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Hip-hop may have lost its way in the United States, stuck in a cul-de-sac of bling and booty cliches, but in other parts of the world it’s grown legs and started popping. No more so than among minority communities, who’ve seized the music and used it to give themselves the voice they never previously had. From Maori MCs to Arab-Israeli rappers, the global scene is ripe with examples of freshly emancipated hip-hoppers whose conviction and desire to make themselves heard presents a stark contrast with the lazy, tossed-off rubbish of, say, the last 50 Cent album.

Such acts exist in Japan, too, and you’ll find a few of them at Shake Forward! 2008. This innovative event, held in Osaka later this month and in Kawasaki in June, aims to promote dialogue about racial diversity in Japan, with the help of a bevy of multiracial and ethnic minority hip-hop and reggaeton artists.

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