This week’s Hip Hapa Homee is a long-time acquaintance of Your Hip Hapa. I like to refer to her as The Marvelous Miwa Lyric because she really is something to marvel at. A clothing designer, music producer, performer, rapper, songwriter and more, Miwa is also immensely popular—especially in Los Angeles where she currently resides. We first met because of the proliferation of emails she sent me marketing herself. Surely, I thought, anyone believing so strongly in her own skills was well worth knowing. And, I was right. Friend the friendly Miwa Lyric on Facebook or MySpace. That’s her in the photo here taken by Suzisusana.
Q: What's a nice Nissei (second-generation Japanese American) girl like you doing rapping?
A: I don't really like to be categorized as nice, or categorized at all, cause I am not really "nice". I just love music and through my childhood struggles, music is the one thing that kept me alive, literally.
Q: When did you know for sure that you wanted a career in music?
A: At the age of five.
Q: How have black audiences responded to you compared to Asian or more racially mixed ones?
A: It's rather recent that I perform in front of Asian audiences. When I first started about 12 years ago, there were not many Asians in the audience or in hiphop in general. A lot of Asian women come up to me and tell me that I inspire them to chase after their dreams--knowing the odds of me being Asian and female in hiphop. A lot of black audiences usually give me a blank look when I approach the stage. Then, when I start, they just roar up with smiles and claps. It's always a good feeling! Overall, I get a lot of surprised reactions from everyone because most people think I'm gonna go up on stage to sing, then when I start rapping they just flip out.
Q: Lately, hiphop is everywhere. It may have started out with black gangs in New York, but now even Japanese Ainu (Indigenous) are rapping. Do you think the art form is played out because it’s no longer quote, unquote, pure?
A: I feel like hiphop that calls itself hiphop nowadays has lost its message of the struggle, the movement. It seems like the newer generations have forgotten the past and where hiphop and just history in general comes from. But then again, those who are passing it down need to educate the young ones as well. Me, being in between the new school and old school, I hope to connect that. I think the new music now is a new type of hiphop but it is definitely not the "real" or "original" hiphop that it used to be.
Q: You have such a huge following in L.A. Can you explain why your fans are so devoted to you?
A: Well first off, I am different--something new and, like I mentioned earlier, I was against all odds, which gives people hope that maybe they can go after what they always wanted to try (not just music, but everything in general) but were afraid to. But I think, overall, it’s because I speak from my heart. Everything I write about are things that I want to address because of my experiences and my own personal struggles. Many can relate and those who can't, see a new perspective. I feel that whether people love me or hate me, I bring words that people can ponder about.
Q: Recently, you've been appearing in Japan. How did it feel to perform for people who look like you, but who are so different at the same time?
A: It was an amazing and scary experience. Scary because I have always heard that they don't react like us Americans do, but I proved that wrong. They were bobbing their heads and had their hands up! They showed me that music definitely connects people worldwide!
Q: Your parents don't seem like typical Japanese parents because they allow you and your sister (a fashion designer) to fully express your art. Do you have any thoughts on that?
A: I guess since they are not typical I really wouldn't know what typical defines! But my folks are both artists, and they lived the times through the war. They’ve both seen different parts of the world (dad lived in New York, mom in England), and my dad struggled through poverty and losing his parents at a young age so he never got to go to high school. My mom was definitely a "new age woman", the type of lady that escapes the "norm" and how women shouldn’t be able to do what they want. My dad was always very supportive of my music, but my mom was not. She told me that I had to prove to her that I wanted it, and I proved it to her.
Indeed you have, Marvelous Miwa Lyric. For more info on Miwa, check out the sites below:
If you Hip Hapa Homeez haven’t already, you should check out the video below. Can you believe it? After all the information educating folks about the nonsense of being color struck, here comes this travesty. I feel like I was just transported back to the plantation or something.
Anyway, please keep your comments and emails coming. A special shout-out to my girl, Mary no-last-name-please, for continuing to stay so involved with this blog.
Remember to join our Hip Hapa Homeez group on Facebook and our Watermelon Sushi fan page, too. We’re also trying to tweet on Twitter as much as we can (honestly, we forget with all the things we have to do). And, we still have those t-shirts.
Until next week, I am…
Your Hip Hapa,