We recently had the pleasure of interviewing Japan’s hottest breakout star, JP the Wavy, ahead of his U.S. performances last month in March; he made his first appearance at SXSW and then traveled to L.A. to finish up his U.S. mini-tour.
Originally known as Lil Right, he started break dancing in junior middle school and rapping throughout high school. In 2016, drawing influence from cult Harlem rapper Max B’s philosophy of waviness, he changed his name to JP The Wavy. Finally, he made his debut in 2017 with a song called “Cho Wavy De Gomenne”. Well-known Japanese rapper Salu offered to remix the track – resultantly the track blew up, going viral with over 10 million views on YouTube. Since then he has collaborated with other artists including Korean rapper Sik-K, and Japan’s Exile Shokichi,
Our conversation with the artist gives us some insight into how he views the world of Hip-hop, fashion, and his place within it.
You began rapping at the age of 18. To get to where you are now with your own unique flow and style, what did you have to go through to get there? How did you discover that style?
I didn’t really think too much. Just hanging out with friends and making music. It was natural to develop my current style.
You also have a very unique fashion style, tell us about how fashion became part of your branded style and how it is affecting Japanese youth?
Thank you. To me music and fashion are inseparable. I think what you wear can change your mood; if you wear BBC (Billionaire Boys Club) you want to listen Pharrell, and if you listen to hard stuff you might want to go “swagger”. I want Japanese youth to know these kind of feelings. When we say hip-hop people would imagine Off-White, APE, Supreme; those brands are the only thing youth know. But, I feel they should enjoy digging both music and fashion.
You definitely have swag and rhythm, there is something about your dancing ability. Tell us, do you choreograph the moves in your music videos?
Nah, not really. I just go with the flow.
In an interview with Bandwagon Asia, you stated that you feel there’s a lot more room in Japan for growth in terms of rapping/hip-hop. What could other parts of the world learn from Japan in terms of embracing new styles or growth?
I always meet badass guys all around the world and get inspired so I can’t really tell you about my own country. Wherever I go, everyone says Tokyo is dope and they see Japan in a different way so they might know better than me, I guess. I’m still learning about our history and the Japanese music scene.
What can we expect from JP the Wavy in 2019 and 2020? With Music and Fashion?
I have been wearing and flexing what I like but I want to get closer to fashion in JP THE WAVY way, which is a collaboration with a brand and then create my own merch… I am planning a lot so stay tuned!
You are young and have a great opportunity to build something big around the world. What changes do you want to make in the Hip Hop community in Japan and around the world?
In Japanese hip-hop community, I want to make it mainstream music which any gender, age would be listening to.
In worldwide scope, someone like me whose short, looks like a teenager but wears super luxury clothes and releases a super hit song, if I could win Grammy and surprise the world, people would be like, “What!”, and dislocate their jaw.
Finally, fans want to know, if you could work with any Hip-hop artist in the world who would it be and why?
Pharrell. It is my dream to make music with his beats. Since I knew Hip-hop, his music and clothes have been around me. That’s how much he means to me and to the world. He is a legend.
I also want to work with ASAP ROCKY, He has made a huge impact.
JP the Wavy definitely has a unique sound and vibe mixed with a fresh new Asian hip-hop swagger. We can definitely say that we look forward to hearing more of his music, seeing more collaborations, and attending more of his events!