While the Ura-Harajuku streetwear/hip-hop scene is often viewed as a separate entity to Shibuya-kei, the two scenes had a symbiotic relationship that saw quite a bit of crossover – both in terms of shared musical influences and in more concrete terms, as labels like NIGO® and James Lavelle’s Ape Sounds would indiscriminately cross-pollinate between the two.
Famed Japanese rapper/DJ Kan Takagi, while definitely on the Ura-Hara (as it is affectionately referred to) side of that blurry divide, will often take chances to share his influences with the world on his blog, looking today at the African percussion of Burundi Steiphenson Black’s “Burundi Drum” and some famous references to it throughout Western musical history. The world-music sounds featured in the post provide a portrait of how the Shibuya-kei aesthetic had plenty of precedent in the world of Western music, the sound of that Shibuya-kei (and, by extension, Ura-Hara) scene being likened to that of an incredibly talented DJ, selecting the best parts of different styles and discarding the ephemera. No coincidence that actual DJs (such as Towa Tei and, of course, Takagi himself) were vital to the scene, as the entire aesthetic is rooted in the arts of sampling and remixing. And the influence of Burundi Drum carries on, as Takagi’s one-time labelmates OOIOO can attest: