The Zeebra vs. MTV Controversy

Japanese hip-hop artist ZEEBRA disrespects MTV Japan on Youtube

Many Japanese bloggers are calling J-rapper Zeebra a modern day hero for uploading a YouTube “diss” to cable music network MTV Japan. Japanese hip hop has finally become political! F**k the industry and shi*! For example…

You talk to the fucking sponsors,
All the bull shit rap you wanna push

Heavy stuff. I remind you that this is the same Zeebra who made a serious video dedicated to the Snickers candy bar.

Zeebra’s beef is very simple: he was invited to the MTV Video Music Awards Japan, and if you get invited, you are guaranteed to win. Yes, the #1 criteria for winning a MTV Video Music Award is being the one act in the category to actually show up.

But he forgot about a more important criteria: having a video that MTV produced and received money to make. In this case, it’s Rip Slyme’s ode to the Sony VAIO “ING.” (Read my original one act play about the video here.) MTV brought Rip Slyme and Sony together on this marvelous work, so it was only right for the independent music channel and cultural arbiter to award itself for such achievement in the field of commercial enterprise hip hop.

So imagine if you are Zeebra and you show up thinking, “Hey, I showed up. I can’t lose” and then losing to a commercial for a computer. You’d be pissed enough to air your grievances in rhyme.

ZEEBRA the ill skill Makes peace with MTV JAPAN

But hey, maybe his efforts will get him a VMA Award and a Twix commercial next year! The possibilities for hip hop are limitless.

W. David MARX
June 6, 2008

10 Responses

  1. Laotree Says:

    A while back BS 12 was showing the 2003 VMAs, which Zeebra hosted, and Rip Slyme had their first big win…
    At first I thought it was this year’s awards and was very confused…”Craig David?…175R?…Minmi?” I was unstuck in time for a minute or two.

  2. W. David MARX Says:

    I am surprised 175R kind of disappeared. They were the proto-Orange Range, I guess.

  3. Aceface Says:

    “Japanese hip hop has finally become political!”

    But Zeebra’s backfground was always a sort of political.

    Meet his grand pa.

  4. statiq Says:

    I know this is supposed to be about selling candy bars but is there anything in Japanese hiphop that is remotely comparable to “independent” rap (say DefJunx or anti-pop consortium)? Or is this another j-case of keeping the signifier and discarding the signified ?

    I’m not asking for anything political, but maybe something that offers some kind of commentary on reality rather than pure entertainment. That form of hiphop seemed to have made it *everywhere* (regardless of cultural context), there are hiphop acts in Senegal, Cuba or even Iran… but not Japan ? Or is DISU limited to talent/cable tv communication ?

    I remember an interview with a j-rapper saying “Oh no, I’m not angry – you know like black people – we don’t have those kind of problems here”

  5. W. David MARX Says:

    Yeah, I think there are plenty of “real” hip hop people like Shingo2 that try to do “political” or “socially-conscious” lyrics. But just like in the U.S., they don’t play on MTV.

  6. fffffff Says:

    Why is this on this site instead of Neojaponisme?

  7. W. David MARX Says:

    If I write it in less than 5 minutes it goes here. If it takes me two weeks and is so long that no one reads it, it goes on Neojaponisme.

  8. hikikoś£ģ Says:

    It’s funny because it’s true

  9. Gen Kanai Says:

    I’ve never met Zeebra but my parents are friendly with his parents and having met his mother, I just can’t take him seriously.

  10. W. David MARX Says:

    Are you saying she’s so “street” that he can’t hold a candle to it?