Rina Sawayama: The Savior Asian American Girls Need


Rosa Pyo

The Asian identity is fragment in popular culture. The stories, music, and culture have never been adequately told and how can it be when there are is such little representation. Just recently the Asian community has gained traction in the music industry with the K-pop group, BTS. This accomplishment of breaking through the metaphorical bamboo ceiling and rushing into the Western music scene is nothing short of spectacular, however what about the Asians from the West. Those who represent their own catalytic culture of East and West.

Introducing Rina Sawayama. Japanese born, London raised singer who tackles racism towards East Asian women in her music. Her very being within the music industry leads a path for more Asian artist. The arts lead by example so when Asians are represented, there are more to follow. Her music has been described as “90s R&B pop perfection. Very lounge. A little Solange. A smidge of peak-era Mariah” and who am I to disagree because the depiction is absolutely spot on. However, to add on, I hear splatters of St. Vincent vibes, especially in “Who?,‰” a song which vibrates with ethereal noise. The organs, pianos, her layered voice contributes to a cathartic cathedral experience.

My favorite song “Where U Are‰” is a rework of Jackson 5‰’s “I Wanna Be Where You Are.‰” The song depicts living in a technology driven world with such a the limited attention span and the connections we make online. The song‰’s beginning with the most amazing simple beat that continues to build up into the chorus with all those layered voices, floating through the air like tulle. Then the guitar rift plays modestly to highlight the best of her voice and the song. Bravo!

I listen to Rina‰’s music, look at her attitude, how she holds herself and can see a generation of East Asian American girls finally having a role model they so rightly deserve. Someone who understand being of two worlds and accepts every part of their being. The specific immigrant nuances we go through as children and even now in this split country. So I end with this quote “Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.‰Û

Rina’s Instagram