We’re back with our regular dose of new Japanese music and March has really brought the goods. From much-anticipated releases via established artists such as Awich and South Penguin to exciting new tracks from buzz-worthy newcomers like valknee, we’ve rounded up 16 of our favorite new tracks which you can listen to here with some special mentions for you to check out below.
Awich – Queendom
Queendom is the latest album from Okinawa-born hip-hop artist, Awich. Known for her punchy and melodic use of Okinawan, Japanese and English lyrics, Awich (short for Asian Wish Child), has released four albums since her debut in 2006, with her latest album marking her first through a major label. The title track from the new album chronicles the tragic romance she experienced in Atlanta at a young age before returning to Japan as a single mother and her triumphant return to the music scene in 2017.
South Penguin – gadja
South Penguin, the musical project of Japanese artist Akatsuka, continues its experimental and collaborative direction on the new album R. Since becoming a solo project in 2017, Akatsuka has diversified the project’s style, with R largely drawing on elements of math and prog rock as well as Latin rhythms, hip-hop, jazz and funk. The most recent single from the album, “gadja,” is a collaboration with hip-hop trio Dos Monos who add their verses to a groove-laden track that leaves you wanting more.
DOPING PANDA – Imagine
After a ten-year hiatus, Japanese dance-rock legends, DOPING PANDA have returned with a new full-length album and reunion tour. Debuting in the early 2000s, DOPING PANDA were front-runners in the Japanese dance-rock scene, releasing six albums and touring relentlessly until announcing their disbandment at a performance at Tokyo Dome in 2011. The new album is a return to their party-centric indie and dance-rock sound, benefitting from a decade of progression in recording and mastering technology with a decidedly more polished sound than previous releases. The single “Imagine” combines a rolling drum beat, hooky riff and earnest vocal delivery to achieve a timeless dance-rock track.
valknee – Scrapbook
Prolific hip-hop artist valknee adds to her already substantial body of work with her latest release, the three-track EP SPRING2022..u_u..vV. In addition to an active solo career, valknee has maintained industry attention since her debut in 2019, providing music to artists such as popular idol group Lyrical School and forming the female hip-hop collective Zoomgals with contemporaries such as ASOBOiSM and Namichie. The latest release features two new tracks, the catchy “Scrapbook” and “Luvbug” as well as a remix of her 2021 single, “LIP LACQUER.”
Toko Miura – 私は貴方
Toko Miura, perhaps best known for her role as Misaki Watari in the Oscar-winning film Drive My Car and lending vocals to the Radwimps-produced soundtrack to Weathering With You, could be teasing a third album with her second single in six months, “Watashi wa Anata.” Miura’s delicate vocals compliment the bitter-sweet lyrics and minimalist arrangement provided by Tondenhey from hip-hop group Odd Foot Works on the new track and, if her recent collaborations are anything to go by, any forthcoming full-length releases will be something to look forward to.