July 09, 2022
JPN VER IS HERE
BudaMunk, a DJ/beatmaker representing Tokyo’s underground hip-hop scene, and Jansport J, an LA-based producer who has known for works with Nas, Hit-Boy, Benny The Butcher and Freddie Gibbs. On April 20, the two released “BudaSport,” a joint project between Tokyo and L.A.
The project was formed as a result of a session with Jansport J during his visit to Japan in 2020, and the mixed groove of two makes us emotional feeling and reminiscent of a melancholy rainy day in Tokyo. The album consists of 15 tracks and features many artists from both countries. Blu, Illa J, Devin Morrison, Slim Jeff, Like, Thurz, and Quadry from U.S. ISSUGI, Senninsho, Mr. PUG, Daichi Yamamoto, 5lack, OYG, GAPPER, Latlife and Ume from Japan.
In this interview, BudaMunk and Jansport J give us some background on the project, including how they met, the making of the album, and their inspirations. At the end of the interview, we have also included a playlist by the two, so be sure to check it out.
It’s really my pleasure to interview you. I listened to the album a little earlier. The groove of the two of you came together, and the songs bring a clear image to my head, and I was absorbed in listening from the beginning to the end. I would love to know how you met at first.
Budamunk : When I first heard about Jansport J was around 2010 from the Planet Asia & Tristate album and I liked his beat and started to follow his works. Then in 2013, we met in Los Angeles when I was visiting to promote my new album with Joe Styles called “Soul Quest” which was release via Delicious Vinyl. We had a few events together and have many mutual friends so it was natural to bond and connect with each other. Then in 2020, when Sport came to Tokyo for his 1st Asia tour, we linked at my studio during his stay and made all of the beats for this new album.
Jansport J : Thank you so much. Man, I can hardly remember meeting BudaMunk it’s been so long! I believe it was around 2012/2013 through my man Chily-T when I was working with Delicious Vinyl. He started educating us on dope Japanese artists and producers, and BudaMunk was a name I was familiar with through DiBiase. We always connected or did shows when he came to the US. I finally had the opportunity to come to Tokyo in 2020, and we immediately started working on beats together after my shows there. Everyone that ended up being on the album has a working relationship with either Buda or myself, so it was nice to bring the international worlds together.
As you saw in another interview that was answered before in Japanese media, you said that you wanted to come to Tokyo for a long time. What kind of things about Japan do you find fascinating?
Jansport J : Tokyo is a beautiful city. I tell a lot of my peers that ask me that it gives me nostalgia and a sense of the future. I love how connected the people are to the essence and art of the hip hop culture; alot of the fashion even reminds me of the trends I saw growing up just outside of Los Angeles. I’ve been fascinated with the idea of visiting Japan since my older sister lived on the military base in Okinawa back in 1998.
" I’ve always wanted to do a producer collaboration album similar to how J Dilla and Madlib made “Jaylib” together."
I felt that the collaboration album between producers was relatively rare. How did you proceed with the recording?
Jansport J : I’ve always wanted to do a producer collaboration album similar to how J Dilla and Madlib made “Jaylib” together. It’s empowering for Producers to put out their own projects, which is something both BudaMunk and I do. It made sense to link up and do something together, and to show music has no real language barriers. If it sounds good, it feels good.
Budamunk : Well, we would start with picking the sample together and decide who chops the sample, and the other will do the drums. We both work to a certain point, then switch and repeat. During the process we would add sounds and make edits as we work along. Once we felt that we had something good, Sport would use his MASCHINE to make drop-outs of the drums and samples. At the same timing I would add effects with my SP404 and record into Logic. Since we both use MASCHINE to make beats, the work flow was very smooth.
Did you feel any difference in the Japanese flow and the English flow when you put the rap on the beat, or did you have any consciousness when making the beat?
Budamunk : For this album we have lots of songs with English and Japanese verses. How we chose the featuring artists was from listening to the beat and figuring out who would vibe well and sound dope together.
Jansport J : The main difference was me not being able to understand every single word that the artist was rapping, but that made the music even more exciting. As a producer, I like to rely on feel. We paid more attention to the flow of the rappers, how the tone of their voices match the record. It all felt good.
In this album, there are many songs in which Japanese and American rappers are mixed in one song, and the combination is very suitable and it was very comfortable to listen to. How did you decide on a guest MC to rap on each beat? Do you usually check Japanese artists?
Jansport J : Thanks to my trip out there, and Chily-T & BudaMunk recommending artists, I was able to start to see and learn about more local Tokyo artists in person. We got to see ISSUGI rock a crowd. We got to sit in the studio with Kojoe and work on a song from the very beginning. So the more knowledge I had of the Japanese talent, BudaMunk and I were able to start to suggest who would sound good on what song, and what American artists could mesh well with them.
Listening to this album, I felt that the two grooves matched very well. What was the experience with the session with BudaMunk? Please tell us the differences you felt, what you thought was something new, and conversely, what you thought was common.
Budamunk : To a certain degree we have similarities with our production sound, but we both have our original groove. So I think that blended well for us. While we make music, it’s always fun to watch how the other producer makes the beat and we also get to teach one another tricks and learn about new plug-ins, etc…
Jansport J : It was fun seeing BudaMunk’s process and mine colliding. I think the first day was really just about us finding a groove and a workflow that made sense. I might start an idea in Maschine. Then Buda would come over and add basslines, warp the drums to make them sloppier and groovier, run through the SP-404 for effects. We just kept trying different things. It felt like a fun science experiment.
" And most importantly, hoping that people in Japan will spark more interest in Underground Hip Hop artists in the USA from listening to this album."
Did you find the most exciting moment in the process of making this work?
Budamunk : When we finished the beat, and when I heard the version with the verse on top of it.
Jansport J : I think my favorite random day of working on this project was the day in Tokyo with Kojoe. We had a beat in mind that we wanted to play him, and he started working on the idea right there at his home studio. Then we left for a while just to get a vibe of the local outdoor mall, restaurants, get drinks etc. The whole vibe of the day gave me even more understanding of the culture and bled into the album.
Did you have any goals or goals for making this album?
Budamunk : Definitely working with Janpsort J was something we talked about for a long time so that was great. Also having the featured Artists from America to listen to the song with the Japanese Artist is a very special feeling for me. And most importantly, hoping that people in Japan will spark more interest in Underground Hip Hop artists in the USA from listening to this album.
Jansport J : My real personal goal for this album was to show my appreciation for the people of Japan. A good amount of my fans over the years has come from the country, and I just wanted to show that “I see you, I hear you, this is for you. Thank you”. Lot of US artists tend to strictly focus solely on the US. I want Japan to be a place that I can come and create and work twice a year for the rest of my life! This was the start of that.
Where did the inspiration for this album come from? Did you get the inspiration from what you felt when you came to Japan?
Jansport J : I’m a big fan of catching random inspiration while traveling. When I go there, I want to have something out there that I can remember the trip by, besides pictures and souvenirs. What better way to create memories somewhere than to make music there?
Does the motivation and inspiration for production change as the world changes? There have been many serious problems such as the spread of COVID-19 and war in the last few years. Is there any change in your mind when making music?
Budamunk : Pretty much, I’m always doing what I want to do, but as the number of events decreased due to Covid-19, I had more time to produce and mix songs.
Jansport J : No change at all really…music has been the only thing that has felt consistent in the last few years. It’s felt like therapy.
You two have released a number of works, but are there any secrets key to creating creative ideas? Also, is there anything you are doing to keep trying new things?
Jansport J : Lately I’ve been motivated through working with newer artists. I’ve been blessed to work with legends like Nas, Snoop Dogg, Benny The Butcher, Freddie Gibbs etc. Producing albums from top to bottom and helping an artist find a particular sound on a project…that’s the most rewarding for me. I try to continue to do stuff like that to stay creative.
Please tell me the artists you are interested in recently or want to collaborate with. (Regardless of whether you are in Japan or overseas.)
Jansport J : I’d love to work more with the artists we have on this album! Love LafLife, Kojoe, 5lack, ISSUGI, all of those guys. Hopefully this summer. 🙂
Budamunk & Jansport J 『BudaSport』
1. Intro (tonite!)
2. Old School, New Design ft. Blu & ISSUGI
3. Make it Happen ft. 仙人掌 & Mr.PUG
5. Spice ft. Illa J, Devin Morrison & Daichi Yamamoto
6. Can’t Hide It
7. Susy ft. Slim Jeff & Ume
8. Pretty Eyes
9. All Praise Due ft. Like & 5lack
11. 21’til ft. Kojoe & Thurz
12. PipeLine ft. LafLife
13. Whereva You At ft. Quadry & Ume
14. Tell The World
15. 未来への希望 ft. OYG & GAPPER