Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 5
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman alum’s ‘RAPtivism’ album spreads positive message worldwide

RAPtivism, a hip-hop album by Whitman alumna Aisha Fukushima ’09, has finally been released after years of traveling, recording and post-production.

Fukushima, who was able to produce the album thanks to her Watson Fellowship, traveled extensively in Africa, Europe and Asia. The fellowship awarded her $25,000, giving her the opportunity to collaborate with several artists and rappers around the globe.

Fukushima’s travels took her to places such as Copenhagen, Denmark, where she heard the story of Iraqi asylum-seekers living in the heart of the city. Fukushima noted that although she experienced different stories around the world, much of what she encountered was relatable.

“Lyrically, in the creative process, we really try to connect our struggles, because the deportation, the immigration debate, things that we talk about in that particular song, are something that people in the United States, as well as Denmark, as well as a number of other countries, people have experienced this,” said Fukushima.

While Fukushima’s travels took her to a variety of very different places, connecting her to a new “global family,” she felt a special connection with the people she met in South Africa.

“This was the first time in my life that I lived in a place where I actually blended in in some sense,” she said, mentioning that its history of apartheid and current cultural and political atmosphere were a special inspiration.

Fukushima’s wide array of influences and inspirations are present throughout the album, which mixes elements of various genres of music as well as different styles of hip-hop.

“A lot of it borrows from what we might think of as the American hip-hop aesthetic, but then we might hear traditional instruments, we might hear a certain kind of flow in the Wolof style,” said Fukushima, referring to her experiences in Senegal.

Fukushima also mentioned other musical influences, including Lupe Fiasco, about whom she wrote her thesis at Whitman, as well as Billie Holiday, Lauryn Hill and Ella Fitzgerald.

After an extensive post-production process, which culminated in mastering by Legion of Dume in Seattle, Fukushima released the album online. Her future plans include a speaking tour in Kazakhstan this summer, a TED talk in Alaska, and a workshop for youth in San Francisco, all the while spreading the message of RAPtivism.

“It’ll continue to go global as well as serve the local,” she said.

Fukushima recently attended a release party for the album, noting the positive response the album has received.

“There was so much positive energy in the room. I was, like, ‘Yes! This is what RAPtivism is about!'” said Fukushima.

The entire RAPtivism album can be downloaded for free (with an optional donation) at http://raptivism.bandcamp.com.

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