The film Wild Style continues to have an enormous impact on Japanese culture after appearing on screen thirty-two years ago. Japan’s hip hop scene has evolved and came a long way.
Wild Style is responsible for exposing hip hop culture to Japan when it was released in 1983. It displayed the four elements of hip hop: MCing, DJing, graffiti, and breakdancing. Some of the most successful hip hop artists that Wild Style featured at the time were pioneers Fab 5 Freddy, Rock Steady Crew, Grandmaster Flash, Cold Crush Brothers, Kool Moe Dee, Busy Bee, and Lady Pink. The film provides a snapshot of hip hop culture in the South Bronx during the late 1970s and early 1980s shaping the way it has evolved giving a voice to the voiceless.
Many people saw the South Bronx as a war zone filled with bombed out buildings and rubble similar to America dropping the atomic bomb on the Japanese city Hiroshima in ending World War II. However, the major difference was that young people living there saw it as an advantage to express themselves in a constructive way. Hip hop culture was born out of struggle and provided the youth an opportunity to channel their frustrations with other like-minded individuals without harming anyone. During the early days, hip hop culture in Japan became tremendously powerful to the point of encouraging young Japanese people to breakdance in Yoyogi Park, Tokyo and learn about the art of DJing.
Japanese DJs have been influenced by hip hop pioneers DJ Grandmaster Flash, Afrika Bambataa, and Kool Herc. One Japanese DJ that inspired him to start DJing after seeing the film Wild Style was DJ Krush. This film does a great job in educating people about hip hop’s power to break through racial and cultural barriers. In the early days, many naysayers believed that hip hop was a passing fad but we proved them wrong. Hip hop continues to go strong after more than thirty years making a huge impact across the world stage.
Wild Style is the first film that planted the seed of globalization in hip hop we see today. No one could not anticipate the significant growth it has made over the years. I give this film a lot of credit because it provided hip hop artists/breakdancers the opportunity to tour in Japan and experience the culture firsthand. It promotes great cultural exchange among America and Japan. Despite their cultural differences, the music unites people.
Hip hop is an universal language that many people on the planet can relate to regardless of race or ethnicity. Music is the soundtrack of our lives and shapes the way we see reality.
Watch the YouTube video below that describes hip hop’s journey from South Bronx to Tokyo: