Producer spotlight on Kevinnottingham.com
Tokyo Cigar is a unique individual. Residing in a variety of locations in life, Tokyo has experience things many have not. His unconventional path has translated into his work as a producer. Bringing a distinct style to hip hop, Tokyo is pushing boundaries and creating a impressive catalog of material. With remix albums and original compositions under his belt, Tokyo Cigar is destined for success. Fresh off his impressive collaboration album with Cyclops, Tokyo has even more planned for 2010. Here’s your chance to get to know the man and get a preview of what to expect in the coming year.
Where you reppin:
Maryland, by way of Dublin Ireland, Virginia…. you know what it’s a long story. Bump “Chase the Wind” from the Plexiglass Fountain album to hear the details.
The world’s flyest bum haha. Producer/MC, a member of The Plexiglass Fountain with my man Cyclops. I’m just an everyday cat that is obsessed with music. Kind of a bugged out individual that just expresses himself through music type dude.
Why the name Tokyo Cigar?
It breaks down to burning trees. Say it fast five times and it sounds like “toke your cigar” get ya toke on ha ha. I’ve always been into Japanese culture, from Martial Arts to Anime growing up so it kinda fit. That’s why my alter ego is named Akira Parker too. I mean cats were watching Voltron before we knew it was anime so it’s kinda the thing that a lot of Hip hop heads were into.
Who are your musical inspirations?
“RZA is like a god to me” is my personal slogan ha ha. 4th Disciple, Primo, Portishead, Prince Paul, Trent Reznor, shit anything really. I grew up around a lot of different music just from traveling and also being around my sisters. Shit my oldest sister is into everything from Bob Marley and Buju Banton to Celine Dion. My little sister is a metal/industrial fan and my niece plays the violin so I’m always around wild different types of music so I soak it all in and do my thing.
What’s your equipment setup?
Just a computer from Best Buy, a M audio Oxygen 8 my boy Skamatic gave me, Fruity loops 3 and FL studio 7
For readers who’ve never checked out your material before, what past works do they need to know about?
The 7 year theory. That’s a snapshot of my production over a 7 year period. A lot of collabs with the old crew and remixes I did over the years. It’s got verses from Mic Terror from Stronghold. We linked on some cool shit when he came through with Poison Pen and Immortal Technique. The 9 diagram Phoenix which is a remix album I did for Wu-Tang. A lot of love went into making that joint cause Wu is the greatest of all time to me. The Black Departure which is a Black Album remix I did based around the movie the Departed. God Son’s Tokyo Drift is the remix album I did for Nas.
Of course the main thing is The Plexiglass Fountain album Left of the Scenery that’s the main gem outta all the stuff I’ve done.
You just put out Left of the Scenery with Cyclops, what else is in the works for you?
I’m working with the dude Ohini Jonez. We got some heat coming up. I’m excited about that cause he’s a real individual type cat. He got his own vision and he can mesh with mine well. I gave him some abstract experimental ill shit and he was down to lace it. I’m working with Rasheed Chappell. We formed this joint called Connect Thoughts. That sound is more heavy boom bap hip hop. Rasheed is a sick MC. Very witty and intelligent and he got an ill voice. So shit i gave him is some crazy hard shit. I got a joint called The IVY League project with my man Camillo who’s a poet that’s out on the west coast. It’s straight Electronica type shit. I’m on the beats and he does some spoken word. I’m trying to get with a singer with an ill voice and make some next level shit though that’s a goal of mine. Also early next year Me and Cyclops are gonna drop a free Plexiglass Fountain EP. That shit is gonna be the companion piece to the album. That shit is gonna be crazy. We elevating the sound we gave heads on the album for the EP. Cyclops is collaborating with some producers for his “Oceans” album. I got a track on there too and when he finishes that I’m gonna produce a solo album for him too.
I can’t wait to hear all those projects. Let’s stick with Plexiglass Fountain for a second. How did the group come together?
We linked up on Myspace. You know how cats be like “check out my page.” Well I checked out his page and heard his rhymes and was like “yo this kid is mean with the pen game.” I sent him a message and he hit me back like “thanks man”. A while passed and he hit me up and bought a beat off me. He recorded to it and shot a video for it so I was like “damn dude is nice, he willing to invest in himself AND his work ethic is crazy” so I was like I can work with son. I’ve always been a dude that likes being in a group cause I hate any solo spotlight. I like to share the shine with heads and dude was just too ILL with the rhymes so we built about it and I came up with the name and we talked and came up with the concept of the album and it jumped off. We recorded a song called “Marsha Brady” to test out the vibe and it wound up sounding good. So we were like “fuck it lets do an album”
Now the concepts & sounds on this album are on another level. Was it a decision before you started making the album to push it this far or did it just happen organically?
Yeah it was. I remember stacking up the tracks and getting ready to send em to Cyclops like “Yo fam I hope you see my vision with this.” I just wanted to make something where you could only get the particular sound from us. A few of the beats were a couple of years old and they were actually beats I was saving for my solo album but once we started working on the album, I pretty much deaded my solo to use the beats for this album. So the vision was for originality and trying to put my personality in the music. It’s like if you meet me, you gonna be like “Yo he’s a cool dude but he’s weird” and I wanted to translate that into the beats on the album ha ha
Haha, it definitely comes through on the album. Now you’re obviously known for your skill on the boards but you rhymed plenty on the album too. Earlier this year, you did The Cave Kingz EP w/ GC where you strictly were on the mic. What went into that decision? Can we expect more music from The Cave Kingz?
Oh yeah GC is my boy. I been known son for YEARS. We used to chill at his crib, make beats, rhymes, watch Newsradio, burn mad izm, hit the chinese food spot up the block from his crib. I know his family type shit, so that’s fam. It’s funny cause we used to be in a crew that was like nine deep and another cat that was in the crew was Cidida Dabbage who was the most recent freestyle champ on 106 and park. Funny shit. I was talking to GC the other day like “damn son we used to be like the young Super friends” ha ha. We lost contact for a few then linked up again online. He asked me to do some shit and it was a no brainer. The Cave Kingz joint ain’t nothing for me to do cause we did so many tracks together coming up so it was like routine for me. 2010, I’m gonna do a Cave Kingz album with fam. I also really wanna do a new Black Tobacco album with Dutch Masters. Me and son linked up on the site and did the Snares and Cinema album. Dude is one of the BEST producers I’ve heard in my life. Dude is a beast on production. I had mad fun making that album too. I’m also working with the young homie Razorsharpe and Cenzo from Germany did some joints too. I love to rhyme on other cats tracks too. That’s just the MC side in me.
If you had to pick one song that defines your career up to this date, what would it be?
I guess to get all philosophical, it would have to be the remix of “My 1st Song” off the Black Departure just because of what he was rhyming about and the general feeling of the beat with the Kill Bill sample being all majestic and shit. Sorta some “damn kid you came a long way” type feeling. Back in 96, I remember having to decide weather I was gonna stay in Europe or go to America and I remember that “Politics as Usual” by Jay was possibly the one thing that fully made me decide to go back to America. Like that song had me on some “Yo fam you gotta go see what you ain’t see in life yet” ha ha. So when i made that remix and listened to it it was like an a realization like DING DING DING now it all makes sense. WOW!!! ha ha
If you were stranded on a desert island and could only have one album to listen to, what would it be?
Oh you know what it is already – ONLY BUILT 4 CUBAN LINX 1. That album is what albums are supposed to sound like. I always tell cats that the best movie of 1995 was Cuban Linx. From the songs to the skits to the album cover. That joint was a visionary masterpiece. Plus it has arguably the best verse in hip hop (Nas on Verbal Intercourse)
Any shout outs or last words?
Peace to all my music nerds. All my dudes that can talk your ear off about drum programming and flipping sounds. Mad love to the whole KN staff (Whut up to my main man Thomas), The Nottinghammers (GC, Dutch, Flames, Cenzo, Isbjerg, s.t.t.r.e.s.s. etc.), all people that support the kid and listen (Thank you).