Jennifer Lee, better known as the Korean avant-garde hip hop sensation TOKiMONSTA is making waves in an ocean which is still being charted on maps as we speak. “Toki” meaning “rabbit” in Korean, and “monsta” being the aggressive entity from which the unique juxtaposition of the two words form when placed together create this enticing “ying-yang” balance that encompasses this young producer’s music and personality. Amusingly enough, the first hip hop record Ms. Lee bought was Coolio’s “Gangsta’s Paradise” amongst a circle of friends who hadn’t caught onto the hip hop movement at the time. Toki eventually got involved in the “beat cipher’s” in her community where she grew up in the suburbs of Los Angeles, California. This is where she met fellow musical revolutionary Steven Ellis, also known as Flying Lotus, the founder of the Brainfeeder music label. Brainfeeder hosts such acts like Gaslamp Killer, Daedelus, and now Mr. Oizo and Tokimonsta, just to name a few.
To add some unique flavor to her sounds, Tokimonsta employs a variety of production techniques into her engaging and encompassing brand of psychedelic hip hop. The music is heavily textured and it rarely relies on vocalists, but when she does occasionally collaborate with vocals, the vocalists are exclusively female. Getting back to production, you can hear everything from live instrumentation, and sampling field recordings, dusty vinyl records, and even recording analogue synths with a microphone and bringing them back into a software program like Ableton Live. Many other producers, usually tend to use the instruments inside Live and complement them with a barrage of audio effects, not really feeling the need to dig for records or seek out antiquated hardware synths.
“Creature Dreams EP” released on May 17, 2011 is a warm, woozy piece of music which highlights Toki’s ways of being nocturnal and making her music in the bewitching hours of 2am-7am. The EP itself is very nocturnal in nature, with emphasis on warm sounding ambient textures blended with cut-up loops and unquantanized drums to make a truly relaxing cohesion of work. The nature of this record, along with many of Tokimonsta’s musical excursions are naturally psychedelic on the outside, but monsterously captivating on the inside. The beats are warm, bouncy and punchy, like those weird dreams you have where you remember them the morning after waking up. Metaphorically speaking the name “Tokimonsta” which used to serve as this young Korean girl’s screenname serves as one of those at-first seemingly stupid names which takes on more meaning as the entity behind it develops. Some select cuts from the record include Bright Shadows, Stigmatizing Sex, Little Pleasures and Darkest (Dim) which accompany the hauntingly beautiful vocals of Gavin Turek. Keep dreaming, this excellent Brainfeeder release should assist you in your aural adventures of the mind and body.
Tokimonsta- Stigmatizing Sex (fan made video)
Tokimonsta- Little Pleasures f/ Gavin Turek (Album Version)