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Music » Sound Stories & Interviews

Huge in Japan: Lafa Taylor is looking to make waves in his homeland

Just a few of the many Lafa Taylor fans pack the legendary budokan Arena in tokyo. Watch out Cheap Trick...Lafa Taylor is big in Japan.


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Just a few of the many Lafa Taylor fans pack the legendary budokan Arena in tokyo. Watch out Cheap Trick...Lafa Taylor is big in Japan. He's seriously really big - the guy is 6 feet 5 inches tall, and when he had an afro, he was even bigger, making him tower over the average Japanese citizen.

But in terms of musical popularity, Taylor is also huge in Japan. The Eugene-reared-but-now-living-in-Portland-as-of-last-week hip-hopper traveled to Japan a few years ago and was embraced by a duo called Def Tech known for their Jawaiian (if you guessed that this is a combination of Japanese and Hawaiian styles, you're right) reggae vibes. Before Taylor knew it he'd become, well, kind of famous.

"I went over there about three years ago and didn't know anyone. I sold my car, bought a plane ticket and headed over there with 300 CDs," Taylor says. "I basically just went out on the streets and tried to make my way into the performing circuit."

After falling in with Def Tech, Taylor made a couple more return trips to Japan to perform with the group and suddenly Def Tech had become one of the top acts in the country, selling loads of CDs and playing extensive tours, including a two-night stand at the storied Budokan arena to nearly 10,000 fans. For Taylor, who is only 22 years old the success seemed to build before his eyes.

"It's been really cool being able to start at a grass-roots level and then see it all catapult into this huge enterprise and have [Def Tech] become a household name," Taylor said.

While getting all huge and popular in Japan is well and good, Taylor realizes there's also something to be said about reaching out to fans in his homeland. He seems to doing something right in the Northwest, considering the buzz he's generated within the hip-hop, reggae, and jam communities.

"The Japan thing has been amazing and I'll continue to do that. I speak a little Japanese, but it's very limited. So I'm excited to really focus over here because I can communicate with the people.

"I think there's a chance the music will take off," he says.

In speaking with Lafa Taylor, it's easy to catch on to the notion that the guy is never quite satisfied. As if making a name across the Pacific while still basically a kid wasn't enough, Taylor is making some waves with his clothing line (Vibration Clothing) while working on a graphic design career. And he's doing it all while overseeing his own music label. And oh yeah, he's still playing shows around the region, including a stop at the Summit Saloon and Stage on Saturday night, to spread the word about his reggae-infused hip-hop style. Kind of makes you feel lazy about your own day-to-day routine, doesn't it?

So we've learned that Taylor does well when he jumps on board with Def Tech over in Japan, but what about the opposite - what would happen if those dudes came stateside. Taylor has to think about if for a second.

"Well, J-Pop definitely rules the music scene over there and Def Tech has some of that," he says, prompting me to quickly inquire as to what the hell J-Pop might be.

"It's basically pop music - kind of cheesy pop. But if those guys brought their reggae and hip-hop more forward, I think they could do well," Taylor guesses.

We'll keep an eye out for the Def Tech mainland debut, but for now, we're fine with Taylor, our native Oregonian - you know, the guy who's huge in Japan.

Lafa Taylor

9pm Saturday March 8. Summit Saloon and Stage. 152 NW Oregon Ave., 749-2240. $6. 21 and over.


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