There’s something to be said about running into random folks in a train station, in a country far away from your own, being recognized, and asked for an autograph on a flyer for the show you did the previous night. It doesn’t happen to me anywhere outside of Japan, but here, as commonplace as it is (sounds weird to write that), it’s pretty damn cool each and every time.
The Japanese rail system is no joke: the trains arrive and depart on time, hurtle around banked curves at speeds approaching 200 miles per hour, and are the most comfortable way to travel the country. As Cut and I discussed whether or not Tokyo would surpass our admittedly high expectations – and the surefire pratfalls to come – I broke out my computer and finished the licensing paperwork for my man Uchenna to bring to Nigeria on Tuesday to finalize the deals for a forthcoming comp. Cut slept, fitfullly it seemed. Japanese jetlag is the worst.
The Japanese countryside is bugged out. If not the Sanyo Solar Ark (or whatever the hell that Brazil-nut looking thing is a few hundred kilometers outside of Osaka), it’s a giant ferris wheel.
Arriving in Tokyo – on time of course – we met up with Take, long time friend and co-promoter of every Stones Throw show I’ve done in Japan. We went straight to soundcheck where a miffed Cut realized he would be set up in a booth. “Oh hell no. That’s not happening,” he fumed to the staff. “I haven’t DJed in a booth since, uh, 1993? I’m sorry. Get a stage.”
Tell you what – there was a stage set up in front of that booth (dangerously close to the sub woofers, but, you know, Cut’s choice of poison I suppose) in about twenty minutes.
The show? Well, let me say it was probably the best show I’ve been a part of in Tokyo. There were some contenders – the one I remember most vividly was the one with Madlib, Karriem Riggins and J.Rocc in 2007 – but this one was just damn. good. and. fun. There wasn’t one song that the crowd of 600 didn’t dig. Obscure Minoru Muraoka modal jazz madness? Oh, there was a section clapping away on beat as if it were a Dilla beat or something. Man. Why can’t it always be like this? And why can’t it be like this in L.A.?
Cut paid the price for that stage set up – those stacked loops of his got progressively more distorted. But the crowd didn’t care, as they stared at the opposing screens when they couldn’t catch what he was doing up close and personal. What a routine. I can’t explain in words just how exciting it is to see him build those beats from scratch. DJ Muro was equally as impressed. “Just… Incredible,” he said, often repeating what seems to be his favorite adjective.
After his set, as the staff broke down the remnants of the stage, about 250 people remained on as I had the best time DJing I’d had since Funky Sole ended its run at Star Shoes in 2007 and I gave up on DJing on a regular basis. It was nearing dawn by the time I walked out of the venue’s doors and made my way back to Shibuya. By the time I reached my room on the 30th floor, the sun had emerged, gradually dispelling the grey clouds that had crept out overnight.