Afternoon Wake Up Call

For reasons that have deep intellectual roots (no, really) I spent some very loud times this week listening to live Japanese hip-hop. That left me in a position (once my hearing returned to ~70% of baseline) to react with honest curiosity when Cory Doctorow tweeted this vid:


Gotta say, I find the marriage of J-pop and metal to be oddly wonderful. YMMV.
More — the multiple layers of globalized culture visible in that vid make me want to William Gibson sitting next to me, telling me how it all came to be.*
Enough from me.  Propose your favorite culture/music/genre juxtapositions in the comments, or just treat this as another open thread.
*If you haven’t read Gibson, or not lately, do yourself a favor.  I’m rereading Zero History now, after crashing through Pattern Recognition and Spook Country over the last couple of weeks, and plan to cycle back to the Bridge trilogy pretty soon too. (Been a long time since I’ve looked at the books that put him on my map, the Sprawl trio, so I may go all the way back to Neuromancer et al. before I’m done.  In any event, if you ever need Virgil to lead you through the circles of contemporary culture, Gibson is your man.

86 replies
  1. 1
    Suffern ACE says:

    Are you going to change your nym to T Dragon? Oh wait. That’s Korean Hip Hop. I make that mistake all the time, and believe me, it comes up two to three times a day here at work.

  2. 2
    BGinCHI says:

    Just read Pattern Recognition this fall after a long hiatus from WG’s work. Terrific novel.

    Also, too, makes me want to listen to Shonen Knife.

  3. 3
    BGinCHI says:

    Should have added: if you are of a certain age, Neuromancer was a mind-blowing novel. I’m honestly afraid to re-read it. I fear it can’t have stood the test of time given all of the technological changes, but who knows.

    Gibson is a smart fucker.

  4. 4
    Big R says:

    I love Gibson, and make it a point to re-read the Bigend trilogy once a year. Pattern Recognition is very clearly him feeling his way into this world, especially by comparison to the other two, but Gibson feeling his way is sort of like other people’s magnum opus.

    And if you can manage to leave aside the glibertarian politics, Neal Stephenson feels very similar.

  5. 5
    NotMax says:

    You lost me at “hip-hop.”

    Diff’rent strokes and all that.

    (And if it is really set so loud that it affects your hearing, turn down the volume.) /nanny

  6. 6
    dm says:

    Been hanging out with Ian Condry, Tom?

  7. 7
    cleek says:

    for Japanese hip-hop, i’ve always been a fan of DJ Krush – but he’s a turntablist/producer and not a rapper so you never hear him say anything. so i guess it really doesn’t matter where he’s from.

  8. 8
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Well, I’d rather listen to Sirs Paul and Mick as they negotiate their walkers across the stage.

    So there’s that.

  9. 9
    Amir Khalid says:

    I have no Japanese. What (if anything) is the song about? And do share with us your deeply intellectual reasons for considering Japanese hip-hop.

    But it does make a nice segué from what I was just watching on YouTube: an open-air performance of Les Misérables from about a decade ago. Auf Deutsch, natürlich. Very nice too, except that Javert fluffs his lines in the Fantines Verhaftung number.

  10. 10
    ribber says:

    similar: Sabotage cover by Dempgumi:

  11. 11
    Elizabeth says:

    Gotta be “The Good, the Bad and the Weird” which is a South Korean Western. Your jaw will drop.

    Kurosawa adapted both ‘King Lear’ and ‘MacBeth’ in his films ‘Ran’ and ‘Throne of Blood’.

    Also Tampopo, the ‘Ramen Western’ where a drifter drives into town and helps to save a widow’s ramen business.
    So much more, but that’s what I think of first.

  12. 12
    catclub says:

    @Big R: I have read Spook Country within the last two months, but I had to go find a review to remember what it was about. I enjoyed it while reading it but it made no impression.

  13. 13
    scav says:

    @Amir Khalid: Well, I thought I heard something about chocolate, which would be wonderfully nonsensical esp as I also don’t speak Japanese. Like the skeletons.

    ETA, whew, it is there at the beginning, not something from the fast anime girls.

  14. 14
    Elizabeth says:

    @Suffern ACE: G-Dragon: Wow, fantastic baby!

  15. 15
    SatanicPanic says:

    @Amir Khalid: “Hurry up hurry up please give me chocolate just a little bit please”

    That’s the general idea.

  16. 16
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    The Celtic/hip- hop mix of Black 47 is pretty good.

    And to get all pretentious art douchy, the mix of minimalism and Tin Pan Alley that led to the Velvet Underground was pretty cool too.

  17. 17
    Roger That says:

    Japanese hip-hop
    I find most of it is terrible, but occasionally there are some gems – God, Inc – El Dorado Throw Down
    As for genre juxtapositions:
    -Petty Booka’s good, though they’re awfully twee. Their album covering Hawaiian classics (“Let’s Talk Dirty In Hawaiian”) is great but I can’t find the songs online, settle for their cover of Material Girl.
    -The Gourds got a lot of press for their cover of Gin & Juice but they had a bunch of other good stuff, especially their cover of Gangsta Lean. In a similar vein, Luther Wright & the Wrongs also do a country-western cover of the entire The Wall album that’s excellent.
    -The dad of one of the guys from Daft Punk put out a “Japanese” concept album in French, Le Monde Fabuleux Des Yamasuki back in the day. If you like the haunting kids chorus you might also like Les Poppys, though they were 70s evangelicals it still rocks.
    -If you like chiptunes at all (Nintendo bloop-bleep music) the 8-Bit Peoples compilation albums “the 8 Bits of Christmas” (xmas tunes) and Axel-F (all covers of Axel-F, ok that one gets old :) are pretty good.

    Lastly, the Snatch disco-funk version of “Another Brick in the Wall part 2″ is just nasty.

  18. 18
    SatanicPanic says:

    @scav: Ding ding! Actually knowing Japanese didn’t really help me understand this song so don’t feel left out.

  19. 19
    Betty Cracker says:

    I’m not even sure what hip hop is, and it’s not for lack of trying to find a serviceable definition. As soon as I’ve decided it’s all crap on the basis of the output of chart-topping hacks, I’ll hear something good that is also classified as hip hop, and I can no longer claim to dislike the genre.

    I write almost no genres off and can usually find something to like. However, I have heard that there is such a thing as “country rap,” and I think I’ll make an exception for that genre, sound unheard. I have never heard it and never want to.

  20. 20
    Tom Levenson says:

    @dm: Why, yes.

  21. 21
    The Snarxist Formerly Known as Kryptik says:

    Japanese Rock and Hip Hop tends to be fascinating in their own way even if you don’t understand the lyrics. If you’re looking for some stuff, this one from Rhymester and Super Butter Dog (a rock/funk band of sort) is pretty damn good. And as a bonus Super Butter Dog thing, Communication Breakdance is pretty damn infectious as well.

  22. 22
    Tom Levenson says:

    @Betty Cracker: OK. Now you’ve given me my next musical research task. Is there a single country rap song out there worth listening? Stay tuned.

  23. 23
    Cervantes says:

    @Tom Levenson:

    The multiple layers of globalized culture visible in that vid make me want to William Gibson sitting next to me, telling me how it all came to be.

    Henry Jenkins is visiting next week, isn’t he? You could ask him to reveal all.

  24. 24
    David Koch says:


    President to address nation on Putin’s mobilization on Ukraine.

    MSNBC is saying Putin has sent commandos to seize Ukrainian air strips.

  25. 25
    jl says:

    I can’t understand much of this, and it’s supposed to be in English.
    But hip hop Jounnie Appleseed/Santy Claus Chuck D opening a youth center in Sydney.
    Didn’t hear anything about chocolate.

    Public Enemy Secret Show with Combat Wombat Liverpool Sydney

  26. 26
    JPL says:

    @David Koch: John McCain said we are Ukrainians now so I’m disappointed that Tom hasn’t put up a youtube of the Ukraine national anthem.

  27. 27
    BGinCHI says:

    @Tom Levenson: The “Justified” theme song.

  28. 28

    I have been listening recently to Neil Young’s album that he released during in the Bush years. Boy, I had managed to wipe out some of the memories of those years and they come flooding back.
    A. R. Rahman can get repetitive at times but some of his stuff is really good. Dil Se is on of my favorite scores, especially this particular song

  29. 29
    beltane says:

    @David Koch: I figured this would happen, though it did happen somewhat sooner than I expected. There is no way Russia will voluntarily relinquish control of the Crimea.

  30. 30
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Tom Levenson: Do not listen to Florida-Georgia Line. We have just enough rednecks and crackers around here that their horrible shit makes it to the modern rock/pop station that comes in strongest. And you can’t un-hear it. And it will insinuate itself into your brain and metastasize at inopportune moments.

  31. 31
    Cervantes says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: That is a good song.

  32. 32
    David Koch says:

    President telling Putin not to violate Ukraine’s territory with military intervention.

    Says Ukraine for the Ukrainians.

    Praises Ukraine.

  33. 33
    Amir Khalid says:

    There ya go.

  34. 34
    Tom Levenson says:

    @Cervantes: Yeah, I could and will, but given Henry’s penchant for War-and-Peace scale bloggery, I’d probably get my answer much sooner.

  35. 35
    BGinCHI says:

    @David Koch: Any idea whether National Review is siding with Putin?

    He so hunky.

  36. 36
    Amir Khalid says:

    @David Koch:
    What the world needs is a UN stronger than any national power. That way, no country, not even the most powerful, would dare defy it. But we’re never going to have that, are we?

  37. 37
    beltane says:

    @BGinCHI: This really puts the NR crowd in a quandary. They will just resolve the matter by blaming Obama for the whole thing.

  38. 38
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Betty Cracker: Country rap is different than Gangstagrass, right?

  39. 39
    gussie says:

    Lolita meets Lawrence Lessig:

  40. 40
    BGinCHI says:

    @beltane: NR: “Just invade something! It doesn’t even have to be relevant!”

  41. 41
    dm says:

    @Tom Levenson: I’ve had his latest book sitting on my desk for weeks, but it never seems to burble higher in the queue….

    I’ve really enjoyed Gibson’s more recent novels (Pattern Recognition, Spook Country, Zero History), more so, even than Neuromancer and its pals.

    Also, reading Zero History recently (and re-readingSpook Country) is a real good warm-up for tackling Thomas Pynchon’s Bleeding Edge. I couldn’t help thinking, as I read Bleeding Edge, that it was Pynchon’s way of saying to Gibson: “Kid, let me show you how it’s really done.”

  42. 42
    Cervantes says:

    @Tom Levenson: Word.

    (As the kids say these days.)

  43. 43
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Amir Khalid: I don’t know. Will it have the power to force our rural people to live in cities and ride bicycles? Apparently, even our weak UN has that power. Or it would. Were it not for valiant resistance efforts currently underway.

  44. 44
    jl says:

    As long as Ukraine is topic, McCain is right on cue:

    McCain: ‘We Are All Ukrainians’

    ‘ McCain said that Russian President Vladimir Putin thinks “this is a chess match reminiscent of the Cold War and we need to realize that and act accordingly.” The senior senator from Arizona added that that didn’t mean he foresaw “a conflict with Russia, but we need to take certain measures that would convince Putin that there is a very high cost to actions that he is taking now.” ‘

    Cold War nostalgia has a very strong attraction for some people of a certain age.

  45. 45
    David Koch says:

    @beltane: NR is still reeling and licking their fee fees from the Brewer veto

  46. 46
    Cervantes says:

    @dm: Pynchon is something else.

    That integral in Gravity’s Rainbow, for example, still cracks me up every time I think of it.

  47. 47
    beltane says:

    @BGinCHI: If Obama were a real manly man, he would invade Moldova in order to enhance the size of America’s prestige and show Putin who’s boss.

  48. 48
  49. 49
    BGinCHI says:

    @Suffern ACE: Don’t forget the tyranny of street cars and lengthy maternity leave.

  50. 50
    BGinCHI says:

    @beltane: Invading Belarus would be invading a Rus, but one with an easier ass to kick.

  51. 51
  52. 52

    @Cervantes: Yes, and so is this. I don’t understand every word but Urdu is such a poetic language.

  53. 53
    JPL says:

    @Amir Khalid: John McCain thanks you. Now get off my lawn.

  54. 54
    Cassidy says:

    @BGinCHI: that’s Gangstagrass. They’re a loose collective of sorts and I believe three albums have come out.

    @Tom Levenson: There is some hick-hop that have talent, but the songs are the same ol’ “I’m a country boy, look at my jacked up truck” crap. Check out Jawga Boyz For your baseline garbage. Lacs and Moonshine Bandits have a couple decent songs.

  55. 55
    Suffern ACE says:

    @beltane: If he had invaded Ukraine earlier instead of being all Neville Chamberlain and not invading countries that haven’t even bothered to ask us for help, we would not be in the position we are in now.

  56. 56
    Steeplejack (tablet) says:


    McCain: We are all the Ukrainians.


  57. 57
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Steeplejack (tablet): You couldn’t leave it alone.

  58. 58
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @MikeJ: Alas, my current home state is festooned with the Dave Matthews Band in that graphic. Which is entirely believable.

  59. 59
    MattR says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: This week’s Full Show Friday is a Neil Young concert with Booker T and the MG’s as the backing band from Germany on May 18, 2002. (Though I assume you were referring to his 2006 album Living With War rather than the 2002 Are You Passionate?)

  60. 60
    jl says:

    @Steeplejack (tablet):

    Sounds different than Old Country rap.

    Shadia Mansour

  61. 61

    @MattR: I was referring to Living with War, but thanks for the link. I will check it out.

  62. 62
    Suffern ACE says:

    @jl: This isn’t a chess match. A chess match would be taking his case to the UN to see if he could get permission to from the Security Council to invade. That’s technically the rules. This is more like taking knight and moving it diagonally because it would be more convenient to do so.

  63. 63
    Walker says:


    Neuromancer holds up really well except for one thing: memory size. There are references about pawning 4MB of RAM for quick money. But otherwise, its technology is still somewhat relevant.

    I have the audiobook read by Gibson, and still listen to it on long rides.

  64. 64
    MattR says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: Amazingly you could also have been referring to Greendale (2003), Prairie Wind (2005) or Chrome Dreams II (2007). 30+ years into his career and he still released 5 new studio albums between Bush’s first election and Obama’s inauguration.

  65. 65
    WereBear says:

    @Betty Cracker: However, I have heard that there is such a thing as “country rap,” and I think I’ll make an exception for that genre, sound unheard. I have never heard it and never want to.

    Cripes. Why would anyone?

    So I’m sitting in my Tundra with my Walker hound bitch
    Wonderin’ why my Levis make my butt crack itch

    I just can’t see the attraction.

  66. 66
    Villago Delenda Est says:


    Moldova’s too close to Russia.

    Uruguay looks weak. Let’s go after them!

  67. 67
    Villago Delenda Est says:


    Wonderin’ why my Levis make my butt crack itch

    Probably has something to do with his old lady screwing the pool guy and pouring the wrong stuff in the wash.

  68. 68
    PurpleGirl says:

    @jl: McCain: I was a POW. How does someone younger than me expect to understand conflict if they don’t experience being a POW.

    (lame attempt at sarcasm)

  69. 69
    Mnemosyne says:

    I am happy that it’s FINALLY raining, but the rapid humidity change brought my freakin’ migraine back again. I ran out of Excedrin, so now I’m mixing my drugs: one tablet of Tylenol, one tablet of Motrin, and a cup of coffee.

    ETA: And when I get home tonight, ice pack to the sinuses.

  70. 70
    HeartlandLiberal says:

    I will see your cultural mashup from Japan and raise you one from Germany / Austria.

    Not sure how describe this, but apparently German tastes can be mighty strange for a mashup of young female singers wearing mod imitations of Dirndl dresses and shorts outfits, including yodeling and country and western and rock elements to a good old German background of Schlager style rhythm. I watch a lot of German music videos of all sorts on YouTube, there is an amazing variety from Gothic Celtic Punk to classic Rock to stuff that is popular today that would make Lawrence Welk swell with pride and live again.

    But Dirndl Rock? Words sort of fail me.

    Stefanie Hertel. – Dirndlrock

    FWIW, you can ask YouTube to find “Dirndle Rock” and you will get a bunch of videos with different performances of this, some done with live audiences sitting around your classic long tables in German beer hall style. Apparently someone thought it was a worth repeating a few times.

    As long as we are on German music and rock, ask YouTube to let you see Rammstein doing “Amerika”. Fantastic hard rock and social critique.

  71. 71
    Big R says:

    @catclub: In fairness, the one-sentence summary of Spook Country is “Reporter uncovers epic prank accidentally.” There’s not a lot to hang on that particular theme.

  72. 72
    HeartlandLiberal says:

    @Amir Khalid: See my post lower in thread about “Dirndl Rock” if you are interested in German music.

  73. 73
    PurpleGirl says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: Years ago I used to watch Indian movies on Saturday mornings. I really should do that again. You can’t stay depressed with all that music, vibrant and exuberant as it is.

  74. 74
    PurpleGirl says:

    @HeartlandLiberal: Dirndl Rock because that’s the style of skirt they are wearing in the beer hall performances. Bouncy sounds.

  75. 75
    Cervantes says:

    @Mnemosyne: Ouch. Feel better.

  76. 76
    Robert says:

    So that’s where they’re hiding the heavy metal that doesn’t give me sympathy vocal damage because of the screaming vocals.

  77. 77
    Linnaeus says:

    Neuromancer is one of my favorite books. I re-read it every year and I never get tired of it.

  78. 78
    tokyo expat says:

    @Amir Khalid: @scav:

    They are saying chocolate. They’re also playing on the word “chotto,” which in Japanese means “a little.” So you get “chotto saki, chotto matte,” which mean ” a little before, wait a little (wait a sec)”. In other words, it doesn’t mean a whole heck of a lot.

    I’m not really into hip hop or rap, though it’s popular with my university students. My sons are into J-Pop, some Japanese rock and some US pops. I’ll have to show them this video and see if they’ve ever head of this group. New one for me and I’m impressed Tom found it.

  79. 79
    Citizen Scientist says:

    I just read Pattern Recognition a few weeks ago. Great read. Gonna do Zero History next. Enjoyed Spook Country; gotta reread it.

  80. 80
    Jon says:

    @Amir Khalid @scav @SatanicPanic —

    and the title (right up there on the still in katakana) is a giveaway: it’s “Gimme Choco.”

  81. 81
    divF says:

    @Citizen Scientist:

    Spook Country provided me with my sole moment of popcult fame: one of the characters re-named himself after a software package I was (and still am) the co-lead architect on (my co-lead is also a close reader of BJ). Right after the book came out, I was getting e-mails from colleagues who were also Gibson fans telling me about this.

  82. 82
    Cervantes says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    Yes, and so is this. I don’t understand every word but Urdu is such a poetic language.

    I did not care for the second song but thanks for suggesting it.

    The first one I liked. The tune is good; I sensed the poetry; and the dancing is beautiful.

    Thanks again.

  83. 83
    jake the snake says:

    This almost gives me hope for the human race. Quite entertaining. I especially like the robogeisha/gothic Lolita outfits.

  84. 84
    James Probis says:

    This video is my current favorite piece of Japanese pop music.

  85. 85
    jake the snake says:

    I confused Robogeisha and Robotrix.

  86. 86
    Lex says:

    Way late to this but wanted to add: Gibson tweets as @GreatDismal (as in the swamp) and often interacts with readers.

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