Japanese Artist "Night The Funksta" talks 80's Chicano Culture's Spread to Japan

Founding member Homeboy Mad of Souleros Ball, a Chican@ event in the Bay Area for the lowrider and old school Chican@ enthusiasts, interviews Japonero artist "Night Tha Funksta" whose art is inspired by 80's Chican@. This story was first published in the Teen Angels issue #234.

In a time when most young Chicanos have forgotten where they come from, it is almost impossible to imagine our cultura popping off on the other side of the planet. La Movida Lives! And more so now than ever. For most, low-riding and cholismo began and ended during the 90's Gangster Rap era, but the stilo has been here for almost a century now. In Califaz, La Movida is currently making an attempt to revive the O/G stilo that changed the world during the 70's and 80's. In Japan, La Movida has taken on a whole new boulevard, inspiring Japanese low-riders, record collectors and artists to do the same.

The Chicano scene in Japone cracked off over 30 years ago. Japone’s history can be classified in 3 eras. The 1st initial get down started by a small group of Japanese who loved US culture, custom cars and music. These individuals are now considered world renowned veterans and are still low-riding the calles of Japone til this day. Mr. Shin Miyata took a visit to East Los during the early 80's in search of the sacred Chicanada of varrio life and lived with a Chicano family. Mr. Shin Miyata is also a bonnerue Soulero who is in contact with author and collector, Ruben Molina. Shin Miyata now runs his own label "Barrio Gold Records", distributing Chicano rolas to the Japanese market such as Malo, Sapo, The Mixtures and Chicano Batman.

Japone's 2nd and most influential era was inspired by Chicano Rap groups like L.S.O.B, Kid Frost, Mellow Man Ace and Slow Pain during the 90's. This is what blew up on interest of just a few into an actual Chicano scene in Japan. Japone's current 3rd era is more alive than ever with consistent Chicano Rap Concerts, Low-rider Car Shows and Oldies Dances similar to the Souleros Ball. T.D.E night, Japone's equivalent to the Souleros Ball is held by DJ Paco, a Japanese Low-rider Oldies record collector. Japone is also filled with original and US Car Clubs with la pleve de Japone taking on the stilo made famous during the Gangster Rap era here in Califaz.

Night tha Funksta, a 30-year-old artist in Japan changes the game. Night's hunger to grasp the roots of low-riding and cholismo, kicked off his art series Lost Angels. Inspired by the lost art of two angels, the O/G Teen Angel himself and “El Angel” Diaz de Oaklone. The veterano style consists of classic toons yet depicting varrio life in an honest day to day get down. As mothers, fathers, youth, tattoo artists, low-riders and homeboys seeking an end to varrio warfare. As the O/G Teen Angel once put it, Unidos Rifamos.

Back To Basics drawing by Night The Funksta

As Night explains, “The art is not realistic but real!”. Night continues, “I like pinta arte, placasos and Chicano murals too, it’s bad! In Japanese, we call that kind of feeling Inatai, HetaUma, and DasaKakkoii. I think of Teen Angel and El Angel's work as being something in between Fine Art and Street Art. But Teen Angel's style has gradually been lost. El Angel and a few other artists have inherited the O/G toon style and are keeping it alive. Me too, I want to inherit it and show my love and respect for Chicano Culture.”

“My first encounter with Chicano Culture was Chicano Rap. But I am now more interested in everything, including it's roots. Chicano Culture has a firme style. History, food, manners, customs, Calo, the arte, the cholo and chuco style, ranflas, the spirit of carnalismo and family first, love for your varrio and Chicanismo. Simon homes!”, says Night the Funksta.

Speaking up on varrio warfare and his love for his Japanese roots and our roots as Chicanos, “I am aware that Chicano youth gangs are deeply embedded in some of these elements. Unfortunately, some Japanese youth have an admiration of the gangs, disregarding the culture. There is not much violence here in Japan but there is that bad attitude. But most of us love the positive side of Chicano culture. Since we have a language barrier, there are some things I can't exactly recognize in your culture. I'm not Chicano but I learned about Chicanos from movies, books, music and art. I used to dress like a cholo but I don't any more because I am not Chicano and I still want to embrace my Japanese heritage. I want to show that I have a strong passion for Chicano culture without looking like a wannabee. I have a deep respect and love for the veterano cholo style from the 70's and 80's just as I do with the Samurai and Kimono, you know the veterano style from Japan. Lol. These are forgotten styles and histories. To me it's all the same, tracing back our roots.”

Rifando La Movida, Night says, “I was inspired by the flicka of Soulera and the homegirls at the Hammer and Lewis premier of Teen Angels Magazine in San Jo, Califaz during January, 2014. I drew it and included it in my art series, Lost Angels and titled the arte, La Movida Por Vida. When I saw the flickas, I was amazed by La Movida, Souleros Ball and the homeboys and homegirls! The pompadours, feathered hair, biscuits and hair nets. At a first glance, I didn't realize that they were recent flickas. At the same time, I am so glad that there are Chicanos that still care about the old school style and that there is a movement to bring it back the old school style and sound all over the world. I'm down with La Movida, a worldwide movement to bring back the Old School style and sound!


Drawing by Night The Funksta

 A lot of people today, including Japan think that the cholo, Chicano and low-rider style came from LA. But Mr. Shin Miyata and other veterans in Japan have been recognizing it came from several varrios, and have been educating the younger generation to spread it. San Jo, the Bay Area, East Los, SD, San Anto and Chuco Town in Tejas are all equal Meccas in Chicano culture. I was surprised to hear that the homegirls at the Hammer y Lewis Teen Angels premier were all from the Bay Area. I want to recognize Chicano culture and convey it correctly here in Japan, so I included the homegirls placasos and their cities in my art piece. Nona de San Jo, Gata Mas Firme de Santa Rosa, Flaca de HWD and Soulera de Fremonte. I also hope for an end to gang violence, drugs, and wish for a Raza Unida between Norte y Sur because Chicanos have a firme culture!”

Night the Funksta's sends a dedica to los “Dos Angels” Teen Angel and El Angel, and “La Movida” in his art series Lost Angels. Before we end this firme story, Night the Funksta would like to also say:

From Japone to Aztlan! Somos pocos pero locos! Dig deep inside! La Movida spreads Worldwide! The World is a Varrio! Que Siga La Movida! Thank you Teen Angels Magazine and La Raza Chicana!

This article is part of the categories: Arts & Culture  / Community  / Fashion  / San Jose//South Bay  / Story 
This article is part of the tags: Chicanos  / Japone  / Los Japonera  / Night Tha Funksta  / Shin Miyata  / Teen Angels 


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