East End X Yuri

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East End × Yuri (pronounced “East End Plus Yuri”) was a short lived collaboration between the Japanese hip hop group East End and the singer Yuri Ichii, ex-member from J-pop girl group Tokyo Performance Doll.

Members[edit]

East End members are:

  • Gaku, the MC (Japanese: ガクエムシー, born October 10, 1970)
  • ROCK-Tee, a DJ (Japanese: ロックティー, born December 8, 1970)
  • Yoggy, another DJ (Japanese: ヨギー, born May 5, 1970).

History[edit]

Gaku and Yoggy were friends in high school, often entering rap contests when they could; because they were interested in the same thing, they were acquainted with ROCK-Tee. Later, when entering college, Gaku ran into ROCK-Tee; as a group, East End’s first live performance was an event called “Peace Ball” (in 1990) many acts that are still famous in Japan today were in attendance, including DJ Honda, DJ Krush, Boy-Ken, DJ Yas, and others. East End continued to be strong as an independent act, but with little mainstream attention. Finally in 1994 the group broke strong into the mainstream with their pop-rap single “Da.Yo.Ne.” (with guest artist Yuri, thus “×” meaning “with” in the name East End × Yuri). Sales were slow at first, but in early 1995 East End × Yuri single broke the million sold record, the first in Japanese hip hop history. Essentially a mainstream one hit wonder the group continued to release singles trying to recapture the limelight, but were unable to do so. In 2003, after a short break, they released a full album with many “forefathers” of Japanese hip hop and got some media attention, but failed to break into the mainstream once again.

East End, as a group, were at first skeptical about collaborating with Yuri, an "idol" pop star with her former band Tokyo Performance Doll. Yuri, being a woman, posed a possible threat to their careers since women do not frequent the hip hop scene in Japan. Female singers are more commonly associated with pop songs and “cute” acts/groups; the fact that Yuri was a woman, however, posed to be very beneficial for the group in the end. She gave them a second chance in the recording industry after their first album did not sell as much as the producers wanted. Having a pop star on their side then allowed them to get back in the game of recording, when they might not have had this chance without her.[1] Also, her “cute” element made them appealing to a bigger audience; as Yuri said, she does not sing about sex and drug because it “doesn’t fit her”. This greater appeal gave East End x Yuri a bigger audience, spanning pop and hip hop fans in Japan.[2][3]

"Da.Yo.Ne."[edit]

The “Da.Yo.Ne.” mini-CD single, plus “Da.Cha.Ne.” and “So.Ya.Na.”

Consider the group’s signature song, with the highest sales; the lyrics are often thought of as simple with no heavy social commentary, although this is similar to a lot of Japanese hip hop of the time. The song’s refrain contains the song’s name sake:

Da yo ne, da yo ne
Iukkyanai ka mo ne sonna toki nara ne

The phrase da yo ne is informal Japanese, mainly used in Tokyo (“east” area of Japan); because of this several other versions of this song were recorded as West End × Yuki, North End × Mai, North East End × Mai (and others) which included local versions of the phrase turned into “So.Ya.Na.,” “Da.Be.Sa.,” and “Da.Cha.Ne.” respectively. A compilation album was released made up entirely of variations of “Da.Yo.Ne.”

Although lasting only as a memory for most Japanese people, the song “Da.Yo.Ne.” helped to spark the hip hop movement in Japan.

The song contains a sample of “Turn Your Love Around” by George Benson.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Condry, Ian. Hip-hop Japan: Rap and the Paths of Cultural Globalization. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2006.
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ (in Japanese)