500 Female Emcees: Meet Hime Holding Down Tradition

HimeHime hails from Japan and connected to famed Hip Hop icon DJ Honda.  She released her debut solo album Hime hajime in October 2003 which was notable because of  its use of Japanese cultural themes, including tanka metre and sampling of kabuki and bunraku narrations.

She has also been given props because her work  often touches upon themes of female empowerment. Hime  describes herself as the voice of the ‘Japanese doll. One example of the incorporation of traditional Japanese poetry and contemporary hip-hop can be heard in the song Tateba shakuyaku or Standing, she’s a peony

“this sound,
giri and ninjo
the spirit of harmony
will the surprise attack
come from the peony”

In the chorus of the song, as seen above, Hime writes in a thirty-one-syllable tanka

Hime’s embrace of the ancient form of poetry in her rapping, as well as her frequent use of Japanese cliche’s and traditional rhythms, show a trend in some Japanese hip hop to localize at the same time that they are embracing a global musical form. “Hime’s use of Japanese cliches is provocative in a club setting where the latest slang from MTV tends to be most valued”. Yet she also uses rhyme, something imported, since Japanese does not have much of a structure for rhyming.

At the same time that she is embracing aspects of Japanese culture into her hip hop, we also see how Hime presents herself. Often in her videos she is dressed in ways that are clearly taken from American, and specifically hip hop, culture as was the case when she appeared on the 2008 BET Hip Hop Awards.

Hime’s songs “Black List”, “Himehajime 2006”, “In The Rain”,and “Fuyajo” are featured in The Fast and the Furious video games.

Hime Ukina’


Hime ‘In the Rain’


Hime ‘Blacklist’