Listen to FUNKASTIC by Rip Slyme.
Listen to IN THE PLACE WHERE THE LILY BLOOMS by Dragon Ash.
My year of living in Japan taught me the basic tenet of Japanese music: it's heavy on corporate influence and light on originality. J-Pop was mostly a washed out assortment of Disney theme songs or second rate Mariah Carey ballads. J-Rock was still trying to be punk. Even Enka, Japan's traditional folk songs, seemed to be made for karaoke. Everything sounded five years behind the times. J-Hip Hop was the only real standout. (Yes, you just add a J in front of it and it becomes a Japanese genre!)
Aided by Japan's loose copyright laws, Rip Slyme and Dragon Ash sampled from a wide range of oft-unheard Western sources and brought Hip Hop out from underground status in Japanese culture. Both groups rap mostly in Japanese with a smattering of English, though you get a feeling that they don't understand much English that they are using.
Like many Japanese bands, Dragon Ash took the nonsensical English word route when naming themselves. Rip Slyme, however, is a play on the Japanese use of the same syllabary (リ) for both L and R sounds, making a tongue in cheek (as it were) reference to the phrase "Lips Rhyme".
Photo: Japanese Wires (1).