gorira) released a song earlier this year that prominently features samples taken
from a song used in the popular Super Nintendo game Donkey Kong Country. The
samples, which are from the Donkey Kong Country song titled “DK Island Swing,” are
clearly audible at several points in the song. Given this and the fact that the
song is called “Donkey Kong,” you would think that the song is about the
classic video game character but that is not the case. Lyrically the song has
almost nothing to do with the classic video game character aside from the
occasional mention of his name. Nevertheless it’s still a fun song and music video.
about who exactly Akko Gorilla is. Certainly this video makes it clear that she
is quite an interesting character. Her unique visual and musical style make her
stand out in a Japanese music scene which sometimes feels like it’s filled with
generic teenage idols. Interestingly enough though, Akko Gorilla herself began
her career in that world of “cute” and “innocent” female music groups.
2011 as the drummer of the 2 girl pop rock band HAPPY BIRTHDAY. One listen to a
HAPPY BIRTHDAY song and the last thing you would think is “one of these girls is
going to be a rapper one day” but that’s exactly what happened.
simply by Akko, used to fool around and rap on stage as the Akko Gorilla
character during the band’s live performances. She explains in an AOL Japan
interview that even back then she would think to herself “I’ve got a knack for
this rap thing.” However, it would not
be until the band broke up in 2015 that she would take on the Akko Gorilla
moniker full-time and start devoting herself to becoming a rapper.
other rappers is easier said than done. Although she had the musical ability
and the drive she still was unfamiliar with the whole hip hop scene and its
culture. So after getting some advice from a rapper friend she decided to
participate in a well-known rap battle competition called “MC BATTLE THE bato”
(罵倒/bato = abuse, disparagement).
Interestingly, in an AOL Japan interview she reveals that when her rapper
friend told her she should participate in this competition she did not even
know what a rap battle was and had never freestyled before. In case you’re
curious what a Japanese rap battle looks like, check out the video below.
Although it isn’t from the first competition Akko participated in, it does
feature her going up against a rapper named KZ.
the day of the competition that she threw up 3 times. Despite her nerves and a
few rough patches she did actually make an impression on many of the rappers
that were there that day. It was after this event that her career as a rapper
started in earnest. Since then she has been extremely active doing regular live
performances, blogging, making youtube videos and creating original music. Her
song, “Donkey Kong” is actually a single from her latest release, an EP
entitled “Back to the Jungle.” Prior to this though, she had already released
her first full album as Akko Gorilla, entitled “Tokyo Banana.” The music video
of the title track of that album can be seen below.
Although several of Akko’s songs do play off of the “gorilla” portion of her
name, many of her other songs do not. One particularly interesting song from
her first album is called “Beautiful Woman” and tells the true story of a woman
who leaves her rural home in Kyushu with dreams of becoming a nursery school
teacher and getting married someday. She goes to university and there she meets
a guy. They get married and she tries her best to cook and clean even though
she’s not any good at those things. The woman and her husband try for 10 years
to have a child but they are unsuccessful. It is in this difficult period in
her life when a shady religious group comes knocking at her door. She falls in
with them and begins trying to sell their strange “power stones” and doing missionary
work for them. But then, one day, she finds out that she is pregnant. This is
the child that she and her husband had wanted for so long. Unfortunately, the
child ends up being very difficult and a source of great trouble. And her
misfortune continues and she can’t help but think that this is not the way her
life was supposed to turn out. A truly interesting and unique song, which I
recommend listening to even if you don’t understand what she’s saying. Check
out the music video below.
rapper for a relatively short amount of time (not even 2 years), she has definitely
made an impact on the Japanese rap scene. I think that she’s definitely an
artist to keep an eye on and I’m looking forward to whatever she has in store
for us next.