Good-time rap for all ages
The most charming moment of Schadaraparr’s came near the end, when they held a “request corner.” One should always take the actual spontaneity of such moments with a little grain of salt, but the pioneering Japanese rap trio’s rationale went along the lines of they had too many songs amassed over a multi-decade career, so they were leaving it to fans to shout out what they wanted to hear. The three pointed to folks, listened to shouts and then jumped into an abbreviated version of whatever was suggested to them. It was a playful passage, highlighting Schadaraparr’s celebrated tenure and tight relation to fans.
For a group that helped push hip-hop into the Japanese mainstream by offering a new perspective on the American-born style, their early evening set at the Red Marquee felt partially like a well-earned victory lap. Schadaraparr touched on a handful of their biggest hits, from the call-and-response frenzy of “Lights Camera Action” to the smooth groove of “More Fun-Key.” They worked in newer songs — recent release “Summer Jam 2020” got the crowd bopping along — but this was a performance built on long-standing hits. “Sorry to all the young people here,” they said at one point.
Regardless of age, everyone packed tight in the Red Marquee — and even the folks pushed all the way to the back, where the forest starts — could get into thanks to the trio’s pumped-up approach to performing. They dashed around the stage, and held up signs at times to help get the crowd screaming out certain words (highlights – “FUN” and “BRA”), giving the set a cartoon-like vibe. And they managed the rarest of feats, having funny between song banter, running from jokes about the crowd size (“Oh, I guess Radwimps just finished”) to goofs about J-pop heavyweight Kenji Ozawa being stuck at the station, so he couldn’t guest on one of their biggest collaborative hits (Ozawa plays Saturday). It was a fun and loose way to get Friday night underway.