From D Double E’s “Street Fighter Riddim” to Jme sampling the Mortal Kombat 3 soundtrack for “Baraka”, the connective tissue between grime and Japanese pop culture is as old as grime itself.
Video games have always been sampled and referenced by grime MCs. In fact, in the 2010s, the influence of East Asian melodies became so prominent in grime instrumentals that it splintered off into its own faction dubbed ‘sinogrime’. The inspiration went both ways, too: for years now, grime has had a small but passionate fanbase in Japan. Butterz has its own outpost there, Skepta launched his Konnichiwa album there, and there remains a fertile scene of MCs, producers and DJs to this day.
Cataloging that, Oxford University researcher Warren Stanislaus has published an academic study, titled From Cool Japan To Cold Japan: Grime Cyborgs In Black Britain, in the Japan Forum journal on the influence of Japanese video games and anime on grime.
Speaking on what inspired the study, Warren Stanislaus told Complex: “When we talk about grime and Black British youth culture or identity, we’ve also got to talk about the impact of Japanese games, technologies, and anime. Or when we talk about the global spread of Japanese pop culture, we have to include the story of grime. Even in the ends, Black Britons have always been global.
“People often talk about lyrics that reference the Street Fighter games, but grime and Black Britain’s links to Japanese pop culture and even East Asian culture runs much deeper. If in the ‘70s and ‘80s it was Bruce Lee and Chinese Kung Fu movies that inspired Black youth, from the ‘90s it became the SNES, Sonic, Pokémon, Dragon Ball Z, etc. A whole generation grew up on this stuff made in Japan, and remixed it.”
You can read the full study here.