Up-and-coming director Arnaud Uyttenhove and writer Adrien de Liedekerke, whom you’ll soon hear more of on these pages, recently came back from three weeks spent in the Land of the Rising Sun. Beyond the obvious “bright light big city” effect, they came back with a couple of gems for us which we’ll be feeding you throughout the week, to celebrate the release of our Nippon Issue. We begin with a series taking the meaning of Bling to new heights, an engaging and ‘no-holds-barred’ visual fest of Japan’s hip hop fam’.
Arnaud was behind the camera, Adrien was taking note.
“Shibuya, Tokyo, Saturday night. We hit the coolest place in Tokyo; Shibuya is THE meeting point for the Tokyoite fashionistas who come here to show off their style before heading back to their 7m2 flat on the outskirts of the city.
By 11.30pm the entire place starts emptying up, as they all want to catch the last train home. But we’ve just checked in a capsule hotel up the street and by god we’re not going to end up in the sarcophagus this early in the evening. We start talking to two guys dressed up as your local crack dealer in central L.A. and ask them where to party. The answer is instant and simultaneous: ‘GAS PANIC!’
We walk up this door where a massive sumo-bouncer eyes us up from head to toe, (pfff gaijin) and reluctantly lets us in . And then it hits us, like a platinum knuckle-duster: ‘Welcome to the Temple of Bling’. Afros, tattoos, gold chains and silver teeth, you name it! It’s like walking in a club filled with Lil Kims and Lil’ Jons. These guys all look the part with their über expensive caps and sneakers, although the gangsta attitude has somehow been lost along the way. The closest thing they actually have to being ‘gangsta’ is their tattoos (a big no-no in Japan as it’s mainly a sign of belonging to the Yakuzas). These guys are stuck in the eighties with the carefree hip-hop of Grand Master Flash & the Furious Five, just the way I like it.
It has nothing to do with the attitude it’s all about the fashion, and believe me these guys spend a ‘helluva lot’ when it comes to dressing up. One sneaker shop we went to, was like Fort Knox with attitude, each pair was encased in a mini-vault that Maddoff’s victims would die for, and when you look at the price you get the point. They don’t have the cool American Oldsmobile but that doesn’t stop them from pimping their Honda with hydraulic pumps and TV screens (up to ten just around the driver’s seat!), neon lights in their wheels, or the Cheech & Chong chain steering wheel. Nothing’s too expensive to look the part in Tokyo and that’s just the tip of the iceberg…”