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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

The Teriyaki Boyz has fun hip-hop flavor

Published: November 9, 2007
Section: Arts, Etc.

Ever since the release of the popular car/action film The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, Japanese hip-hop sensation The Teriyaki Boyz has created a considerable, albeit overlooked, wave over here in the states. Most notably, the band worked with my two favorite producers, Pharrell Williams and Kanye West, and is one of the many front men of the Japanese-owned Bathing Ape clothing line.

The groups latest project, a song and music video entitled And I Still Love H.E.R., represents not only a resurgence of the 90s roots from which todays hip-hop was born, but also the beginning of what could be an international sensation.

The song's premise is a tribute to rapper Common Senses song I Used to Love Her. Therein Common compares his love for hip-hop with a relationship with a girl whos fallen from grace. Common so artfully interplays the nuances of love and the harsh realities of growing up with metaphors concerning the transformation of hip-hop into an industrial vehicle that one truly doesnt make the connection until the final words of the song and her name was hip-hop.

The Teriyaki Boyz , along with Kanye West, take the song to a new place, focusing not on the transition of hip-hop itself but the effect of this genre on their childhood. From what I could tell by repeatedly accosting my friends who understand some Japanese, the song discusses hip-hop through the eyes of adolescent school boys.

Allusions are made, in both English and Japanese, to the classic movie School Daze, which deals with the trials and tribulations of youth and embodies the soulful feel that song wishes to convey. The song also references the Biz Markie song, Just a Friend, and we can tell from this as well as other clues found in the video that the song deals with rejection of some sort by a female representing hip-hop.

If the song is a tribute to Commons past work, then the music video is an homage to hip-hop itself. The video is a creative, fun, and lighthearted effort, which even features the ever-elusive Mr. West hanging out with the Teriyaki Boyz. The video's premise is pretty cool too. When the video opens we think were seeing a screen when were actually watching a fabricated site known as “Teriyaki Tube.” As the screen closes into the right we watch a video of a video of the Teriyaki Boyz seemingly having the time of their lives.

The reason that this song is an homage to hip-hop is the feel. Its literally like opening up a time capsule and looking at images of a better time. I wasnt even aware of music in the 90s but the video still held an air of nostalgia for me. I felt myself missing real hip-hop. The video goes through snapshots of different styles of attire that have appeared throughout the history of hip-hop. Everything from the Kangol hats to those ridiculous glasses can be found somewhere in the video.

We also see a little cartoon of hip-hop depicting the Teriyaki Boyz all displayed in colorful body bag style hoodies, and Kanye West depicted in the cartoon as his trademark Bear persona. They repeatedly ask a woman, representing hip-hop, to go along with them and are repeatedly rejected

The song also, despite its light- hearted tone, carries something of an uplifting and powerful message. Although, in many ways weve lost hip-hop, it still remains ours and it can be reclaimed. This is epitomized in the last scene of the video where, after her repeated rejections, the girl finally gets in the car. The Teriyaki Boyz' efforts to maintain the origins of hip-hop is something more artists should aspire to.

Why arent the Teriyaki Boyz more popular? Most likely it's the language barrier. I for one, had no problem just following the cadence of the flows and riding with the well-produced Kanye track.

As for Kanye, he comes to this track with his usual fodder. Nothing particularly insightful. This song is all cocky Kanye;

hes just having fun. That, I believe, is the real point.

The Teriyaki Boyz, with some help from the Louis Vuitton Don are really trying to bring us back to a time when hip-hop was all about fun. No killing, no battles, no beef, no gangstas. As I said before, I may have not been around for it, but I sure miss it. Maybe with more creativity and open-minded artistry hip-hop can be as it once was. Nonetheless, just like the Teriyaki Boyz, I Still Love H.E.R