Hip-Hop in Japan and Cultural Globalization

Subject: Culture
Pages: 4
Words: 877
Reading time:
4 min
Study level: College


Hip-hop revolution in Japan gave the youths an opportunity to express themselves, and develop their skills. This resulted in the commercialization of music with many artists and fans from diverse backgrounds joining the industry. Gemba, which is a Japanese name for a hip-hop scene consists of the fans and the artists. It has provided an opportunity for the Japanese to socialize and network.

This culture has led to globalization and is used by the Japanese youth to create an international community. Localization of culture goes hand in hand with global interconnections and should be used among other global tools like media (Condry, 2006). This article will discuss the various debates that came as a result of the popularization of hip-hop in Japan.

The debate

Hip-hop events have been used to enlighten individuals on how to be responsible citizens. For instance, during these events, vendors can sell snacks and heck a living out of this. Environmentalists also take the opportunity to educate the youths on atomic energy and about beers. They also educate them on the proper disposal of cigarettes and other waste, encouraging recycling as well. In as much as these events seemed to encourage youths to engage in alcohol and other inappropriate activities, they provide a forum for them to learn social responsibility.

Moreover, the youths also got a chance to express their views about the government and their expectations. For example, the fans joined in when the emcees performed songs that criticized the government. This gave them an opportunity to address the government indirectly, the music is a form of communication. This has been met with the objection as it portrays a form of deviance for the youths who challenge the government to improve its governance (Condry, 2006).

Japanese hip-hop is seen as a threat to globalization especially on occasions in which the artists attack the west. Songs indicating that the two regions could be opposing, for instance, the song in which an artist boasts that the country has taken over the drug trade from Los Angeles creates tension between the two nations. On other occasions, the artist questions American dominance and jokes that he does not know a single English word.

This brings about a rift that may discourage globalization. However, it has been argued that this is not the case. The hip-hop artists in Japan have simply focused on a diverse range of subjects to promote the county’s culture. The artists draw selective audiences based on their themes, which mostly revolve around aesthetics and politics. The hip-hop revolution is all about Japanese culture. The fans segregate themselves according to the artist that they prefer. Such competitiveness promotes diversity, creativity, and innovation of hip hop music (Condry, 2006).

Initially, hip-hop was viewed as fashion-oriented, and many people thought that this culture would die, but this has not happened. It has become more prominent especially because of living performances, radios, magazines, and televisions. While other symbols of cultural globalization use multinational corporations to make them popular, hip-hop has drawn its attention from using their language to working with peer groups for different youth generations.

Unlike multinational corporations, hip-hop represents a less rigid form of globalization since hip-hop is all about social networking. It is controlled by the fans and the artists unlike the formal experience created by multinational corporations and controlled by the producers. This is a sign that hip-hop in Japan is self-reliant and fears that this culture will die are minimized (Condry, 2006).

Hip-hop critics were fast to brand this form of music as inappropriate to Japan and argued that it was simply commercialized, and lacked authenticity. However, this is not the case because the majority of the artists honed their styles in underground clubs. They built their music through the groupings defined by the taste of the audience. They represent the bigger fraction of the artists, fans, and promoters. Very few of them worked for leading labels. Music has also been used to challenge the hybridism that has developed in the Japanese culture. In the song, The Adventures of Kohei Japan, the musician undermines stereotypes by stating that being Japan is not defined by just eating rice and dumplings.

The musician illustrates that identity, history, and language cannot be modified to become part of globalization but should be recognized as a path towards globalization. Hip-hop promotes social relations and gives Japan a national identity. It is a forum for expression although the competition exhibited by the artists brings about dynamism and contradiction (Condry, 2006).


The main issues arising as a result of hip-hop diversity are globalization and popular culture. Artists represent the views of their audiences and express their concerns about the country. Many artists address these issues as a way of communicating with the authorities. However, these clubbing sessions give the Japanese an opportunity to network between fans, artists, organizers, and even the producers. Entrepreneurs are also present to share ideas as they mix work with pleasure.

This creates a popular culture in which performances are done to promote culture, socialize, communicate, and give a sense of belonging. The notion that Japanese hip-hop affects globalization negatively is misguided. On the contrary, it has brought about networking and the people participating in these events share power and promote global interconnectedness.


Condry, I. (2006). Hip-hop Japan: Rap and the paths of cultural globalization. Durham, NC. Duke Univ. Press.