black for life

Tokyo, Japan
12 / 2013

As fascinating and curious as mainstream culture can be – the cult of celebrity, global fads, etc – sometimes it is the underground, more obscure cults of fandom and expressions of identity that tell us the most about an era. B-Style in Tokyo is one such subculture and is characterized by its participants emulating the dress and actions of black American rappers – hence B-Style, short for "Black Lifestyle." From the outside, Japanese youth and African-Americans could not appear to be more antithetical – not only are the two countries separated geographically, but linguistically and culturally as well. What is perhaps most intriguing about B-Style is its rejection of Japanese anime culture, which is mostly demure, innocent, cartoonish, and pop. B-Style may be an intentional departure from the traditional or, since culture is cyclical, simply a natural phenomenon and perhaps even an outgrowth of a larger trend of international assimilation and appropriation.