HOPE SHINES ON, BUT JAPAN STILL NEEDS OUR HELP

Hip-hop music blog Word is Bond joins the global effort to support post-earthquake relief work in Japan with the compilation album Hope for Tomorrow.

Tokyo's unlit skyline on March 11.

As most people across Japan settled down for bed on March 11, a powerful 9.0-magnitude earthquake rocked the country. The images and stories of the tsunami and the nuclear disaster that followed are still almost too painful to comprehend five months later. According to recently released figures, 20,889 people are dead or missing and property damage amounts to $210 billion—and these are only estimates.

The other side to these terrible events is that countless governments, organizations, and individuals around the world quickly demonstrated a tremendous amount of support for Japan by sending much-needed relief supplies, workers, and funds. Musicians, both individually and collectively, have joined the efforts by organizing benefit concerts and releasing special albums, such as Hope for Tomorrow compiled by the hip-hop music blog Word is Bond.

Hope for Tomorrow was released within an impressive two weeks after the disasters and features tracks from nearly 40 independent hip-hop artists from eight countries, including Japan. Downtempo piano and other instrumental songs comprise most of the album, with also a sprinkling of rap, soul, and spoken word throughout. “Vespers” by Phish a.k.a Soundzimage, a French artist who maintains an elusive web presence, captures not only the spirit of the project but also the mood of many people in the earthquake’s aftermath: a deep sadness mingled with hope for the future.

Now offered free for digital download on Bandcamp, Hope for Tomorrow raised over $7000 for Japan’s disaster victims within four weeks of its release. Word is Bond encourages listeners who download the album to make a donation to an organization like the Red Cross in support of ongoing Japan relief activities. Japan still has much need for aid—both financial and in kind—especially with thousands of people displaced by the situation at the Fukushima nuclear complex and with basic public services in shambles in many places.

After Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005, people across Japan donated relief funds to the United States in a gesture similar to the benefit activities of the past five months. It takes the collective effort of the entire world to rebuild after a disaster of a magnitude such as Japan has experienced. And it shows that hope can shine on even despite seemingly impossible circumstances.

Tokyo skyline image by Evan Blaser. 

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