October 22, 2008



I think it is safe to say that for all the readers in North America, very few have heard more than a song or two by a Japanese rapper. Sure there’s DJ Krush an amazing producer from the country who has made his mark on the North American rap scene, but very few native speaking Japanese rappers (if any) make it across to Canada. So when Modulok put on a show with Kaigen in Toronto, I had to check it. My mind was pleasantly blown and although I can’t understand a single word of his raps, I know it’s fresh and I want to keep listening.

Introduce yourself, your region and crew affiliations…

My stage name KAIGEN (a.k.a. Curse Ov The Kaigen) means “enlightenment” or “open your mind” and I’m from Tokyo, Japan. I’m rapping in my mother tongue and also making some beats. Basically, Kaigen is my solo project, but most of the time, I’m working with an Australian experimental hip hop group called Curse Ov Dialect (Mush).

I’ve heard that the turntable outsold the electric guitar in Japan, so does this mean that hip hop culture is really huge in Japan?

There are heaps of DJs here in Japan. That’s why turntables outsold some other instruments. The hip hop scene in Japan is kind of big, but many people who are into some other music (like techno, house, reggae, electronica even rock) are also buying turntables so not only b-boys. Djing (no matter what genre) is becoming the fashion nowadays.

My impression of the Japanese language is that there is a great rift or divide between the old and new generations. Does this mean that an older speaker would not understand or appreciate your lyrics?

I guess your impression is sort of true. Yeah, maybe some older people wouldn’t appreciate typical rap songs with a lot of slang, but they might appreciate my stuff because my lyrics are more conscious maybe.

Do you have a more traditional approach to your writing or does your music reflect more of a new, youthful expression?

I’m using old or non-common words and phrases more in my writing and also my lyrics are pretty abstract, complicated and the themes are difficult. People don’t understand what I’m talking about sometimes…so I’m trying to write more intelligible rhymes (even if the themes are still difficult), but keeping them fresh!


For someone who does not speak Japanese, could you give a few words on what your song “Third Eye Insight” would be about/topics you cover?

I’m talking about a lot different kind of things on the track “Third Eye Insight,” so it’s quite hard to explain it, but the main theme is like “where there is a will there is a way ” or something like that.

I’m talking about food on the track “Additives, Chemicals, Greed.” Nowadays, you can eat whatever you want, no matter when and where. Foods got a lot of additives and chemicals to keep them looking better or tasting better, but nobody knows how food additives affect our bodies in the future. Such chemicals are new things, so they haven’t been completely analyzed yet. I don’t say ‘don’t eat such kind of food with full of additives,’ but I just wanna say ‘you should consider these things before you eat because food affects our life.’

On the track called “A Pair ov Blue Birds,” I’m talking about stereotypes. Sometimes, conflicts between peoples happen from their prejudices. Most of the time, that kind of bias is wrong, everything can’t be judged in black and white. Important things might be grey, you shouldn’t ignore that and don’t consider from a one-sided viewpoint.

What are 3 things you liked and disliked about Canada.

I liked:
– The people — friendly, kind, beautiful and diverse
– The public transportation — very convenient! I like the 24hour buses (even if I didn’t use them), and subways running ‘til late.
– The hip hop — Modulok gave me a bunch of Canadian hip hop CDs, and I love them!

I disliked:
– The bottled water — I just didn’t like the taste

What brought you to Canada in the first place?

Modulok invited me to come to Canada and also I was interested in the underground scene in Canada. Some Canadian underground hip hop CDs are distributed in Japan, so I already knew some of them.

You covered the major centers in Eastern Canada on your tour with Modulok, did you notice major differences between Montreal and Toronto?

Someone told me like “Montreal is a more party city” and actually the atmosphere of Montreal was like that to me, even if we just spent a few hours before the show there.

KaigenHow did you link up with the producers for Curse Ov The Kaigen? Is this your first album?

Yeah, this is my first full length. Curse Ov Dialect crew (including me) produced this album. I used to live in Australia and met them there. I got really into their album Lost in the Real Sky. Actually, not only music, their way of thinking and their ideas also impressed me and they liked my very first EP, so we started to work together.

You have a new album coming out, what should we expect?

Probably me and Curse Ov Dialect will do a Japan tour in 2009 and maybe I could do another European tour too.

What do your parents think of rapping?

I don’t know actually! I’m not even sure they know what rapping is.

Do girls in Japan like rappers?

I guess so, but only mainstream cats — not like me unfortunately. Hahaha!

For more info check out: myspace.com/curseovthekaigen


15 Responses

  1. i met this kid in tokyo early this year. i hope he comes to montreal so i can peep his show. his not my favorite japanese rapper but i think hes pretty good… just a real nice dude though.. so dope he gets to rock canada

  2. hahaha. when i listen to this, i keep thinking im gonna get cut in half by a samurai sword.

    third eye insight is dope.

  3. Wicked interview. Too bad the Toronto show was so poorly attended. More people should have seen this.

    I can’t believe Jon B beat me to the punch. Now my upcoming interview with Kaigen will look like biting.

  4. Dope Interview. I like finding out what Rappers from countries other than the states think about Canada.

  5. This is really good. I like the music a lot.
    Is Phonographique going to be carrying any of their (Kaigon and/or Curse Ov Dialect’s) music? Or should I just roll with the online ordering/shipping?
    Thanks for bringing this music to my attention Jon and Noyz.

  6. Nolto, maybe Phonographique will be carryin his stuff shortly, I’ll let you know, otherwise you could get it from me, probably better than to order it from Japan.