Dragon Ash is the group to bring rap and hip hop into the Japanese mainstream. The group, formed in 1997, has even coined a new genre in Japanese popular music: Mixture-kei. Their use of rap, hip hop, punk, rock, reggae, and Latin influences makes their music not only unique but they popularized hip hip in a country where little was being produced in the genre. Their lyrics are often positive and upbeat in comparison to today's American gangsta rap. The group has enjoyed some notoriety outside of Japan since the release of their song Shizukana Hibi no Kaidan o, which was the ending theme for the popular Japanese film Battle Royale. They continue to produce music and tour today.
Dragon Ash started out as a pseudo-punk band. The band was brought together in 1995 by then seventeen year old Kenji Furuya, son of actor Ikko Furuya. Furuya, and school friend drummer Makoto Sakurai, held auditions for band members and ended up hiring bassist Baba Ikuzo.
The band made their live debut in Kawasaki in 1996 and signed with Victor Entertainment in 1997. That year they were joined by DJ Bots, another school friend of Furuya’s and their moved sound away from punk to more mixture-kei (punk combined with hip hop).
The band’s breakthrough came with their maxi singles I Love Hip Hop and Grateful Days, released together in 1999. Grateful Days reached No.1 in the Oricon charts and remains their best loved hit.
In February 2003, it was announced that Dragon Ash with hip hop groups Mach 25 and Source were forming their own label, Mob Squad. Shortly afterward, Dragon Ash announced a new line up, which included Hiroki on guitar, and dancers Dri-V and Atsushi.
Kenji Furuya has also worked on several side projects in recent years, including being the frontman of Steady & Co., a hip hop and music production. Furuya has also collaborated with other Japanese hip hop artists.
Furuya is a devout Christian, and has been quoted as saying that the Bible is the most important book that exists in the world.