This presentation will examine the overlooked phenomenon of how young black British rappers and producers of grime music intentionally remix Japanese pop cultural artifacts to carve out a cultural space that gives voice to their urban realities and articulates counterhegemonic black subjectivities. From the early 2000s, at the same time discourses of ‘Cool Japan’ were emerging to explain the global rise of Japanese pop culture, grime artists were sampling sounds and themes from video games and anime to create a ‘cold’ aesthetic, which reflects their sense of alienation. I introduce ‘Cold Japan’ as the other Cool Japan, and a way of understanding this underground layer of Afro-Japanese hybridity that fuses Japanese pop cultural content with black urban life on the margins of British society. Further, I use the figure of the cyborg to disclose how grime artists transform Cold Japan into a site of countercultural resistance to subvert their oppression by self-generating transgressive posthuman identities. Examining how Japanese pop culture is selectively consumed by urban black audiences in Britain who have traditionally been excluded from scholarly discussions of Anglo-Japanese encounters, this presentation identifies strategies of hybridity and cultural resistance rooted in broader histories and imaginations of Afro-Asian connectivity.
Warren A. Stanislaus is a PhD Candidate in modern Japanese history at the University of Oxford’s Faculty of History. Originally from South East London, after graduating high-school he moved to Japan to complete his first degree at International Christian University. He has since spent over 12 years in Tokyo and speaks fluent Japanese and advanced Mandarin Chinese. Previously, he worked as a foreign policy researcher at Asia Pacific Initiative, a Tokyo-based think tank. He teaches courses on Afro-Japanese encounters and the intellectual history of Japan as an Associate Lecturer at Rikkyo University. In 2019, he was named No.3 in the Rare Rising Stars Awards for the UK’s top 10 Black students. Get in touch via Twitter @warren_desu or www.warrenstanislaus.com.