In the sweaty, smoke-filled basement club Family, blocks from Shibuya station, I was lucky enough to catch Cello aka Massan (Dishup Records) and his band, featuring Mabanua (drums), 13souls (guitar), RootSoul (bass), sugames Japon (drums) and the talented nene on vocals.
The small spot, with a capacity of around 75, had close to that number when I walked in and somehow had space to fit a full wall of massive speakers, a sound system meant for a much larger space. It was in front of that wall that I carved myself out a space to shoot the show, a mistake without earplugs. The crowd was ridiculously enthusiastic, b-girls occasionally jumped onto the stage, the smooth as hell band ran through an hour of original, jazzy hip-hop followed by covers of Common’s The Light, solos by each band member, and a freestyle session, I understood none of the 98%-in-Japanese show and I had an amazing time. What struck me most about the whole scene was the lack of pretension and genuine love for and knowledge of the music; the level of skill shown by all involved was extremely high.
Thanks to my friends Mabanua and Saori for the hospitality, it was much appreciated.
For more info on Cello, see his myspace page at http://www.myspace.com/celloakamassan.