June 29, 2010

Artist of the Day: Dj Mitsu The Beats

In 2003, DJ Mitsu the Beats released his first, self-produced solo album New Awakening (Planetgroove), including fine cameos with artists from various places around the globe. The album showcases collaborations with Dwele, Little Brother, K-Otix, Lady Alma, Rich Medina, Mark De Clive Lowe, and many others. With the release of his first album, not to mention, the remix albums that followed, he has taken beat producing to higher levels, adjusting his sound scope for influences from all types of music. Mitsu delivers a vast range of musical genres, spanning from jazzy-soulful hip hop to broken beat to house and back to hip hop. He has found ways to bring these different genre’s together creating a very diverse repetoire that is certainly unique and one of a kind (Last.fm, 2010).

Mitsu The Beats: Transnational Soul

Twenty-eight-year-old DJ and producer Mitsu the Beats hails from Japan’s wilder northern climes (Sendai in the Miyagi prefecture)–think snow monkeys and hot springs, not bullet trains and the world’s largest city. Nonetheless, his ruthlessly smooth hip-hop is as metropolitan as it gets. Balancing an ear for hooks reminiscent of ‘93 with the boundless, borderless skills of Japanese MCs and occasional forays into broken beat, Mitsu is fast becoming a global talent.

Growing up on his father’s Japanese soul music and what he called “standard jazz,” Mitsu found hip-hop as a youngster through a Japanese TV program. “It always featured a dance battle with new jack swing-type music–artists like Heavy D,” he recalls. Mitsu was hooked, eventually becoming a battle DJ and teaming up with 2002’s DMC world champion DJ Kentaro. His horizons expanded even further when he met Taro Kesen of Jazzy Sport Production, who at the time was licensing tracks for the British label Laws of Motion. Mitsu developed a taste for the broken beats of West London and it was some of those DJs and producers, plus tastemakers like Michael Reinboth (Compost) and Patrick Forge (Kiss FM), who in turn began to champion Mitsu’s production.

Mitsu says that he follows the basic formula for making hip-hop (“Listening to records, sampling and adding dope beats to samples”), yet his New Awakening LP (Planet Groove) is anything but formulaic. From the shimmering guitar that rests beneath Rich Medina’s rap on “Do Right” to the restless rim shots and bass synth that push forward “Fly Away” with Lady Alma, it’s clear that Mitsu has a special talent for adapting his production to the differing strengths of vocalists. Mitsu’s collaboration with Dwele, “Right Here,” features delicate-but-earthy singing from the Detroit soul vocalist and an unforgettable sax sample over gritty hip-hop beats ‘n’ bass–it’s guaranteed to fill floors, though it’s been two years since it started its rounds on CD-R. And watch out when his Japanese cohorts (like Hunger from Mitsu’s hip-hop group G.A.G.L.E.) get on the mic, because their whip-crack, hard-edged consonants are the perfect compliment to Mitsu’s extra-crispy beats.

As the forthcoming Planet Groove album of remixes, a planned G.A.G.L.E. full-length, and new 12”s for Jazzy Sport will show, DJ Mitsu’s Sendai style can hold its own against anything from L.A. or London. Despite all this, Mitsu maintains a healthy perspective, adding modestly, “Me? I’m just a hip-hop producer" (Nicholson, 2005).

You can listen to Dj Mitsu The Beats' music at:

Released Albums:
Dj Mitsu The Beats - New Awakening
Dj Mitsu The Beats - A Word To The Wise
Dj Mitsu The Beats - Library Mixtape
Dj Mitsu The Beats - One More Roses Mixtape
Dj Mitsu The Beats - Another Roses Mixtape
Dj Mitsu The Beats - 28 Roses Mixtape
Dj Mitsu The Beats - The Excellence: Selected Works
Dj Mitsu The Beats - Self Titled Ep 1 and 2
Dj Mitsu The Beats - Blue Impressions Mixtape

Nicholson, P. (2005, March 16). Mitsu The Beats: Transnational Soul. XLR8R. Retrieved from

(2010). Dj Mitsu The Beats. Last.fm. Retrieved from http://www.last.fm/music/DJ+Mitsu+The+Beats

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