Hollars and Dollars Exclusive Interview: Shing02December 13, 2010
No doubt many of you have heard, or at least heard of this talented Japanese rapper/producer named Shing02. He’s an artist I totally respect because his lyrics has meaning and he is definitely one of the few out there that can kill a verse with style in both English and Japanese. His unique style and flow has broken language barriers and his music has reached out to many around the world. He incorporates many different styles into his beats ranging from traditional Japanese like in “Kushi to Kanzashi” to a more jazzy feel like in the “Luv (Sic)” series with Nujabes. If your new to Shing02, then read this interview, listen to his music, go buy his albums and get his mixtapes!
In what city do you live now?
I’ve read that you grew up living in a few different places. Where have you lived and where did you grow up?
I was born in Tokyo, then our family moved to Tanzania, England, then back to Japan. I’ve be in California since late 1989, where I lived in the Bay Area till fall of 2008.
I’m assuming that Japanese is your first language. If so, at what age did you learn to speak english? Was it a difficult transition?
I was probably three, so speaking wasn’t too much of a problem. When I moved to California at age 15 though, it was a big challenge to catch up on the vocabulary and slang. Also studying for SATs sucked, but it helped in the long run.
Different cities = different trends…what types of music were you exposed to while growing up in different areas, and who did you look up to musically?
I think I was exposed to all kinds of music growing up, but I was more interested in graphic art. I wasn’t really keen on music till later. When I was in high school I started listening to Del, The Pharcyde, etc and was attracted to the West Coast underground scene when I moved up to college. I would’ve never dreamt back then that I would end up working with them.
How did you get into the hip hop scene? Were you an Emcee first then producer?
I met a bunch of artists in Berkeley where I went to school, so it was a natural progression for me to start freestyling and making beats. At first it was just for fun, but I was always curious to do more. I was very fortunate to be in the Bay at the right time.
Did you have a musical background growing up?
Not really, except for playing the guitar and bass a little bit. as far as chords and keys I had to pick it up myself. Understanding basic theory has helped me communicate with musicians, so it’s indispensable.
Your creative musical thought process. What goes on in the mind of Shing02? Do you try to find the right sound for your beat first? Or do you have a lyrical theme in mind? Or does it just vary depending on your projects?
It all depends, especially whether the beat is from another producer or if I’m making the beat. Most times if the producer lets me arrange the song or add instruments, it works out for the best.
I know you’re involved with many side projects besides your solo works. Please tell us about that.
Um, I’ve been involved with the Stop-Rokkasho project, a movement to let people aware about the dangers of nuclear energy industry. Rokkasho is a fuel reprocessing plant, but nuclear power plants are very hazardous in normal operations. We did a score for a movie relating to that, and I’m making a music video now.
Other that, mainly working with people around me and trying to motivate each other everyday.
How did you end up working with Nujabes?
I think one day he just contacted me and gave me a beat CD. I remember we listened to his jams in his car and then we started vibing from there.
I find that even though Japan is a country that’s so Pop oriented, they still have such a strong following and loyalty to the many sub cultures that exist, perhaps more so than here in North America. What are your thoughts on the Japanese music/hip hop scene?
You’re right about the sub-culture aspect. Whatever you’re into, people will respect you for being good at something. I think that kind of nerd mentality has spread into the US too!
I feel that your music overall has a very strong asian influence. How do you think that being in the US amidst the growth of hip hop influenced your sound and style?
Being the US definitely shaped me. How I think, how I look at the world. Also, the importance of being here and absorbing the news, pop culture, sports, etc, is all relevant to the kind of things you talk about in your songs. It all comes out in your sense of humor. You’re appealing to the common subconscious, influenced by similar events.
What can we expect from you in 2011?
hopefully more albums, and more video projects =)
Stay up, be smart.
Shing02′s Hollar Your 5′s
First Five things you do when you wake up?
1. Try not to turn on computer
2. Turn on computer
3. Eat breakfast if I’m not feeling lazy
4. Or brunch if I’m lazy or stayed up too late
5. Run errands, then start working on projects!
Five things you can’t live without?
Five things your really into right now?
1. Same as above
Top 5 things you need while on tour?
1. Mostly same as above.
Top 5 things you love/miss about Japan?
1. Do I sense a trend? Yes, same as above.