Japanese MC 勝 remakes “Illmatic”

Perhaps one of the most intimidating assignments for a MC is to recreate the “Illmatic” album, arguably the best Hip Hop album ever produced. I personally wouldn’t attempt this feat; it would mean the next three years of my life consecutively being secluded in the “dungeons of rap.” The English language accomplishment was completed wonderfully by Detroit wordsmith Elzhi on “Elmatic.” This free release was critically acclaimed not only for its complex lyricism, but the fact that it complemented the ’94 classic; he also completely murked his corresponding Oakland New Parish performance for this project. I am far from a Hip Hop historian, but we can all agree that utmost lyrical complexity, which stays true to the original feel of “Illmatic” is necessary for any seasoned rapper to even attempt to remake this classic. In other words, you must be at Elzhi-lyricism level to succeed at this assignment.


Last summer, I stumbled by this flier at Bar Ado in Osaka, Japan. Very interesting… A Japanese MC from Osaka remaking the Nas classic.


勝 is pronounced “Masaru” and the kanji character means “to win” and “victory;” this summer, I had the pleasure of not only receiving a copy of “Re: Illmatic,” but also building with him. “Re: Illmatic” was truly a pleasant surprise for me. The artist approaches the classic with his Kansai-dialect and does a fine job of translating the Queensbridge vibe. If any American rapper were to attempt to remake “Illmatic,” that person would probably attempt to get in the mid-nineties Timberland/ gemstar mind state (which I seem to be stuck in a lot of the time,) however Masaru was able to deliver 2012 appropriate lyricism, without compromising his complexity on this project. What I mean is that not only will he receive salutes from the fans who understand what “Illmatic” initially represented, but he will be commercially viable to the eighteen year old that just realized that lyrics hold weight. Well done comrade.