Dragon Ash (Katakana: ドラゴンアッシュ) is a Japanese rock group led by rap mogul Kenji Furuya. They are an icon in Japan and were one of the first groups to popularize hip hop in Japan. They brought a western flavor to Japanese music and helped to turn rap music mainstream, with a mixture of reggae, rap, rap-rock, punk, Spanish, and R&B influences. Some of their best known songs include Grateful Days, Life Goes On and I Love Hip Hop. The group uses various samples, most notably from the famous American alternative group, The Smashing Pumpkins: these songs include Cherub Rock in which they sample the bass line from The Smashing Pumpkins song by the same name, and Grateful Days in which they sample the opening of Today by The Smashing Pumpkins; they also named one of their songs "Siva", after the Pumpkins song.
Dragon Ash has gained some popularity outside Japan when the song Shizuka na Hibi no Kaidan Wo was used as the ending theme for the popular Japanese movie, Battle Royale.
Kenji Furuya has also worked on several side projects in recent years, including being the frontman of Steady & Co., a Japanese hip hop and music production group consisting of himself, BOTS, ILMARI of Rip Slyme, and SHIGEO of SBK (Skebo King). In addition to Steady & Co., Furuya has also collaborated with other Japanese hip hop artists on the Mob Squad album and subsequent label.
Kenji has stated in several interviews that the reason Dragon Ash started out as a pseudo-punk band was because, at the time, punk was popular in Japan, and his handlers felt that the hip hop image wouldn't sell. He has also noted that hip hop has always been first in his book, but he did what was necessary to become successful in the industry.