TOKYO’S REVENGE is brilliant.
When fellow loveinamovie writer Simon Navarrate first put me onto “Clark Kent” back in 2019, I was quick to dismiss Tokyo as another soundcloud rapper trying to follow in X’s shoes. His breakout track “GOODMORNINGTOKYO!” showed the same tenacity as the Members Only collective back in 2016, but that was never really my scene to begin with. So back in September when Tokyo released the seven track project 7VEN and Simon inevitably pushed me to go listen to it, I did so mostly out of boredom.
What I found was far from what I had expected. Anyone familiar with Tokyo’s discography could tell you that his stylistic range extends far beyond his most popular trap songs; 7VEN was a project that kept me guessing at each turn. The opening tracks “GOTHAM” and “BULLETPROOF” are loaded with Cliiifford’s raw 808s and feature the same explosive style that Tokyo has developed to the point of near perfection. “SINNER PT.3” abruptly changes the tone by abandoning his rapping for a surprisingly capable singing voice. When I listen to the rise and fall of the big, luscious synths on this track, I can’t help but hear the influence of EDM artists such as Seven Lions or Said the Sky. Following this is “DEADMANSWONDERLAND” – my favourite TOKYO’S REVENGE song to date. This track brings the listener back into the realm of hip-hop and flaunts Tokyo’s lyrical talent over a dark instrumental; the first verse especially features impressive rhyme stacking and hard bars.
New Draco from Korea, the green is growing like Chia Pet You gon' see this K pop, there ain't gon' be no BTS
On “HELL BENT”, Tokyo teams up with The Kid LAROI to deliver a sweet, emo-trap lullaby that would leave any Juice WRLD fan happy and satisfied. The final track “we made an anime opening” switches gears one last time into an MGK-style punk rock instrumental layered with Tokyo’s high-pitched vocals.
The frequent changes in production on this project are so jarring that it’s hard to believe the producers remained the same throughout. However, this genre fluidity becomes less surprising after listening to MDNGHT (SIDE B) (2019) and finding the same experimental approach. I have a lot of respect for Tokyo because he doesn’t cater his music to his fans; refusing to stick to one genre shows that he’s willing to create whatever kind of music he likes without stressing over what the public expects from him. It’s kind of saddening how fans who only know of his harder songs are barely scratching the surface of his ability and completely overlooking the rest of his discography (as I did). Furthermore, watching his Genius video and reading his interviews gives me the impression that he is a lot smarter than some of the other rappers his age. For one, he refuses to reveal his hometown in order to avoid being boxed into categories like “the South Florida scene” or “Chicago rap”. Tokyo has also said that he intentionally mixes and masters his songs to be harsh and distorted in order to properly express the emotions he felt while making the songs; these “director’s cuts” usually end up on Soundcloud but his streaming services content has been diminished in order to appeal to people with “normal eardrums”. “GOODMORNINGTOKYO” features clever contrasts in both delivery and volume in order to emphasize certain phrases (“N*gga don’t like me kill me right now/Otherwise n*gga pipe down”) or switch up the mood (“Good morning! My name is Tokyo”). Furthermore, the track is expectedly filled with South Florida flows but Tokyo also draws upon the influence of a dated Jay-Z song in order to create one of the verses. Top it off with a condemnation of homophobia and a deep love for anime (he showed up at the xxl interview with a fucking Totoro backpack), it’s almost impossible not to like him.
At the end of the day, I’m not sure exactly if it was the artist or the music that won me over but ultimately I was converted from an apathetic listener to an avid fan. I am very excited to see what he’ll come up with next.
Listen to “DEADMANSWONDERLAND” here: