Hip hop culture, arguably the greatest development of the 20th century, was born in the South Bronx neighborhood of New York City in 1973 and quickly spread throughout the world. Today, hip hop has taken root not just in America but in streets all over the world, weaving together unique stories from every region on Earth. Not to invite controversy, but today there is no longer any one place that can be called the home of hip hop. The local scenes of every country and region are linked together organically, giving rise to a massive, global hip hop culture.

In the Japanese hip hop scene, the most important hip hop crew making the biggest impact is AKAZUCHI, a group primarily active in Naha, Okinawa.

In addition to the musical pursuits of the group, which consists of rappers, DJs, and singers, not only does AKAZUCHI also operate a store and recording studio, in recent years they have also been hosting the largest outdoor musical festival in Okinawa. This unique, multifaceted stance has galvanized the hip hop scene in Okinawa, located on the southernmost tip of Japan.

The roots of AKAZUCHI date back to their high school days. The influence of soccer, which was not only how the crew met but has also been hugely influential to their organizational approach and mobility, cannot be overstated. Okinawa is a region rooted in folk songs and dances from time immemorial. Music runs through the very DNA of some Okinawans. Additionally, due to the U.S. military bases located on Okinawa, the influence of American culture and music is felt much more quickly and strongly than on the Japanese mainland. These various historical elements mix together on Okinawa, and as a result it is always overflowing with music.

In that environment, it was only natural that those “bad boys” who met through soccer would go out on the town every night and eventually start hosting parties. It was their management of LOVEBALL, now a legendary club in Okinawa, that would lead to their formation as a crew.

LOVEBALL started in 2011 as a place for them to hold their parties, dedicated to the ideas of “good sound, good space, and good vibes.” Even from a global perspective, it is extremely rare for a hip hop crew to have their own club. Making full use of this advantage, they built the stage with their own hands every night, deepened and maintained relationships with musicians of every genre, and eventually gained the trust of the Okinawan club scene. From this castle of their own making, AKAZUCHI performed, managed and hosted events, and ran a club; and in doing so grew from “bad boys” to a hip hop crew that represented all of Okinawa.

Although AKAZUCHI is a “real” hip hop crew, it has an open atmosphere that does not feel limited to hip hop. This may well be due to their management of LOVEBALL, a place that functions as an intersection for all types of musical genres and people.

These three factors are essential to understanding their present, as well as their future.

◾️RITTO interview

◾️NAMI NO UE Festival











◾️RITTO interview