In my last text about the Japanese rap group hy4_4yh (read it!), I described them as “80s rappers, but in Japan, in the 2000s, rapping mostly over Indonesian rave music (“funkot”), or rock, or punk, or pop, or hip hop.” I focused on their time with the hyperactive “funkot” genre in the mid-2010s, but I want to zoom out and look at their whole career in a bigger perspective too.
“Rock, dance music, hip hop… What kind of genre is hy4_4yh in ourselves?”
“Yukarin: I think we are in the genre of <hy4_4yh>. Conversely, I think we can go anywhere.”
The group hy4_4yh (“ハイパーヨーヨ“) consists of Yukarin (MC Atai) and Yumiko (MC Chan), and started in 2005 under the name “OTOME⑤”. A few member changes and name changes later they became hy4_4yh (which is pronounced “Hyper Yoyo”), and released four albums between 2006 and 2007 (source). They were a bit connected to the J-pop “idol” world, but stood out by including rap and rock and trying out new genres. Songs from this early period can, as far as I know, only be found on Apple Music.
Then, around 2013, they started collaborating with DJ Jet Baron and making funkot music (intense Indonesian rave music). They made energetic and hyper songs about partying, being energetic and shouting words like “YAVAY!” and “tickeee!”. To get the full funkot experience, you should listen to this song, watch this music video, and these live shows by hy4_4yh. The mood of this time was kind of like the mood in this chaotic interview and in this chaotic live show:
But this was maybe too energetic to be able to continue with forever. How many new crazy lyrics about almost nothing can you come up with? And how long can your body handle it?
“Yukarin: Maybe I overdid “YAVAY! YAVAY!”.
Yumiko: When I sang “Yabaiyabaiyabababababababa…”, my neck got sick (laughs). It seems that I was overwhelmed.”
They never left funkot behind them completely, but after this period they widened their range and started experimenting with other styles. In a trailer for their 2015 album “YAVAY” you can get a sense of their random and diverse approach to music around this time:
Now, a couple of years later, they seem to more or less have landed in the hip hop genre. They always did rap, but after seeing the hip hop group “Rhymester” they got inspired to dig deeper into hip hop specifically:
“Yumiko: […] Perhaps it’s better to go back to rap like it was when we were formed? What? Isn’t it better to push it out there? […]
Yukarin: Around this time, I saw Rhymester’s stage live for the first time at Mr. Akira ‘s live concert. […] When I saw it live for the first time, I was shocked. This is what we want to be! […]
Esaki P (their producer, editor’s note): As Mr. Chan said earlier, I had been using rap since its formation, but I had never been aware of hip hop, so I had to study first, and for that purpose my predecessors. […]
To get a taste of their later hip hop style, check out the following songs:
And, even if they claim to have evolved into a hip hop group, they’re still doing other styles, like this funky piano song and this hardstyle/hardrock song, for example. Their lyrics are even more diverse than the music itself. They sing/rap about life, dancing, love, sports, food, and everything in between. They cover all emotional states from the saddest to the happiest, and all subjects between trivial and deep. Their lyrics are incredibly cute, but not in a fabricated way, it’s just their authentic personalities that are so harmless, quirky and cute for real.
hy4_4yh is a group that’s hard to define. They can make music in all styles and take the form of independent rappers, J-pop idols, rock singers or pop stars. They could do a sad ballad followed by a hardcore rap about animals in the same show. All these single covers are by the same band, and not for 15 different bands in 15 different genres – this says something about how truly random hy4_4yh are. Maybe they’re able to be this weird and multifacetted because of how personality-driven the group is. hy4_4yh’s whole thing is largely based on Yukarin and Yumiko’s personalities, energy and fun attitudes, to an extent where it almost overshadows how great musicians and performers they are (for example, listen to Yumiko singing!). They are multitalented and very dedicated, even on songs that may appear to be made just for fun. I advice you to follow Yumiko, Yukarin and hy4_4yh on Instagram, and stay tuned for what they release next, because it can be pretty much anything!