DTK’s To Kill For:

Born in Niigata, Japan in 1990, Rina Sawayama moved to London at the age of five with her parents. She attended a Japanese school, learning calligraphy and dance alongside the typical curriculum subjects. Her one of a kind background as a model, political science student at Cambridge and former member of a hip-hop music group contributes to intense perspectives and sounds to her debut.

           —By Marie-Ève Venne 

After showing great potential with her 2017 EP RINA, Rina Sawayama has returned with her debut full-length album SAWAYAMA, released this past April. The debut tells the 29-year-old Japanese-British songwriter’s story in heartfelt detail, combining musical genres with impeccable vocal deliveries and refreshingly honest lyricism.

Several record labels balked when they heard the debut single “STFU!” – an aggressive, explicit response to the racist and fetishistic comments she receives as a Japanese woman. The album was eventually released under The 1975’s record label Dirty Hit whose owner, Jamie Oborne, had no misgivings whatsoever.

rina sawayama

The album is full of thoughtful pop bangers like the dump-your-boyfriend stadium anthem “Who’s Gonna Save You Now?” and the glittering R&B bop “Love Me 4 Me.” Tracks like the bubblegum-pop “Paradising” may be a bit sickly for some, yet the fun-filled, nostalgic lookback at teenage relationships and your mum hacking your MSN still makes for an engaging track.

Overall, the album delivers a profound message of hope, forgiveness and growth, wrapped up in musical talent.  

Click here to discover more of DTK’s curated favourites.

Written on: July 2, 2020