If you were going to describe Tohji’s aesthetic, you might call it slouch-core; the Japanese rapper is oft-draped in oversized hoodies and jeans three sizes too big. Still, his music is anything but baggy. It’s taut, electric electro rap in both English and Japanese, and it’s setting a fire under a generation coming out of lockdown.
Born in Yokohama and now based in Tokyo, Tohji has big ambitions. He’s already given himself some pretty big shoes to fill (“I’m the new, visual Beatles,” he said in an interview with The Fader last year) but even a cursory listen to his debut album, angel, is enough to confirm that he’s got the style and substance, as well as the stones, to make it, dipping from dreamy escapist beats to floor-rattling energy. With a sold-out Japanese tour and shows with Mura Masa, Gaika and Evian Christ under his belt, he’s already on his way.
And he’s not turning his back on his home country either. As an active member of the music scene in Tokyo, he’s working to make it more hospitable to independent artists. He collaborated with friends to create a party-slash-flea market to bring local creators and fans together and has more ideas up his sleeve to strengthen the local creative community. With another EP on the way this summer, and a world to dazzle with high energy live shows once it’s safe to do so, Tohji is coming.
Text Kate Solomon