Tampa-based hip-hop artist Mixed Miyagi shares his connection to his cultural roots, what inspires his music, and how he’s amplifying unheard voices.
Mixed Miyagi has made a name for himself in the Tampa Bay scene by expressing his passion for social justice, cultural awareness, lyricism, and clever wordplay through his music.
“I try to make my music and gear it towards the people that I think should get more attention. So, black people, Asians, people that are going through depression or whatnot,” says Miyagi. ”So I like to just be a voice for people because, when you hear a song, like, oh, that relates to me so much. I want other people to have that feeling.”
When Miyagi sits down to create the music, he is creating for the underrepresented. That is how he’s made a name for himself as an artist – through his ability to capture his cultural roots and bridge unity through his work.
As a biracial immigrant, he holds his Nigerian and Vietnamese roots close to his heart. Hence the meaning behind his name. He says Miyagi, one-half of his artist name, gives homage to his Asian roots. While “Mixed,” the other half, is due to his biracial identity.
His most viewed music video today, titled Việt Nam Xin Chào, which is a nod to his hometown, has garnered over 800,000 views on YouTube. He received praise for his talents and for embracing his Vietnamese roots. This is the musical artistry of rap that he continues to inspire the world with.
Miyagi, who came to the United States when he was 10 months old, says the day he landed in the US was symbolic. He was symbolically welcomed to the US with fireworks to celebrate and commemorate the end of 1999 and the start of the year 2000.
“It was a dope day for my mom and me because we actually landed in the US on the day of the millennium,” says Miyagi.
That day, in hindsight, represented that this was the place that he was meant to be, and he continued to experience this feeling over the course of his life.
Miyagi’s passion for music started at a young age. Ever since he was in grade school, he turned to poetic raps.
“Me expressing myself through words has always been a natural talent,” says Miyagi.
Ironically, his AP teacher, who assigned his class a final project where they had to write a rap, eventually sparked his pursuit of becoming an artist. He made his project into something that would set an example for students to follow. In a sense, this was his breakthrough moment, where he decided to take his craft more seriously.
“After graduating in high school, I just started evolving more my craft, started having more time for it, more money to invest into it,” says Miyagi.
He first started his career solely creating music in English but realized that his bilingualism – his Vietnamese native tongue, was something that made him unique. Though he was initially hesitant to take that leap, he felt this was the real version of his truth.
His initial hesitation to rap in Vietnamese came from the lack of representation of Vietnamese rappers. But he ignited his inspiration to start rapping in Vietnamese from YouTube videos he found of Vietnamese rappers showcasing their crafts. And once he decided to take that leap, the rest was history– and he describes this version of himself as authentic.
Miyagi says the genre of hip hop, which has its roots in Brooklyn, New York, has a deeply rooted history.
“So, there’s emceeing, there’s DJ, there’s graffiti, and there’s breakdancing,” says Mixed Miyagi. But all of that was literally just like an outlet for people to express themselves because they were being oppressed.”
And he carries this “artform of rebellion,” as described by music producer The Ani-Me’, as a message in his music. The “art form of rebellion” is representative of the heart and pain felt by the voices behind the music. And this is where Miyagi gets his drive and determination.
“I love to speak for people that don’t have a voice,” says Miyagi. “I feel like that’s the most important because ain’t no one hearing them.”
This is where is creative process comes into play. He lets the song’s essence take the front seat and follows up with lyrics that feel right to him.
“I listen to the beats, so the beats write the song,” says Miyagi.
Now, Mixed Miyagi, finding his sound and identity as a biracial artist, is looking to inspire others by showing the importance of creating unity between cultures.
“So, at the end of the day, I literally see the viewpoint of both sides,” says Miyagi. That’s why it’s easy for me to be like, alright, come on, let’s just understand each other and get along because the divide between black people and Africans is vast.”
This inspires him to connect cultures, create unity, and keep creating music that feels authentic to him.