Hip-hop, especially of the domestic variety, is huge in Yokohama. In fact, it’s pretty difficult to avoid, blaring from the windows of newly pimped-out cars, or from the beatboxes of teenagers in over-sized sportswear break-dancing with their reflections in shop windows. J-Hop (or Nip-Hop) is the most happening scene right now. The most popular venue is the evergreen “Yokohama Bay Hall”, the place to be for fans of the amusingly-named local scenesters such as Butcher, Rude Bwoy Face, H-Man, and Moomin.
In Bayhall, you can marvel at Japan’s uninhibited hip-hop fashion at it’s most shameless. Expect lots of girls in flat-caps and terry-towelling jumpsuits, and boys in back-to-front baseball-caps, super-sized jeans and absurdly voluminous T-shirts (thanks to these guys I can buy clothes which actually fit in Japan.) A lack of restraint, and the absence of vocal “player-haters” in Japan has led to a flamboyant street-style of it’s own. It’s OTT and old-skool, and Public Enemy’s Flavor Flav, not previously respected for his sartorial taste, seems to be the style-guru of choice.
There’s an almost entirely Japanese crowd in Bayhall, but it’s a good-natured, friendly scene, despite the moody gangster affectations. Although the rappers have copied the posturing and delivery wholesale from their US counterparts, the gangster ethic has been lost in translation. Most of the lyrics are about love and life-affirmation. For example, one popular local act is called “Murder One”, but they’re more likely to be found in Tokyo Disneyland than in court for a homicide trial. I bet they don’t even litter. Real Japanese gangsters have curly perms and listen to enka.
3-4-17 Shin-Yamashita, Naka-Ku, Yokohama-Shi 231-0801