Kreva is perhaps the most commercially successful solo hip-hop artist in Japan today. Originally associated with the group Kick The Can Crew, he broke away in 2004 and began a solo career with his first album, Shinnin Kreva, or “Rookie Kreva”. Since then, he has had more than a dozen singles and his album count is up to seven, including a ‘best of’.
As a lyricist, Kreva is not quite as shallow as many Japanese rappers can be. Much of his songs have romantic tones in ways that young people can relate to. His style and approach has changed over time.
An older single, Issaigassai, from 2005:
If you don’t understand Japanese, you can probably get the story from the video — it’s about a couple that spend a summer doing just about everything together, and then it turns out that she’s his teacher. The title itself means “any and everything” or “without reserve” — the chorus speaks of biting the bullet and then the final chorus asks, “when this summer is over, what will be left?”
THE SHOW, from 2006:
This one is undeniably a hip-hop video, with a heavier beat and money falling from the sky. But the lyrics aren’t typical of American hip-hop at all. I’d explain, but that’d take awhile.
The song Seikou off of the newest album, Shinzou:
He’s moved into a more electronic style now, though the lyrics have remained similar. Seikou is almost feel-goody, with the chorus repeating:
Your success is my success, how is my success? If it is, then that’s the best, let’s go where we can, let’s go anywhere!
Finally, we come to Umaretekite Arigatou, or “Thank you for having been born”. This is the type of song that really blurs the distinction between hip-hop and pop, and is part of the reason Kreva is so popular with mainstream fans in Japan. He uses voice effects, electronic background and a lighter feel. If you watch the video, you’ll notice that the choice of clothes is also really….not hip-hop.
If you want to check out Kreva some more, go to his website!