Top Japanese Rappers:
List of the Best Japanese Hip Hop Artists
Hip hop music in Japan has emerged as a prominent genre in eastern Asia. The country has witnessed the growth of a thriving music scene, with a considerable number of skilled Japanese rappers making their mark in the music industry. As a result, the Japanese hip hop scene has gained popularity and has become the top hip hop market in the region.
The origins of Japanese hip hop can be traced back to the 1980s as Japanese were exposed to American culture through various media channels. Although the culture was embraced on a small scale, it led to the introduction of rap music into Japan. One of the key figures who brought rap music to Japan was Hiroshi Fujiwar, a leading influencer of Japanese urban and pop culture, who also played a significant role in introducing streetwear to the country.
Some of the Japanese rappers that are now pioneers of Japan’s hip hop scene and have opened the doors and set the standard for rap music in Japan are artists like Seiko Ito, Yann Tomita, Rhymester, Scha Dara Parr, King Giddra, Buddha Brand, and several others, just to name a few.
At present, in Japan, the hip hop industry comprises both veteran MCs who were instrumental in establishing hip hop culture in Japan, and a new generation of rappers who are elevating the genre to greater heights.
Top 20 Japanese Rappers
Rapper, singer, and producer, pretty much an all-around talent, SKY-HI first came into the spotlight during the 2000s as a member of the group AAA. In 2014 he released his debut album Trickster, while debuting as the solo artist SKY-HI in 2013 with the song “愛ブルーム/RULE”. Since then, he has become a dominant figure in the Japanese music industry, having released over a dozen albums, numerous hit records, and receiving various awards and a large following.
Veteran Japanese rapper AK-69 made his first appearance in 2004, and excelled to the top of Japanese hip-hop, becoming one of the premiere Japanese rap artists of the 2010s. For over 20 years, AK-69 has given his contributions to hip-hop, helping to lead Japan into the number one spot of Asian hip-hop.
3. JP The Wavy
JP The Wavy made his debut in 2017 with the WAVY EP and has since released two albums, Life is Wavy in 2020 and Wavy Tape in 2021. He has also appeared on the Fast & Furious 9 soundtrack with his song “Bushido” and has produced hit songs like “WaveBody,” “Neo Gal Wop,” and “Just A Lil Bit.” Many consider him to be one of the most influential Japanese rappers of his generation.
4. ¥ellow Bucks
One of the newcomers to Japanese hip-hop, ¥ellow Bucks first appeared in 2019, beginning with the single “Grow Up”, which led up to the EP To The Top. Since he has released two albums Jungle in 2020 and Ride 4 Life in 2022, and several number one tracks, like “Yessir” and “My Resort”.
As veterans are remaining strong with their presence, the newer generation is slowly taking over, OZworld stands at the lead. With his first official release being in 2018, the years 2020 and 2021 is when OZworld began to make a name for himself in Japan’s entertainment industry, but not before releasing his debut album, Ozworld.
One of the several new Japanese rappers to emerge on the top tier of Japan’s hip-hop music scene, LEX made his introduction in 2018. Releasing multiple singles until he became ready for his debut album, Lex Day Games 4, released in 2019. It can be argued that LEX is currently one of the most popular Asian rappers. LEX has been consistently gaining fame and success, having released a total of six albums and two EPs since 2019. His songs have been hits after hits, and he has also gained recognition on a global scale.
Veteran MC PUNPEE began during the 2000s, first with under the wing of multiple Japanese hip-hop groups, while building his name in Japan’s battle rap scene. With an extensive portfolio of albums, mixtapes, and collaborative ventures, PUNPEE has become a prominent figure in the Japanese hip-hop scene.
Before releasing the ZIP ROCK STAR EP with Henshin Genshi Club in 2017, WILYWNKA started his hip hop journey by participating in several hip-hop competitions. Following his debut album SACULA in 2018, he gained recognition for his popular tracks such as “Our Style”, “Take It Easy”, “See You Later”, and others, along with the release of four albums since his freshman album of 2018.
t-Ace, a veteran artist known for his versatility in switching styles and showcasing his creativity, made his debut in 2008. Throughout the 2010s, he emerged as one of the most recognizable Japanese rappers, releasing more than ten albums that garnered millions of views, streams, and album sales, while also amassing a significant fan following.
Anarchy, a veteran Japanese rapper, entered the hip hop scene in the early 2000s as a member of the rap group Ruff Neck. He later released a series of singles as a solo artist, including “Growth” in 2006, which paved the way for his debut album Rob the World in the same year. Anarchy has since built one of the greatest legacies in Japanese hip-hop, which has carried over to the 2020s.
RYKEYDADDYDIRTY, a fresh face in the Japanese rap scene hailing from Hachioji, burst onto the scene with his debut album Pretty Jones in 2015. With a total of 6 albums and 1 EP released to date, his popularity has grown due to hits such as “All Gods Bless Me”, “Cry Now and Smile Later”, and “You Can Get Again”.
ZORN, a veteran MC hailing from Katsushika Ward, began his career in hip-hop as a battle rapper in the 2000s. He later released his first album, Mental Sketch, under the name Zone the Darkness in the late 2000s. Since then, he has become a prominent figure in Japanese hip hop, changing his name and dominating the scene throughout the 2010s and continuing to do so today.
KOHH, who hails from Kita Ward, is a musician of mixed Japanese and Korean heritage. He made his debut in the early 2010s with two mixtapes, Yellow Tape 1 and Yellow Tape 2, before releasing his first official project, Monochrome, in 2014.
Hailing from Yokohama, Japan, Kreva began his career as a member of the rap group Kick the Can Crew, which gained immense popularity in the late 90s. He later went solo and has since released several successful albums, including Shinjin Kreva, Kijun, and Underground Hero. Kreva’s contributions to Japanese hip-hop have earned him numerous awards and accolades, while also inspiring and influencing other Japanese rappers of future generations.
Miyachi, who hails from New York City, the birthplace of hip-hop, made his debut in 2017 and has put out several albums, including Wakarismasen in 2019 and CROWS in 2020. Among his popular tracks are “Crazy Outside,” “Mainchi,” and “Wakarismasen.”
16. MC Tyson
MC Tyson’s first introduction as a Japanese rapper was during the mid-2010s. Slowly making a name for himself, he would release his first album The Message in 2016. With four albums under his belt, his most successful has been The Message III, which featured popular songs “I’m T”, “Forever”, and “Chain On My Neck”, and 2021’s The Message 4.
17. Novel Core
In 2019, Novel Core made its debut with the EP “Core of Love” and has since produced popular tracks like “Be You”, “Thanks All My Tears”, “I Know It Wolf”, “Happy Tears”, and more. This Japanese rapper is among the rising stars in the industry and has released three albums titled WCMTW, No Pressure, and A Great Fool. All of these works have contributed to Novel Core’s growing reputation.
SALU has been making waves in hip-hop since the 2010s, as the Tokyo native began his music career during the later part of the 2000s. Known for his clever lyrics over Japanese hip-hop’s most premiere beat selection, SALU has released several successful albums and singles since his initial beginning, growing a sizeable fanbase.
In 2013, Kowichi made his debut with the EP titled Cake Up. He has showcased a unique style and approach that is unparalleled since his debut. Over the years, he has released more than 6 albums, which include The Plain in 2016, Value in 2018, YOMIURI in 2019, and Higher in 2020.
Storming onto the hip-hop scene in 2016, Vigorman is one of Japan’s top rising Japanese rappers. With his stock rising, Virgorman has become unstoppable, releasing four albums, Dank Nova, Solipsism, Chemical Reaction, and 2023’s Full Course, since his arrival.
Honorable Mention Japanese Rappers:
– Leon Fanourakis Youtube: Leon Fanourakis | Instagram: @Leon Fanourakis
– Ken the 390 Youtube: Ken the 390 | Instagram: @Ken the 390
Top Japanese Rap Related Topics:
*Unofficial Order. The more popular artists that have a combination of the most followers, streams, views, and recent releases are near the top.
*If any artists are missing from the list email email@example.com