A native of Sendai in the north-eastern Tohoku region of Japan, DJ Mitsu The Beats cut his teeth as a hip-hop battle DJ, perfecting his technique with countless hours of practice before eventually hooking up with his home town homeboy DJ Kentaro (2002 DMC World Champion). At the turn of the millennium Mitsu formed the hip-hop group GAGLE with his younger brother MC Hunger & DJ Mu-R, taking beat production duties & serving as ‘side MC’. The group burst onto the Japanese hip-hop scene with their debut EP Bust The Facts on Next Level Recording & have since recorded four full length albums, the latter three – 2005’s Big Bang Theory, 2007’s 3 Peat & 2009’s Slow But Steady – for major label Columbia Music Entertainment.
Having turned heads internationally with his world class productions for GAGLE, Mitsu teamed up with Tokyo-based Jazzy Sport Productions to conceive a debut solo album featuring collaborations with likeminded artists from across the globe & the musical spectrum, including American rappers Phonte & Big Pooh from Little Brother, neo soul artists Dwele from Detroit & Lady Alma from Philadelphia, & New Zealand’s own globetrotting keyboard king Mark de Clive-Lowe. The resulting record, New Awakening, released by PlanetGroove in 2003, explored hip-hop, soul & uptempo club sounds, earning the respect of Mitsu’s hip-hop heroes Pete Rock & DJ Spinna & airplay from tastemaking DJs including the BBC’s Gilles Peterson & Benji B. Two volumes of remixes were commissioned from artists as diverse as Waajeed from Platinum Pied Pipers, Sa-Ra Creative Partners, Rich Medina & Phil Asher, & fellow rising Japanese stars Grooveman Spot & Breakthrough.
The success of his debut album opened further doors offshore for DJ Mitsu The Beats, with remix & production work flooding in & invitations to perform overseas at events like Gilles Peterson’s Worldwide Festival in Sète, France. One of only a handful of Japanese DJs making waves outside their homeland, Mitsu’s supreme DJ skills have been flexed in clubs worldwide & on mix CDs for Blue Note Records, BBE & the excellent Extra Feeding & Sound Maneuvers series out of Japan (the latter alongside his GAGLE DJ partner Mu-R).
In 2009, DJ Mitsu The Beats returned with his second solo album A Word To The Wise, another international affair boasting guest spots by Elzhi from Slum Village, Black Spade, Stones Throw artists Wildchild & Georgia Ann Muldrow, & Gilles Peterson’s Brownswood Recordings jazz signing Jose James. Korean MCs Dynamic Duo also featured, as did a repeat appearance from Mark de Clive-Lowe, a frequent visitor to Japan.
Just a year after releasing of A Word To The Wise, Mitsu released his third solo album Universal Force in August 2010, featuring only Japanese MCs & singers including Hunger from GAGLE & female rapper-cum-r&b-singer Coma-Chi. This has been another busy year for DJ Mitsu The Beats, who always reps hard for Japan at home and abroad.
In 2014 Mitsu released ‘Celebration of Jay’ a homage to J-Dilla which reached international aclaim. A 20 track re-working of J’s work. Hear Mitsu explain in his own words:
“The intension of this album is not to imitate, but to present myself while reflecting on how his influence has helped me to find my own style. This is a dedication of my style to him, which would not have been possible without his influence. I will continue to respect him. Thank you Jay Dee / Jay Dilla.”
DJ Mitsu The Beats