Public not all that shocked by the news.

It’s often said that the four pillars of hip hop culture are rap, DJing, break dance, and graffiti, the last of which is easily the most controversial, challenging concepts of public space, freedom of expression, and the very nature of what defines “art.”

It’s only something like graffiti where one practitioner gets their work photographed 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 train car at about 2:00 a.m. on 25 March and notified police. Later on, more markings 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 is said to be roughly 80,000 yen (US$616).

The 42-year-old was said to have been on the way home from watching a concert and was intoxicated while writing on the 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.

▼ News report of the arrest which calls Sawada a “self-proclaimed rapper”

The label certainly didn’t elicit any sympathy from the public 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?”
“Sounds like he was rapped in the head a few times.”
“Who takes spray paint to a live show?”
“It’s hard being 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’s also a vocalist for the hardcore band Payback Boys.

While it’s fair to note that Sawada is a very active musician and not just some guy calling himself a rapper, that still doesn’t excuse the matter at hand. In fact, any conceivable defense that he was attempting 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 can’t remember back then, and I don’t know what I did.” His lawyer would likely have a hard time digging out of that hole.

“You see, Your Honor, the Parisian artists of Montmartre believed that ‘bonheur’ wasn’t just a word; it was a way of life…”

Hopefully, in the end something can be worked out between the parties involved to everyone’s satisfaction. Might I suggest having the Payback Boys do some free shows at retirement homes and kindergartens around Tokyo as a form of community service?

Source: NTV News, My Game News Flash
Top image: YouTube/kook film
Insert image: Pakutaso
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