Awich, a frontrunner in Japanese hip-hop, EXCLUSIVELY talked to MeSlop about her Okinawan heritage and filming a music video on her dwelling island after dropping her first main label EP ‘Partition.’
With relentless stream and slick political commentary backing her repute, Awich was already one of many Japanese hip-hop business’s most well-known feminine artists when she dropped her new EP, Partition, on Aug. 21. Nevertheless, this EP is a serious milestone for the 33-year-old rapper, because it marks her first prolonged play launched by a serious label after not too long ago signing with Common Data. This new partnership can be a mirrored image of Awich’s rising reputation in America; in March of 2019, 88rising — a well-known Asian music collective and report label — featured her within the music group’s documentary, Asia Rising – The Subsequent Technology Of Hip Hop.
Regardless of a meteoric rise in success in each America and Japan, Awich is loyal to her roots: Okinawa. “I’m born and raised in Okinawa. Okinawa is an island that has been a goal of each fascination and discrimination amongst Japan and surrounding Asian nations for years for its tradition and transformations,” Awich — whose actual title is Akiko Urasaki — EXCLUSIVELY informed MeSlop.
The rapper has by no means shied away from speaking in regards to the political unrest related together with her dwelling prefecture. “It was a kingdom till [the] 19th century and went by many adjustments and now is part of Japan with many U.S. army bases,” Awich mentioned, referring to how the Ryukyu Kingdom was abolished when Okinawa was annexed by Japan in 1879, which grew to become managed by the US Civil Administration of the Ryukyu Islands after World Battle II, till the islands have been returned to Japan in 1972. To today, there are protests over the remaining American army bases; out of the 55,000 American troops stationed in Japan, 50 % of those army members are housed on Okinawa, The New York Instances reported in July.
Nevertheless, Awich doesn’t let these bits of darkish historical past overshadow the great thing about her place of birth, the place she returned to after attending school in Atlanta, Georgia. “I grew up loving the island. Liked enjoying within the water, jungles, and the streets and on army bases,” Awich continued. Okinawa was the birthplace of her creativity, as she added, “I began writing poetry once I was 9. I bear in mind once I was little I’d keep up all night time each night time to write down poems, diary and lyrics.”
Awich even places herself answerable for scouting places for initiatives shot in Okinawa! “Each time we shoot in Okinawa, my dwelling island, I do the placement looking myself. I really like this island. It’s my coronary heart,” she shared. “I used to supply movies and flicks too, so I do know a variety of locations and have a variety of concepts. I actually go to those totally different locations on the island myself and current the concepts to the administrators.”
One in all these Okinawa-based initiatives was Awich’s new music video for “Unhealthy Unhealthy” directed by Kento Yamada (Double Tokyo), which dropped on Aug. 12. From the prefecture’s stunning ocean to fort ruins, the video primarily provides a digital tour of Awich’s stomping grounds. The visuals hits additional near dwelling, actually, due to the neighborhood surrounding Awich on display screen. From the backup dancers to the group gathered round Awich, the rapper swore that everybody was all “actually [her] buddies!” She added, “You may see them in my different movies as properly.”
One in all these faces is just not her buddy, nonetheless; that will be her daughter! That is removed from her first music video cameo, nonetheless. “I all the time have my daughter in my video. She is in my movies for ‘Bear in mind,’ ‘Kamihikoki,’ ‘Ashes,’ ‘Gangsta.’ Each time I can have her in it, she’s there. You may see how a lot she’s grown since her first cameo in ‘Bear in mind,’” Awich mentioned, referring to the video for her 2017 monitor that includes YOUNG JUJU, which now boasts greater than 4.three million views on YouTube.
Whereas Awich by no means forgets the place she began, she can be wanting ahead to her new journey with an enormous report label — a transfer that a few of her earlier followers could not have anticipated. In 2014, Awich as soon as informed Vogue that she had signed to an enormous label in Tokyo however left as a result of “they didn’t let me rap about politics.” Explaining her choice to present one other huge label an opportunity, she informed MeSlop, “I shed my ego and gained extra compassion.”