31-year old Akiko Urasaki, from Okinawa, raps under the name Awich, which is short for “Asian Wish Child”. She often bounces back and forth from Japanese to English, which she learned on the U.S. military base. She grew up going to protests with her parents that were against the United States military occupying Okinawa and started writing raps when she was 14 and she often incorporates indigenous Okinawan dialects. Awich signed with a record label in Tokyo a few years ago, but left when they told her that she couldn’t be political.
She first got into hip-hop by listening to Tupac’s “All Eyez On Me” and released her first EP, “Inner Research”, in 2006, right before moving to Atlanta for college. Awich later moved back to Japan and, in 2017, she put out a full length album on Yentown called “8” and performed live on Abema TV.
She also runs her own company, called Cipher City, which sells local Okinawan goods abroad. As it says on her Facebook page, “Her lyrics, positions, and perceptions turn both the positive and negative aspects of her surroundings — cultural fusions, identity crises, pride and shame — into an honest craft. This process, in turn, becomes a vital part of creating a modern Okinawan sense of space and identity”.
You can find her music on her website at awich.jp and you can follow her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.