Saykoji, Wheelsmith to speak on True Colors Festival hip-hop panel moderated by Jonzi D

‘This is Hip-Hop!’ will discuss cultural appropriation, diversity and other topics

Japan’s True Colors Festival has announced an international hip-hop panel, moderated by the UK’s Jonzi D, which will include Indonesian rapper Saykoji, Singapore’s Wheelsmith and Japanese trio Tamura King, among others.

Titled This is Hip-Hop!, the panel aims to address negative stereotypes about hip-hop by exploring its eight panelists’ personal experiences in the genre. Topics up for discussion include cultural appropriation, diversity and inclusivity, and hip-hop culture’s capacity for social change.

The panel will be moderated by British hip-hop dance and theatre practitioner Jonzi D, who is also the artistic director of ‘hip-hop theatre festival’ Breakin’ Convention. It will be live-streamed on September 26 at 10pm (Japanese Standard Time).

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Pre-register here to receive the livestream link. In keeping with the panel’s emphasis on accessibility, the English-language panel will have English and Japanese subtitles, with International and Japanese Sign Language interpretation.

The Asian representatives on This is Hip-Hop! are: Saykoji, a self-proclaimed “geek rapper” from Indonesia whose moniker plays on the childhood nickname he used to be taunted with; Danial Bawthan, the Singaporean rapper and beatboxer whose artist name Wheelsmith refers to his use of a wheelchair for his muscular dystrophy, and Ghanaian-Japanese sibling trio Tamura King, who hail from the Kanagawa Prefecture.

Also on the panel is American Sign Language interpreter Amber Galloway-Gallego, who has experienced viral fame thanks to videos of her live translation for rappers like Kendrick Lamar and Twista, as well as Canadian breakdancer Luca “Lazylegz” Patuelli. The latter, who has the muscle disorder Anthrogryposis, founded ILL-ABILITIES, a crew of differently abled dancers. 17-year-old American rapper Sparsh Shah, who has brittle bone disease and mixes Indian classical music with hip-hop in a blend he’s dubbed ‘Raga-rap’, will round out the panel.

This is Hip-Hop! will conclude with a specially commissioned freestyle dance ‘moment’ featuring 20 breakdancers from Jakarta, London, Tokyo and Singapore. They will perform to a track written for the segment by Wheelsmith.

True Colors Festival, which is organised by Japanese philanthropic non-profit The Nippon Foundation, has staged festivals across Asia from 2006. In June, the festival organised a collaborative cover of Ben E. King’s ‘Stand By Me’ performed remotely by nearly 50 artists across the world.

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