Tokyo rapper arrested for tagging Yamanote Line while intoxicated


Public not at all shocked by the news.

The four pillars of hip hop culture are often said to be rapping, DJing, break dancing and graffiti, with the latter being by far the most controversial and empowering concepts of public space, freedom of expression and the very nature of what defines “art.”

It’s just something like a graffiti where a practitioner has his picture taken with the governor of Tokyo while another goes to jail. And then we have the curious case of Masashi Sawada.

Witnesses saw Sawada tagging a train door of a Yamanote line car around 2 a.m. on March 25 and notified the police. Later, more marks were found on the walls of Ikebukuro Station and security cameras confirmed he was the one who made them. The cost of cleaning the train door alone would be around 80,000 yen (US$616).

The 42-year-old was said to have been on his way home from watching a concert and was intoxicated writing on surfaces with yellow spray paint. Some reports also interestingly refer to him as a “self-proclaimed rapper”, which seems like a bit of an unnecessary dig at the guy.

▼ Arrest report that calls Sawada a ‘self-proclaimed rapper’

The label certainly didn’t win public sympathy either according to online comments such as the following:

“He looks more like PaRappa the rapper.”
“42 years old… What are you doing?”
“He just carries spray paint everywhere he goes?”
“Why does it cost 80,000 yen to clean a door?”
“Looks like he got hit in the head a couple of times.”
“Who brings spray paint to a live show?”
“It’s hard to be a teenager when you’re 42.”

Just to clarify, Sawada is indeed a rapper who performs under the names J. Columbus and Lil’ Mercy.

He is also the singer of the hardcore band Payback Boys.

While it’s fair to note that Sawada is a very active musician and not just a guy who calls himself a rapper, that still doesn’t excuse the problem. In fact, any conceivable defense that he attempted to exercise his freedom of artistic expression was pretty much obliterated by Sawada himself.

Upon his arrest, the musician reportedly told police, “I think I was drunk, so I don’t remember at the time, and I don’t know what I did.” His lawyer would probably have a hard time getting out of this hole.

“You see, Your Honour, the Parisian artists of Montmartre believed that ‘happiness’ was not just a word; it was a way of life…”

Hopefully, in the end, something can be agreed between the parties involved to everyone’s satisfaction. May I suggest that the Payback Boys do free shows at nursing homes and kindergartens around Tokyo as a form of community service?

Source: NTV News, My Game News Flash
Top Image: YouTube/Silly Movie
Insert image: Pakutaso
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