January 5 2022
The hip-hop mainstay’s playlist revels in American rap, both in the genre’s classic sounds and its more recent pioneers and trendsetters.
JJJ’s “Cyberpunk” was one of 2021’s boldest, most thrilling Japanese rap tunes. One of The Glow’s top Japanese singles of the year, it’s a manic, unhinged belter with a thunderous beat. It shows JJJ at the top of his game – and on top of everyone else, too.
JJJ has long been a rapper familiar with dramatic, enormous beats; comfortable tackling the wild and borderline-reckless with a calm, unfazed flow. So far, he’s released two proper solo albums – Yacht Club (2014) and Hikari [Light] (2017) – as well as a remix record, a mixtape and several EPs, beat tapes and singles. All have displayed the same daring production, cinematic worldbuilding and expertly-paced rapping.
In short, “Cyberpunk” is no anomaly in JJJ’s discography. It does, however, show the lasting excellence of an artist who spans both Japanese rap’s old guard and recent upstarts. As a producer and collaborator, JJJ has worked with the likes of 5LACK and ISSUGI, as well as STUTS, Kid Fresino and Daichi Yamamoto. His music bridges those eras, too, combining the flow, precision and level-headedness of boom bap with the innovative production of the new school.
Following “Cyberpunk” and JJJ’s placement on our end-of-year singles list, we caught up with him to curate a playlist for The Glow. He chose some of his favourite hip-hop songs from the past year, a fitting mix of classic rappers and choice newcomers.
21 Savage's boom-bap is cool – I like the line “So the karma don't catch up with me”. I've been listening to araabmuzik's beats for a while now.
I like it because it's so full of energy, but I also like the movement. But on the other hand, JPEGMAFIA’s songs are so in-the-moment that I can rarely much about the melody afterwards.
If you ask me who I like in the drill community, it's definitely M1llionz. His high voice is kind of scary and I like the way he carries his rhymes lightly, like he's hooking his raps to the beat – which is different from other drill rappers. This track makes me feel nostalgic for the original brandy song.
The beat is so cool, I was shocked when I first heard it. The sound of the jewels jangling around someone’s neck in G Herbo's verse makes for a strange atmosphere – it’s both scary and awesome. There's also a badass video of Big Sean freestyling to this beat on L.A. Leakers Freestyle, which I recorded so that now can listen to it a lot when I’m on the move.
The best show of the year was not only the performance this song, but the entire live performance of Lox vs Dipset. It was really amazing and gave me the courage to live. It's so cool to hear that right after the show, Kanye West called them both up and took them on a private jet to the Donda stadium to record. I've always loved Jadakiss. I used to watch this two-hour show every night before I went to bed.