In NYC my pace is much quicker when I walk through, but in Shibuya and Shinagawa, things are just nice and easy, nice and slow. Very busy, but far from frantic. We frequently checked in with Monohon Recordings who showed nothing but love and gratitude. The gifts of music and t-shirts to me, being a new face and foreigner, were really dope and I give thanks!

When not chilling with Divine, I frequently communicated with fam back home notably MF GRIMM to strategize powerful moves. Since Japan is a day ahead of NYC I got to celebrate my birthday twice (August 13th). Once in Club Bed with Osamu, A.I., DJ Bunken and many other powerful artists and the very next day, early evening at a Monohon In store at HMV Japan, followed by Club Eggman and then with Large Professor at Club Duo.

Let's just say my birthday was 48 hours of madness. Let me rewind a little bit because I was overwhelmed. When me and Divine made our way through Shibuya, I was already at home to see that Shibuya's Cisco Records had a poster for a Large Pro in store a day before my birthday! So many lil surprises like had me beasting (the act of self generating your spirit in a super magnetic method to make things succumb to your will). Xtra P smashed the in store by the way!!!

Regarding Japanese food, it took me a few days to experience a traditional meal because there was just too much networking to do! One highlight was meeting up with an angelic school teacher and venturing to Tokyo Tower (Japan's rendition of the Eiffel Tower). There, we discussed much about life and ate a nice Japanese style meal. I had eel and somen noodles in a nice cool sauce with wasabi. That wasabi forced my face into a stinging frown as I had this feeling that I could truly breathe. Moderation people, moderation is key. My time with my lady friend at the tower was great!

I was lucky enough, through Divine to meet Hide, who's an incredibly talented producer that scores DVDs and was interested in recording with us. We tore up the studio and were treated hours later to another tradition Japanese meal of soft tofu, somen noodles, chicken, eggplant and cakes! S much food. That meal was the best I've had in a very long time. So big up Hide's mom for throwing it down in the kitchen. Much respect to both his parents and Bono (his dog, that was so well trained, he was chilling like another relative, very smart dog). Watching Berry Gordy's Last Dragon you damn right I, as a black man, know how to freak the chop sticks so each time I ate, I had to show the skills. Not like it's tough once you get the hang of it.

To rap this up quickly, because the entire experience is documented on video and should be out on DVD via Day By Day Entertainment late 2006, my hotel seemed like the perfect headquarters ala the "batcave." Yahoo cafe, 80 bowling lanes (no exaggeration), an aquarium, Imax theatre, a nice shopping mall, 24/7 cafe to eat what your stomach craves, subway right across the street, my room on the 37th floor with one wall being nothing but glass to overlook the entire city. The Divine gift of goen coins, the shock proof hotel which swayed with shockwaves from the earthquakes that week, the fresh air, the beautiful faces, smiles and shyness of many Japanese women, the cleanliness of the subway big up the Yomonote Line! And the courteous people who always (in my experience) said arigato gozaimasu! This trip was the soul reason I escaped the sometimes baneful pinch of NYC and ventured out. I didn't even mention how much love Xtra P got up in Club Duo, the production lessons I learned building with Divine, the curiosity and acceptance of the free CDs, Hasan Salaam and American Hunger Flyers!

I love Japan for showing the energy right back to me! Lastly, the skill level of the singers, the emcees, dancers, and producers is so by the book. The way the emcees rock the stage, all of them have dope stage shows even the ones that don't even have a big name. All the DJs are nasty. It's like everyone studied the American form of hip hop to a T! While there, I was like wow, so many Americans can learn from the youth who still know who D Nice and Large Pro are and still give respect and have knowledge of the legends that birthed this incredible lifestyle!

The PURPOSE of this trip to reiterate…:

This past summer I was at a point in my life where many of my responsibilities here in NYC have become extremely heavy and burdensome and I was tired of carrying them. I wanted to go somewhere where it was hard to see someone that looked like me, or spoke like me. I wanted to feel lost yet stand out at the same time. There is much about NYC that is hard to express in words but sometimes, your individuality is compromised here because of many preconceived notions people hold for you. If you dress this way, you must be that, if you wear that you must be this. Actually, every place on earth, most likely, is like that. BUT I felt Japan represented some similarities with me via hip hop, yet many differences culturally to fulfill my thirst for something brand new… It's ill because there's karaoke but no poetry open mic spots from what I know in Japan. Do y'all see what I mean???

You probably don't... haha...

If you can make it to Nihon with an open mind you will experience too much good to even document with words. I encourage everyone to jump in and be lost in translation like I am now. I may go back next month. Big Up Club Bed, Club Eggman, Northwest, 99 in Ikebukuro, Addy the Buffalo Soldier I met there, Monohon and GKM, Large Pro, MF GRIMM, Hikari Tachibana, Meiko, Divine Life, Gemba from DJ Honda's Team, Osamu, Maguma MC NOB and to all the spots and people in Japan, Tokyo, Shinagawa and Shibuya I may now have mentioned. I cannot dictate in words all that I saw. Just know out of the 7 days I was there, maybe 2 good nights of rest I had, so you know there's a good handful of stories!

P.S. For the people of color, I am gonna say this once. Life is too short. To grow, we gotta explore. Please don't be jealous of each other for trying to get out and learn more about the world. We gotta support each other and enhance our lives with what we've learned.

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