727 Classic Review: Chester Watson- A Japanese Horror Film

Chester Watson faces his demons in the land of the living and the dead on “A Japanese Horror Film”, the first true concept album to be enshrined as a 727 Classic.


Chester Watson has delivered classic albums in the past such as “Tin Wooki” & “Past Cloaks”, but on “A Japanese Horror Film” the “Monotone Samurai” brings his bars and production to the next level by threading a story throughout the project.

The album starts off with the moody “Life Wrote Itself”. The Japanese instrumentation in the background of the beat is the perfect vibe to set the tone. Watson hits us with a barrage of bars over the hard hitting drums. At this point in the album Watson is still amongst the living but reflecting on the dead, as well as his roots from St.Louis to St.Pete.

During the “Transportation Interlude” Watson is greeted by a taxi driver that will bring him on his journey to the after life. After all seems normal but traveling between worlds is harder than one would think.

“Taxi Ghost” featuring Ria & Sima Itayim gives off chills with how eerie the backing vocals and the beat are. The listener is instantly transported to the land of the yokai, supernatural entities and spirits in Japanese folklore.

“Porcelain Geisha” featuring Fifi Rong, continues that ethereal vibe from the last track, with Watson soaking in his surroundings. The backing vocals add such a mood to this track. There’s a weird snarl sound in the beat that really ties everything together. At the end of the track Watson is greeted by the yokai as well as a mysterious entity that tells him of his past and future lives.

“Yokai” featuring Psymun, Kanisono, Fifi Rong, and Kent Loon,slows things down a bit with that chopped and screwed vibe. I really dig when the beat switches up a bit, sounding like a burst of light It’s pretty wild that Watson spits this whole verse slowed. Things take a dark turn towards the middle of the track with haunting laughs filling up the scene. Kent Loon, Psymun, and Kanisono make up the yokai.

“Witch Hunter” featuring K.Raydio is straight bars. Things start off slow on a production standpoint but then once Watson starts spitting things speed up. Hands down one of my favorite beats on the album, I love that broken down coo coo clock sound. This track could be a look at one of Watson’s past lives. Watson is torn between both sides when he stumbles upon Vyri the earth witch, who says he’s been poisoned by the others.

“Kushiro” featuring K.Raydio has Watson contemplating who he should trust in this unknown land. The backing vocals are almost calling to Watson on which path to choose. At the end of the track Viere, teaches Watson about astral projection, allowing him to walk between both worlds while remaining whole.

This track is on some low key street shit. Nü Age Syndicate brethren Kent Loon pops up on the hook talking that shit. Sima Itayim brings that energy on with the backing vocals as well, with loud howling adding to the beat.

“Teleportation” featuring K.Raydio features a low key jazzy beat in the background that is reminiscent to some Japanese New Wave shit. Viere returns to help Watson fully cross over into astral projection. He thinks of Atlantis and it’s calming waters.

“Nujabes” has Watson on his journey to Atlantis. Seemingly falling asleep in Japan, Watson has been transported to another realm. This track is an ode to producer Nujabes.

“Atlantic Interlude” puts Watson in a new world of Atlantis, in search for Qí the Empress of Atlantis. Watson is in awe of this underwater world, amazed with the architecture and scenery.

“Atlantis” featuring Salami Rose Joe Louis puts you right in the under water realm with Watson. Since Watson is in a familiar place, the vibe from the production and backing vocals has a cool, laid back vibe to it.

“Hypnagogic Interlude” featuring Manijanai portrays the scene of Watson speaking with a mermaid who continues him on his quest. Watson must again use astral projection but he must be careful, danger awaits.

“Ronin” is one of my favorite Watson tracks period. Bro goes full battle mode. Watson knows his destiny, harnessing the power need to complete his quest. That one bar “Up in New Jersey With Kent Loon” is my go to every listen.

Watson finally reaches his depths on “Sunken Place” featuring Max Wonders and Sima Itayim. This track is so dark, it feels like Watson is surrounded by shadows.

Watson makes it through the shadows and into the “Fog” where he meets Yume the witch of illusions played by Dua Saleh. This track has Watson on his introspective shit. Watson often looks himself in the mirror in many tracks but this one in particular. Are his thoughts foggy from to much weed smoke, or the outsiders in his life. I really dig when the beat has that chant sound kick in. One of my favorite Watson hooks to date.

The project closes out with the melancholic “Daydreams” featuring Dua Saleh once again. Despite what others say, Watson won’t let them effect his dreams. His path is already set for him, he just has to stay on track.

Possibly the first concept album in Tampa Bay Hip Hop history, the way Chester Watson is able to keep a cohesive story and theme going through the entire project deserves major props. Dealing with themes of astral projection and reincarnation, through the Japanese Ghost Story lens, gave a cinematic effect to this album that is rarely seen. Remaining as one of the pillars of St.Pete Hip Hop Chester Watson is slated to drop his next full length project “fish don’t climb trees” in 2023.