Get to Know KOHH, An Artist First and Rapper Second
KOHH is a rapper and model from Tokyo, Japan. His first mixtape release was in 2012, Yellow Tape. His first full album Monochrome was released in 2014. Then came Dirt (2015), and then Dirt II (2016). In between album releases were various mixtapes, features on programs from VICE, and musical exposure from other ventures like in Keith Ape’s It G Ma and Dumbfoundead’s All In.
KOHH’s discography is filled with a lot of really interesting tunes which could sometimes feel like a complete contradiction to itself. “Err Day” on Yellow Tape 2.0 is what I would call a completely classic and timeless track.
First of all, it’s basically half in English, which is a nice thing for listeners who may not know Japanese. Second of all, it has lines like, “毎日tight jeans, Adidas, Nike” (every day tight jeans, Adidas, Nike), “Fendi belt, Fendi scarf, Fendi backpack, all Fendi errthang, でも時計Versace err day” (exactly what it says in English and then “except my watch is Versace”), “Fleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeex”, and “err day err day 何がお買う err day err day お金を使う” (err day what to buy err day I’m using money). It’s undeniable that this is THE ultimate flex song. I mean he even says it during the first verse! Not only are the lyrics catchy (and hilarious), but the beat goes hard as hell too. Now, this in comparison to a different song, say, “Business and Art,” in which he basically says if you live for money, you aren’t really living at all—that’s actually one of the lines in the song: “お金の為に生きるなら死” (translation: if you live for money then you die). He would rather die than make music for money. The entire message of the song is that music for him is art. He is not a rapper, he’s an artist. So there’s this ultimate contradiction between flexing really hard and being modest (while simultaneously being the baddest rapper in the scene), but you feel it inside and understand where he’s coming from.
KOHH’s lyrics are either really deep or really shallow, it’s based on the song you listen to. As an international listener who doesn’t understand Japanese it might sound the same either way, but when you know the meaning of his songs, it becomes much more of an interactive listening experience. He has a way with words that even if you can’t comprehend the language, you still understand the meaning and sentiment behind what he’s saying. I think that’s one of the most important things that music can portray onto people, and he hits it on target. In comparison to a lot of English language rappers and even other international rappers, his flow is very unique which makes his songs extra interesting to listen to.
My favorite KOHH song is called “Be Me.” Instead of a heavy percussion beat with minor keys repeating over and over again like typical rap beats are, it has a sweet sample at the beginning which continues to carry throughout the rest of the song. On top of slow chord, shifts are the smooth rhythm of KOHH himself going off about how he just wants to be himself, questioning why others might want to be in his shoes.
He’s big on collaborations, not only with other Japanese rappers like Dutch Montana and SALU, but international artists like Keith Ape, who I mentioned before, and Dumbfoundead. Because of copyright issues, a lot of his music is not available on youtube but can instead be found on Spotify!