Home MusicAlbum Reviews Awich’s “THE UNION”: The Ultimate Japanese Hip-Hop Powerhouse Album

Awich’s “THE UNION”: The Ultimate Japanese Hip-Hop Powerhouse Album

by Jonathan Currinn
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Photo Credit: Takashi Murata

Japanese sensation Awich has made waves once again with the release of her highly anticipated fifth studio album, “THE UNION”. This album marks a significant milestone in her career and sets the stage for her first-ever Japanese arena headline show scheduled for November 5, 2023, at K-Arena Yokohama. This acts as the follow-up to the “United Queens” EP.

“THE UNION” is a 12-track masterpiece that showcases Awich’s incredible talent and innovation in the world of hip-hop. It follows her previous album release, “Queendom”, released in early 2022, and the more recent “United Queens” EP – a collaborative effort that featured a stellar lineup of all-female artists.

The title track, “THE UNION”, not only serves as the album’s namesake but also embodies the central theme of the entire collection; so it’s not a surprise that she kickstarts the album with the track. It’s a great introductory track as Awich starts with fierce vocals wrapped around an addictive rhythm. Her flow is next level, and this track alone showcases why she’s one of the top Asian hip-hop artists in the world.

“RASEN in OKINAWA” follows next, which is a track that introduces a range of talented Okinawan rappers – Tsubaki, OZworld and CHICO CARLITO. It sees Awich keeping her flow, around a more worldly beat, while infusing hard emotion, showcasing how much this track means to her. Her collaborators match her rhythm and emotion but add their own statement to the track either by flipping the melody, unleashing incredible fast rap, or just stunning us with their vocals.

The third track is “Guerilla”, which has a progressive relaxed style with Awich’s hard-hitting vocals that make an impact. The chorus is a catchy chant segment that you can’t help but love, and the following verse includes harmonies that add awesome fire to the flaming hot track. The ending is a surprising harmonising segment that makes this track stand out for all the right reasons – this is one that probably sounds absolutely awesome live on stage. “Ali Baba” follows next which also features MFS and ralph. It’s a remix track that has an upbeat vibe with a tough flow and sees all three artists go all out!

Stand-out single “Bad Bitch Bigaku Remix” is the fifth track on “THE UNION” album and features an all-star cast including NENE (Yurufuwa Gang), LANA, MaRI, AI, and YURIYAN RETRIEVER. The single managed to chart at number 87 on the Japan Hot 100, and is currently Awich’s most popular song on Spotify, with 5.8 million streams. This collective completely brings it with fierce vocals, strong rap flow, and a constant rhythm backing beat that allows all six artists to shine. Full of female empowerment, proving women can rap just as well – if not better – than men, while showing that they are strong independent career-focused women. This is a track that will continue to make an impact for years to come.

Track six, “Call On Me”, blends R&B into Awich’s hip-hop style, broadening her global appeal with subtle ’00s influences and a catchy chorus. Following this is “Say It All 2”, produced by the influential Japanese music producer, KM. It’s a sequel to the single “Kuchi Ni Dashite”, featured on “Queendom”. This track maintains the ’00s R&B touch but introduces pop vibes and soulful vocals by Awich, making it a standout with its stripped-back production, nostalgic melody, and Awich’s emotive singing accompanied by occasional rap segments. Lyrically, “Say It All 2” delves into themes of love, desires, and communication with suggestive elements of oral sex woven into the narrative which transpires into not-so-suggestive oral sex lyrics.

The “Interlude” cuts in at track eight, which is mainly people talking in Japanese. It sounds like snippets from TV shows with white noise segmenting it. If Spotify lyrics are correct and depending on how accurate our Google translation of those lyrics is, we get this: “Even if it’s not a deer, I dare to say it / The more you put it out there, the more it will come true / meddling”, with the last lyric in English being, “Can you hear me?”. We find it suggestive of empowerment and working towards what you hope to achieve, with Awich being a shining example of just that.

“Burn Down” follows next, featuring GADORO, which starts with piano keys and an electric guitar, progressing into a slow-rap hip-hop track that we can’t help but love. As the song comes to an end, a child choir is added bringing a unique spin and allowing Awich to add vocal runs and even more soulful vibes. Track ten is “Kakurembo”, bringing versatility to the mix as Awich completely shines as she lays down pop vocals with a catchy melody and an unforgettable rhythm. This showcases her exceptional artistry and superb talent, once again proving why she’s quickly rising as a global superstar.

The 11th track is “Twinkle Stars”, which is a collaboration with STUTS and features BIM. Making an impact from the start, we get some slow R&B beats with prominent piano keys and a subtle guitar rhythm, as Awich stuns hitting perfect vocal notes touching on the occasional falsetto as she pours her heart and soul into the track. STUTS and BIM surprise by throwing out rhythmic rap that is a huge contrast to Awich’s vocals, but somehow works nonetheless. This chorus is top-tier and one we will remember for some time.

“Wait For Me” is the final track on “THE UNION” album, ending with a completely stripped-back R&B-pop track with slow rap verses and just a piano to accompany her incredible voice. Clearly an important track, the lyrics touch upon her story and her life and how positivity has fuelled her to become who she is today, with an amazing support group behind her. It’s a heartfelt number that blends Japanese with English in a beautiful sentimental ending that is sure to touch listeners’ hearts.

Awich has long been a dominant force in the Japanese hip-hop scene and is now poised to make a significant impact on the international stage. Her talents have not gone unnoticed, as Consequence has declared her “ready to break through to America”, and AllHipHop has hailed her as the “queen of Japanese Hip-Hop”.

Awich, which is short for “Asian Wish Child”, and is derived from the Japanese characters in her birth name “Akiko”, embodies her cultural roots and she has a deep connection to her home island of Okinawa. Her journey in music began at the age of 13 when she first heard Tupac’s “All Eyez on Me”. Her path led her to the United States, where she studied in Atlanta, started a family, and ultimately returned to Japan, emerging as a “badass female rapper”, as described by Flaunt Magazine.

Following the release of “THE UNION”, Awich has set her sights on conquering the English-speaking music scene with an album slated for early 2024. Her ambitions also include a series of US tours, promising more exciting developments for fans worldwide.

On top of the release of this album, Awich is set to perform her first arena show on November 5, 2023, at the K-Arena Yokohama. which will also see guest performances from CHICO CARLITO, OZworld, Ritto, SugLawd Familiar, Tsubaki, CYBER RUI, LANA, MaRI, MFS, NENE, BIM, DOGMA, GADORO, JP THE WAVY, YURIYAN RETRIEVER, Chinza DOPENESS, KEIJU, STUTS, ¥ellow Bucks, and YZERR. This is super iconic as it is her first headline arena show and will see her perform just one day after international stars Def Leppard & Mötley Crüe co-headline “The World Tour” at K-Arena Yokohama for their only two-date shows in Asia.

“THE UNION” is a testament to Awich’s dedication and passion for her craft, and it solidifies her position as one of the most influential Japanese figures in the global hip-hop landscape. Fans can expect more groundbreaking music and captivating performances from this remarkable artist in the years to come, especially with her forthcoming English-language project.

“THE UNION”, by Awich, is available to download and stream, right now, across all platforms, via music inc. (And Music), Empire, and Sony Music Entertainment Japan.

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