TOKiMONSTA's Future Beat
By: Danna Hawley
The beat scene in Los Angeles is heavily primed by Flying Lotus’ wondrous Brainfeeder label, with each
individual artist initiating their own blend of experimentation. Genre- and gender-bending producer/performer TOKiMONSTA (aka Jennifer Lee) does her part by feeding futuristic beat symphonies that hold the
full-bodied weight and warmth of vintage sounds.
Whimsical and intriguing, TOKi’s music goes beyond the obvious elements of most peers from her
electronic sphere, using intricate composition and instrumentation to take hip hop into an entirely new
color spectrum. And her live shows best display her finesse with improvisation, moving effortlessly through
playful rap vocals and atmospheric bass constructions.
Though she caught heads with various remixes, her work with Japanese rapper Shingo2 and her aptly
titled “Cosmic Intoxication” EP on Ramp Recordings last April, it was with her debut LP, Midnight Menu this
past August that TOKi’s sound took on a whole new face. Fusing scuzzy beats and layers of gleaming jazzinflected melodies with swaths of thick bass and sounds from the Eastern hemisphere (including a Korean
stringed instrument on “Sa Mo Jung” and Korean drums on “Lucid Waking”), the album was released on
Art Union, a small Japanese indie label.
DJ Times stopped in on the Korean-American producer/performer to find out what’s behind her unpredictable, nearly unclassifiable, yet beat-heavy music.
DJ Times: How did Midnight Menu come into the world?
Lee: It was recorded and produced at my house—all after the midnight hour. I really felt that these select
songs meant a lot to me and that they deserved the opportunity to mean something to others. As a first release,
I thought it would be best to present a variety of sounds and styles that all carried a similar undertone.