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Henrike Ott_Akkogorilla

She named her first album “Tokyo Banana”, used samples of the soundtrack of the Super Nintendo game Donkey Kong Country in her song “Donkey Kong”, and by now it has not become unusual for her fans to bring bananas to her concerts in order to hold them up during the show. This sounds crazy at first but Akkogorilla does far more than rapping about monkeys. First and foremost, the Japanese frequently questions what normalcy actually means and advocates for female empowerment as well as breaking gender roles. 

Akkogorilla (あっこゴリラ), born in 1988 in Tokyo, has already discovered Hip-Hop at the age of ten for herself. Groups such as RIP SLYME and Kick the Can Crew have quickly inspired her to write her own lyrics. Already then, she has liked testing out different rhythms and rhyme schemes but she did not want to rap in front of other people. Instead, while she was working as a radio and TV reporter, she became the drummer of the female pop/rock band Happy Birthday in 2011 and named herself Akko (あっこ), an alteration of her last name Akiko. The band remained for four years before they split up. However, Akko has found pleasure in performing live and being a musician. Thus, she decided to continue her career as a solo artist and attached the word Gorilla (ゴリラ) to her artist’s name because she has been fascinated by how gorillas communicate with each other through rhythms since her childhood days. With her new name, she has managed to build a completely new image of herself with which she has made a name for herself in the Japanese Battle Rap scene shortly thereafter. In January 2017, she achieved her greatest success: The victory in the first Japanese battle for women, the Cinderella MCBattle. In parallel with the battles but also afterwards, she has continuously released albums and EPs. 

To define normalcy is a challenge that Akkogorilla takes up in her releases again and again. Hence, she questions gender stereotypes and advocates for female empowerment in her songs, for example, in “GRRRLISM”. According to her, taking position is important, as one can infer from her recurring feminists statements, “Feminism is not a thought but a way of thinking.” 

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Besides her music, she was part of the #NoBagForMe project which addressed the availability of female hygiene products. Moreover, she held lectures on “Gender Theory in Contemporary Cultural Activities” at Rikkyo University. Since this did not seem to be enough for her, she has started a new project as recently as this year: In July 2020, Akkogorilla founded the Zoomgals. The crew consisting of Valknee, Taijima Haruko, Namichie, ASOBOiSM and Marukido alongside Akkogorilla released their first song and announced something big for next year. 

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