From “Street Fighter Riddim” by D Double E to Jme sample the Mortal Kombat 3 the soundtrack to “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 Southeast Asian melodies became so prominent in grime instrumentals that it split into its own faction dubbed “sinogrime”. Inspiration also went both ways: for years, grime has had a small but passionate fan base in Japan. Butterz has his own outpost there, Skepta has launched his Konnichiwa album there, and it remains a fertile scene of MCs, producers and DJs to this day.
Cataloging this, Oxford University researcher Warren Stanislaus published an academic study, titled From Cold Japan to Cold Japan: Grime Cyborgs in Black Britainin the Japan Forum review 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 the culture or identity of young black British people, we also have to talk about the impact of games, technologies and Japanese anime. Or when we talk about the global spread of Japanese pop culture, we have to include the grime story. Even at the extremes, black Britons have always been global.
“People often talk about lyrics that refer to the street fighter games, but the ties of grime and black Britain to Japanese pop culture and even East Asian culture run much deeper. If in the 70s and 80s it was Bruce Lee and Chinese Kung Fu films that inspired black youth, from the 90s it became the SNES, Sonic, pokemon, Dragon Ball Zetc A whole generation grew up with this thing made in Japan, and remixed it.
You can read the full study here.