Two weeks after dropping the video for his song, “Still Brazy,” YG returns with the video for “Word is Bond,” featuring Slim 400. Not only is it a vivid, adventurous trip to Tokyo, it includes some memorable plain-English translations of his lyrics.
A standard English and Japanese translation to YG’s West Coast slang shows the globalization of both American and Japanese pop culture. Japan has a large, underground hip-hop scene that is often overlooked, with a long list of great rappers whose names should be well-known in both Japan as well as the United States. (Furthermore, one of the biggest critiques of hip-hop music is that the broader public — i.e., olds and lame-o’s — don’t understand what the artists are saying.)
YG has found the solution by including subtitles in the video — ridding the ridiculous notion that rappers don’t speak English.
For example, while YG raps this:
“My homie got that pack and that’s what it is. If you ain’t trying spend that hot box, then that’s what it is.”
It’s displayed as this on the screen, presumably for karaoke, or maybe just people who aren’t up on Compton-specific slang, as this:
“My friend has drugs and that’s the truth, if you don’t want to spend a high amount of money on them, then that’s OK.”
Even if you understand what YG is saying, it’s worth watching “Word is Bond” one more time to focus on the English subtitles.
The video was shot during YG’s trip to Japan to perform at the Public Labo Block Party last spring. It was directed by 2 Tone of the streetwear brand, Born x Raised, which collaborated with YG for his Born x Krazy collection. Many of the shots in the video are from the Born x Krazy promo video cut together with new footage of YG and Slim 400 performing their G-Funk sound on the Tokyo streets.
Photos via Getty Images / Christopher Polk