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Hop is global.
Evidence of this phenomenon is Japan's full embrace of hip hop's every facet: breakdancing, graffiti, DJing, and even rhyming. It was only a matter of time before the Japanese hip hop scene produced an artist keen enough in understanding the culture to achieve similar international appeal: dj honda. dj honda was born in Hokkaido, Japan and moved to Tokyo at age 17 to pursue his dream of playing in an American influenced rock band. He started a band called, "Clique" as the vocalist & guitarist. However, the band struggled and honda was forced to seek additional employment. He began DJing in a small nearby city, Shizuoka where he was first introduced to hip hop music and various turntable techniques, including scratching. For honda, the turntables offered a new creative outlet. While toiling at perfecting his scratching technique, he created a popular name for himself as a DJ, leading to premiere gigs in Tokyo's largest clubs. He also appeared on Tokyo radio stations and remixed popular tracks for local record companies. Tokyo was also important because it was the place where dj honda would cultivate many valuable relationships with people like Afrika Bambaata and the Universal Zulu Nation, as well as some of the emcees who would later appear on his self-titled debut LP.
dj honda's first album self-titled, " h, dj honda " successfully communicated fluid cohesion between the producer and the artist and was released in Japanese version (1995) & U.S. Version (1996). Guru brought his freestyling ability to the forefront on the jazzy keyboards of "What You Expected" as DJ Premier added some of his own flavor on the 1 & 2's. Newcomer, Problemz delivered his entrancing lyrical ability to the Milt Jackson groove sampled on "Kill The Noize", while Redman showed off his bravado on the abstract sound of "Dat's My Word". Sadat X and Grand Puba of Brand Nubian combined with Wakeem over the buttery R&B-ish "Straight Talk From NY", and additional greats, The Beatnuts, Fat Joe, Al' Tariq and Problemz flexed their skills on the anthem "Out For The Cash". As expected, Common entertained with an interlude of rhymes, and Biz Markie brought us back to the LQ days in "Biz Freestyle". To further complement the album, Black Attack got gritty and grimy on "Fuk Dat", Tha Alkaholiks brought us some Westside flavor on "International Anthem" and Al' Tariq appeared again, dropping apocalyptic knowledge on a cut fittingly titled "The End".
On dj honda's second album, " h II" (Japan Version)(U.S. Version), he again championed with a few players from the first team, some rookies, and a couple of all-star veterans. De La Soul set it off on "Troubled Water", a smooth and introspective lyrical outing from the vets. Keith Murray and L.O.D.'s 50 Grand laughed at the competition on "Hai!" while KRS-One with Doe-V schooled the competition on "Team Players".Other team players, The Beatnuts, along with a former nut, Al' Tariq, and other respected underground artists, Cuban Link, A.L., Problemz and Black Attack brought the groove on with the first single, "On The Mic". Lastly, in cleanup position, was Mos Def with his melodious rhyme and reason on "Travellin' Man" which reached number 17 on Billboard - Hot Rap Singles (Jan. 23, 1999) as the second single release. The same track also reached number 51 on Billboard - Hot R&B Single Sales (Dec. 19, 1998) and number 76 on Billboard - Hot R&B Singles (Dec. 19, 1998). In 1999, h II was awarded an Honorable Mention in the Indie Award category by the AFIM (Association For Independent Music). dj honda has also made his impression in the hip hop world as a runner-up in the '92 DJ Battle For World Supremacy. Not only is dj honda a resident judge at most of the International Turntablist Federation (ITF) dj battles held at approximately 18 countries from around the world, dj honda is also the Chapter President of ITF Japan where he holds a national dj battle in Tokyo, Japan every fall season; the Japan champion dj will then be flown to battle for the world title as the #1 ITF DJ at the world championship finals.
In Fall 1998, due to differences in creative vision, dj honda parted ways with Sony Music Entertainment (Japan) to eventually launch his own independent record label, dj honda RECORDINGS. Currently, three offices exist for dj honda RECORDINGS: the US Headquarters is located in New York City as well as the US flagship store in the L.E.S. while the Japan Headquarters office is based in the trendy region of Shibuya, Tokyo with the dj honda 2 level flagship store in Sapporo, Japan. In August 2001, dj honda opened the doors to the South Korea headquarters office in Seoul as well as launching his flagship store there simultaneously. Since the launch of his flagship store in Seoul, he has opened three additional dj honda stores in Seoul, South Korea. The first official release dj honda RECORDINGS from his highly anticipated third album, 'h III', comes the single 'El Presidente' featuring Jeru The Damaja which in its first week of sales in June 2000 landed on three charts simultaneously of The Billboard Magazine. Collaborating with talented artists on several outside projects, dj honda, with his enterprising skills, has plans to expand his present lifestyle brand, " h, dj honda " into various markets which will enable him to become a household name worldwide in music, fashion, film and other markets. Already with over half a dozen retail stores in US, Japan, and South Korea under his belt, dj honda is now set to open more doors internationally culminating his flare for fashion, a keen eye for design & art and his affinity with music into one gallery space.
In late 2004, dj honda introduced dhf Films, Inc.(US)(JAPAN), a new film production company whose first film project, REASON was showcased in 2 film festivals: Tokyo Fantastic International Film Festival on October 14, 2004 and in H20 International Film Festival on November 5, 2004. REASON is a documentary film which chronicles the life and career of dj honda from 1992 New Music Seminar Battle for World Supremacy to present. Two versions of REASON will be produced: Japanese & English.
From turntablist to producer to entrepreneur, dj honda is turning the heads of many, makin' em nod, and proving to the international hip hop community that he is a mainstay, whilst making a name for himself in other industries. If the past is any indication of what lies ahead, this new millennium will certainly hold promises for dj honda to take a step closer towards worldwide domination.