A Witch, Japanese "Hip-Hop" Star with American Feelings |  Gulf newspaper

A Witch, Japanese “Hip-Hop” Star with American Feelings | Gulf newspaper

The self-proclaimed queen of Japanese hip-hop A Witch has many stories to tell, from her exposure to American rap music as a rebellious teen in Okinawa, to her husband’s shooting death in the United States.
While its concerts in Japan attract large numbers of audiences, A-Witch wants to make its fans come to terms with their own experiences. “This step was the source of strength with which she faced the world,” she told AFP.
The 35-year-old singer, whose stage name means “Asian Child’s Wish”, began during her school life to perform “rap” and sang in nightclubs in Okinawa, in the far south of Japan.
A-Witch achieved notable successes this year by releasing its first album, “Quindom”, which was produced by a huge company, “Universal Music” – Japan. A Which attracted the attention of “Vogue” magazine, which conducted a photo shoot for her and performed a concert at the famous Nippon Budokan Hall in Tokyo.
The song that forms the title of the new album deals with her move to Atlanta when she was 19, her husband’s murder and their daughter’s upbringing in Japan.
She says: This song “represents the story of my life told in a few minutes, so it is a mixture of feelings that I feel every time I play it.”
On stage, A-Witch performs with great confidence and joy as her hair swept into a ponytail behind her back as she flaunted the “different energy” she brought into the music world of Japan.
The singer is active in support of the “Black Lives Matter” movement, and at the same time seeks to counter the stereotype of young Japanese women who are described as “cute”.
A-Witch, whose real name is Akiko Orasaki, was born to a father who works as a teacher and a mother who practices cooking, and she grew up between the prevailing spiritual values ​​in Okinawa and the American popular culture that entered Japan, due to the strong American military presence there at the time. As for the house she lived in during her childhood, it was old and spacious, and it was located next to a cemetery.
Her family suffered greatly as a result of World War II; Her grandfather told her how, during the difficult period after the end of the war, he would sneak into American bases to steal cans of soup and share them with the island’s poor.
“However, when you are a kid, you notice the colorful playgrounds on the bases that used to have open and friendly people,” says A Which. “We get mixed feelings about it. This is Okinawa, full of contradictions.”
The child rebel against reality spent whole nights writing. At the age of fourteen, she found a record of the American “rapper” Tupac, whose lyrics were a great source of inspiration for her.
Five years later, A Witch moved to Atlanta to complete her studies, where she married an African-American who was regularly imprisoned. After her husband was killed as a result of being shot, she became lost with their daughter Toyomi, who was barely three years old.
There were great difficulties in the return of A Witch and her daughter to Japan. The singer says she was feeling “anger and sadness” until her father explained to her that all Okinawans lost relatives and friends during the war, but that life had to go on.
“I felt that as an Okinawan woman I had to move forward, and I drew my strength from my parents and grandparents in Okinawa,” she says.
Toyomi, 14, performs a clip of “Tsubasa,” or “Wings,” which was released in May by A Witch to mark the 50th anniversary of Japan’s recapture of Okinawa after its occupation by the United States.
The singer wrote the song after the window of a US military helicopter fell in the school playground where her daughter was attending. “We want to be free and fly too,” the song’s lyrics read, referring to “shadows over our heads” and “noise blocking our conversations.”
A-Witch understands that life in a Japanese society where most people live homogeneously “can sometimes get difficult” for people of foreign origin.
“My daughter is Japanese and black at the same time,” she says. And when she was younger, she would ask questions that we both tried to answer,” adding that “all the templates and frameworks that we identified with in the past are now meaningless.”
She promises that a woman can be at the same time a “beautiful mother and woman, open and intelligent, creative and sexy,” and says, “A woman can have all these qualities at the same time.”

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