Inside Tokyo’s Graff Scene with YESCA ONE and REMIX

A few years ago, i had a discussion about graffiti with the Nostalgia King, Skeme Richards. We both come from the bygone era where as hip-hop heads, you knew your city’s graff writers. You knew the crews, paid attention to who was getting up the most, they were probably your homies, and you likely had a handstyle and wrote yourself.

Over the course of that conversation we discuss how graffiti was the least co-opted element of the hip-hop culture industry. It never truly crossed over. Perhaps because the act of writing is at its center, illegal. It is firmly anti-authoritarian, inherently unprofitable, and essentially the one element thats authenticity demands you risk your financial and physical well being to participate. It’s a goon endeavor.

One thing that’s remained fairly unchanged are the furtive movements. Gotta cover your face and cover your tracks. You won’t have a youtube channel with selfies. It’s unlikely that you’ll ever know who’s writing TECK all over Tokyo. That is unless you see him tagged in your homies fridgerator.

Its just more difficult to step into the world of graffiti. There are books and resources but the evolving history, cultural movements, stylistic innovations, and general whos-who are more difficult to pin down. And much of the stories are from an oral history, photos that get lost in people attics, and buff off of walls nearly as fast as they went up.

If you’re like me, you have a fascination for the craft and admire both the artistic ability and the fuckin balls it takes.

When it comes to Tokyos graff scene, you’ll be hard pressed to find any information in english. My first few years in Japan I saw so many cats all over the place. I’ve seen throw ups in Okinawa that were also all over mainland Japan. WHO ARE YOU!!

I naturally wanted to know more about my area and none of the foreigner homies seemed to know shit. So I set out to do it myself. And I had some success but never more than a chance meeting YESCA ONE a few years again. He introduced me to REMIX and since then we’ve become homies. And who better to ask about Japans graff community?

Between the two of them, there are nearly 50 years of graff writing. For YESCA, who started in Canada, almost 20 of that takes place here in Japan. So he, more than any other English speaking graff writer, knows the city inside and out.

Remix is a member of some of the most notorious writing crews around the world. Over 5000 trains destroyed. A true underground legend. His is a name known by the greatest living writers to ever spray paint.

I recorded with these guys a few years back on episode #081. We hit a lot of questions about writing in Japan. But this new episode, while slightly drunk, felt much more informative.

One of the topics we discuss is Tokyo as a graffiti city. Remixer has traveled the world and written is so many fucking countries it’s unbelievable. So when he says Tokyo is a shitty graffiti city you should take his world for it. They tell me about VERY ONE. A writer in Osaka who is not incredible with a can but also a dude that has literally brought graffiti to other countries in East Asia. I also ask where are all the modern Black graff writers, to which they ask the same question.

This episode is a lot more like a classic Mega Late Show episode. There’s alcohol and the whole thing runs much longer than usual.

Overall, even through the beer and tangents, you’ll learn more about Tokyo’s graffiti scene than anywhere else.

Tokyo, Hip-hop, art,and culture.  Mega Late Show hoe. It’s the best spot for that.

– Meg

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