Nearly every day on my way home from work, I pass by Manhattan Records, a Tokyo institution of 30 years that mostly Hip-Hop, R&B, Soul, and House. After passing Ultra Shibuya, Hi-Fi Records, several Disk Unions, Tower Records, an HMV, Discland Jaro, Next Records, Mother’s Records, and a couple of Face Records, Manhattan Records is the last record shop on my way out of Shibuya on Inokashira Dori, the road that leads me all the way back home. By the time I’m rolling up on Manhattan, I’ve usually photographed a record collector or two on the way at one of the aforementioned shops, and I end up in front of Manhattan just as they are closing their awesomely graffitied shutters for the day. Inasmuch, there are seldom customers at that late hour and I’m always a little regretful because it’s a rather under-represented record shop, clientele, and genre line-up on Tokyo Record Style, that would no doubt boost the project’s HipHop, Soul, R&B, and House credentials. Luckily on this particular day, at the usual late hour, Towa pictured here, was checking out with some nice scores.

25-year-old Towa, originally from Nagasaki, was quick to agree to chat and pose for some photos and told me that he was relatively new to vinyl records, having less than a dozen titles. When he showed me the records that he would be adding to his modest collection, I was almost as happy for him as he was for himself. On this night, he had become the proud new owner of a Nujabes record yet to be featured on TRS (though many other Nujabes records have been) as well as some Destiny Child’s Dance Remixes and, YES, Childish Gambino’s masterpiece “Awaken, My Love!” – I need to add this record to MY OWN collection! Towa was a character and when he told me that he was a hairdresser at a salon in hip Harajuku, I got the impression he had a streak of celebrity stylist in him, if not already, one on the way.

After Towa shared with me the initial 3 records he scored, he produced another from a bag that he’d forgotten about, and one that I had never heard of, VaVa’s “VVorld.” When I reluctantly admitted my ignorance about it, Towa reprimanded me “You don’t know VaVa?! You gotta check him out! He’s amazing! This record is fantastic!” Ok, Ok, now I was curious and as soon as I had a moment to dig into VaVa, (very little English info out there about him), I not only discovered very expressive and musical, seemingly underground, Japanese Hip-Hop artists, I also found a short “2019 VVORLD Tour Documentary” on Youtube that followed Vava and his squad of about 7 other emcees, DJs, and Beatmakers from the Summit label on a Japan tour filled with PACKED audiences that seemed to know every word of every bar he rattled off on stage in scenes that looked like the 8-mile rap battles. “How come I don’t already know Vava?” was the thought that came to mind. Really enjoyed what I found and I’ll look forward to finding more!

Thanks, Towa for the friendly chat at for turning me on to some new music! Good luck at the Salon and see ya around!

More Tokyo Record Style on the way!

Nujabes – Modal Soul
Label: Hyde Out Productions – HOLP-004
Format: 2 x Vinyl, LP, Album, Reissue
Country: Japan
Released: Feb 26, 2020
Genre: Electronic, Hip Hop, Jazz
Style: Jazzy Hip-Hop, Downtempo, Cool Jazz

Destiny’s Child – Survivor (Dance Mixes)
Label:Columbia – 44 79566
Format: Vinyl, 12″
Country: US
Released: 2001
Genre: Electronic, Hip Hop, Funk / Soul
Style: House, Contemporary R&B

Childish Gambino – Awaken, My Love!
Label: Glassnote (2) – GLS-0221-01
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album, Reissue
Country: Europe
Released: 2022
Genre: Funk / Soul
Style: Contemporary R&B, Funk, Neo Soul, Psychedelic

VaVa – VVorld
Label: Summit (13) – XQMV-1013
Format: 2 x CD, Album (LP not on Discogs)
Country: Japan
Released: Feb 20, 2019
Genre: Hip Hop

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