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The Curious World of Yabujin

Hip hop is one of those genres that can spawn many different subgenres and unique artists that are all doing completely different things from each other. There are numerous examples of this in the mainstream. Artists like Yeat, Travis Scott, Drake, and Eminem are all doing vastly different things than each other, and each have their own distinct styles, yet they all operate within the same genre. These are just the mainstream examples, though. If you listen to underground artists, you start to get into artists like Yung Lean, Bladee, Summrs, Kankan, and xaviersobased. Even these artists will occasionally get mainstream recognition, despite being considered “underground”. Yung Lean and Bladee have both modeled for a merch line sold by Playboi Carti, and Lean was even featured on the song “PARASAIL” off of the recent Travis Scott record, Utopia

So, with this, you may be wondering about other artists who are perhaps more niche than these. This is where we truly are off the beaten path. For this story, I will be focusing on a legendary underground artist named Yabujin.

Yabujin is a game developer, visual artist, producer, singer, and rapper. He is famous for making very lo-fi, laid back rap songs with a sort of early-2000s aesthetic to them, which evokes feelings of nostalgia for the time when the internet was in its infancy. However, while Yabujin is often branded as a rapper, he has made many other songs as well. 

Yabujin has made songs that exist in a very specific genre of hyperpop music, called “hardstyle”. These songs usually consist of instrumentals with hard 808s, buzzing synths, heavy bass, distortion, and often digitally altered, otherworldly vocals that give the songs a vibe you cannot quite find anywhere else. 

The most prominent example of Yabujin dabbling in this sound is one of his most popular songs, “Chalice of Mind”. This song features hard 808 kicks and claps, high-pitched synths, and even higher pitched vocals, which give the song a mesmerizing quality. There is, what sounds like, a thick layer of distortion and autotune on the vocals as well, which further adds to this effect. The songs lyrics contain vaguely heartbroken lyrics, which are very abstract and hard to deconstruct, given the lack of any sort of context to Yabujin’s music. This song, like many others that he released, were later deleted, and subsequently reuploaded to the internet by fans.

Now seems like an appropriate time to discuss Yabujin as an artist. For better or for worse, we don’t really know much about Yabujin as a person. We know that Yabujin is a Lithuanian who appears to be in their 20s, but not much else. He seems to be a fan of early 2000s internet aesthetics, and PS2/Nintendo Gamecube era video games, as much of this aesthetic is present in their visual art, and various music videos. Yabujin also has a tendency to sample soundtracks of niche Japanese video games, such as on the song “FLASH CASANOVA”, where he samples a 2002 visual novel game called “My Merry May”. Specifically, he samples a song titled “LEASE” by the Japanese composer Takeshi Abo. 

Yabujin also possesses several tattoos. One of the most famous of which being a depiction of the flag of North Korea on his chest. This isn’t the only time the Yabujin brand has made references to the DPRK, as there are multiple compilations of his songs floating around on platforms like YouTube, Spotify, and Soundcloud, titled “DPRK Jamz”. 

At this point, you may be reading this, and thinking that this rabbit hole has gone pretty deep. But believe it or not, this story goes even deeper.

Yabujin has established lore behind his online presence and art as well. The way he established this was through his “Azeroy” series, released on Youtube in several installments. The first of which was uploaded to Youtube in late 2018, and the last of which was released in December of 2021. The video series tells a fantastical story of sorts, which introduces the concept of “Azeroy” to the audience. This is a concept that Yabujin came up with, which is supposedly a mysterious, mystical place in which the fictional characters exist. This series also contains what the Yabujin fanbase refer to as “Azeroyska.” This is an entire language that was created by Yabujin for the purposes of this series and his music. This is an entirely original creation, with even letters being included, so that people may write in the language as well. Unfortunately, most of the translations from Azeroyska to English, or even Lithuanian, are unknown to the public. When the language is spoken in the Azeroy web series, there are English subtitles. The language is left ambiguous to this day. 

Yabujin is a rather mysterious artist, who seems to want to stay in the underground world of music. However, in his efforts to stay underground, he ended up deleting his whole body of work. There were, seemingly, many factors that led to his disappearance from the music world, including a rumored doxxing involving personal information of his and his family being leaked by overzealous fans, as well as Yabujin becoming increasingly frustrated with his songs being popularized on TikTok. In January of 2023, this led to Yabujin deleting almost the entirety of his online presence from the internet, save for a few spare SoundCloud accounts which he will be active on from time to time, not posting any new music.

Yabujin is without a doubt, one of the most experimental, genre-bending, and mysterious artists to ever come from the underground hip hop scene. He created art that was unlike anything people had seen before and left the internet before his creations could become mainstream. While he hasn’t been active in a long time at this point, he maintains a relatively active fanbase to this day, that yearns for him to make a return to music making. For the time being, though, it seems that Yabujin is content with what he has accomplished, and has decided to go on with his life, living outside the spotlight, and leaving a legacy that is truly one of the most unique in modern music. 

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Collin Greer
Collin Greer, Lion's Roar Staff

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