Music, Writings and Art live from the twisted mind of Tokyo Cigar

Archive for January, 2011


Here it is folks. The saga continues. This album is something ILL to me because the way Me and Keb0 combined styles on it was insane. The kid really stepped up his whole aura for this joint so i had to drop some heavy production to match. Seeing the whole process from the demo to the completion was crazy. I burned a lot of trees to the finished product for sure. Plus listen to “Deja Vu” and remember what i said in the last post about it. See if i was wilding out or not.


Here’s some pics from the album release performance that the homie Keb0 did. They were playing the ad on the radio and all that round his way. The support for the album has been great as hell.

Felt ( Slug & Murs ) x Tokyo Cigar: Felt 3.0 ( A tribute to Nancy Sinatra )

Yeah this one came up outta nowhere. The homie Nick hit me off with the vocals from Felt 3 and i sat on them for a minute while i worked on the ‘CoExist” and “codename: DEVASTATOR” albums. This joint came together quick as hell. Before i realized what was going on it was pretty much done. I gotta admit i love this shit. Nancy Sinatra had a lot of incredible music. Using her samples gave this project a crazy feel. Some of this stuff comes off a perfect soundtrack for the winter but there are also joints here that would set the summer off too. The reaction to this has been CRAZY. Thats whats really good.

“We love how Murs and Slug always pay tribute to a special lady with their collaborative, and terribly slept-on FELT albums. Deejay/producer Tokyo Cigar jumped in, and paid tribute to FELT with Nancy Sinatra with a new mix. These are amazing, spooky productions from the voice known by fans of RZA, Quentin Tarantino and simply dope ’60s music. This is more than just a blend tape, these are really elegant productions that anybody can appreciate”

Felt, the duo of L.A. rapper Murs and Minneapolis MC Slug (one half of Atmosphere), has dedicated each of their excellent albums to a female celebrity—their first three records were named for Christina Ricci, Lisa Bonnet and Rosie Perez, respectively—though the title choice has no tangible bearing on the record’s sound. But over the holidays DJ Tokyo Cigar released the free mashup record Felt 3.0 (A tribute to Nancy Sinatra), which, you guessed it, consists of the album Felt 3: A Tribute to Rosie Perez remixed with samples from Nancy Sinatra songs, and somehow it’s kind of great.”

“I am a big fan of Slug (of Atmosphere) and pretty much everything he touches. It’s only natural then that I love Felt, the collaboration between Murs of Living Legends and Slug himself.

Tokyo Cigar recently took Felt 3: A Tribute to Rosie Perez and remixed it, adding numerous samples of Nancy Sinatra’s music. The result is a very intriguing and eerie remix album that oddly enough seems to perfectly suit Felt’s style.

Ghostface Killah “Apollo Kids” remix

Ghost did the damn thing AGAIN with the “Apollo Kids” album so i got so hype i decided to remix the original “Apollo Kids” track from the seminal “Supreme Clientele” album. Some straight gutter boom bap for that ass.

Tokyo Cigar Thoughts:Terriers ( Season 1 )

What does Socrates have in common with Columbo? The science of the bummy genius. Those people that can break down complex things about human behavior and easily figure out the motives of others but don’t care about the basics of dressing themselves presentably for the public eye. Socrates was considered the greatest of all the philosophers to walk the earth ( check Inspecktah Decks opening bars of “Triumph” to see how far Socrates influence reached ) but he lived his life in poverty, dressed very plain and walked the streets of Athens barefoot. Columbo deduced many crimes on his show but the character was as famous for his rumpled appearance as he was for his detective skills.

What the fuck does that have to do with Terriers? The show carries on that tradition. The two main Characters Hank and Britt solve crimes and help people in Ocean Beach but between the both of them seem Incapable of mastering the art of shaving or popping tags. One of the people in the show sees Hank and says “You know I thought you were undercover but now I realize you just dress like that” Wit like that drives this show to be one of my current favorites on TV.

Hank is a recovering alcoholic ex cop and Britt is a thief that Hank catches but eventually sees the good in. They both start a private investigation agency and combine their streetwise natures to help the people that hire them. Sure, shows like “White Collar” ( another favorite of mine ) have explored the idea of crook and cop working together but while that show is more high society this one is more gritty. Consider this show the Frank Miller’s“The Dark Knight Returns” to that shows Alan Moore’s “Watchmen” both exploring the non pretty side of heroes but placed in different settings and with differing levels of darkness and grit. One theme that runs through the season is Hank and Britt’s relationships with the women in their lives. Hank has to watch ( not idly mind you, he goes all out to stop her wedding any way he can ) as his ex wife Gretchen moves on even though he still has strong feelings for her while Britt deals with the fact his love of his lady Katie scares him ( mainly the thought of settling down and growing up ) as much as it keeps him going. Hank also deals with the relationship between him and his sister Stephanie. A mentally unstable genius whom he feels especially attached to when post divorce he finds her secretly living in his attic. Her companionship filling a void left by his ex wife.

Now as the good guys, these dudes don’t believe in the straight and narrow. They frame somebody for revenge when they cant legally prove him guilty, they break into buildings, sneak in and out of the border and at one point ( maybe two ) Britt becomes a fugitive. These aren’t your typical dashing, morally upstanding citizens more two guys raised on the age old practice of ”kicking ass and taking names” Along the way they meet various members of Ocean Beaches underbelly and even find themselves neck deep in issues with a Mexican kingpin. Old friends and foes pop up to threaten the little semblance of normalcy they try to build and the biggest obstacles they tend to face are their own penchants for self destruction. But DAMN, They stay saying slick shit. This is one of those shows that has dialogue so ILL that you find yourself laughing at what the characters say as much as worrying about them. One episode finds them pretending to be thugs shaking down a tarot card reader for protection money in order to draw out her fugitive boyfriend. They threaten to trash her place if she doesn’t pay when they come back. When they show up her boyfriend, her VERY FUCKING BIG boyfriend kicks their asses up and down her living room, knocking over all her furniture and after he throws both of them out the window Britt says “Well we did say we would trash the place” I bust my ass laughing.

I cant recommend this show enough. The first season kept me hooked and when ever I missed an episode I would catch it online even though I hate watching TV shows online ( I don’t know why that shit just irks me. If its a TV show I like to watch it on TV damnit ) The season ended up on a very crazy cliffhanger that had me going “REALLY?!? How the fuck they gonna end it like that?” But best believe I will be tuning in as soon as it comes back. This show is great and I bet if you ask Socrates or Columbo about it they would say the same thing.


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My write up about the Kanye West album.

[Review] Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy – Written By Tokyo Cigar

Some albums are just meant to inspire debate. Those albums are usually the ones that set the bar of what will be considered the “Next shit”. The debate aspect comes from the fact that said album challenges the comfort zone of the genre that it comes out in. This is that type of album. The universal outlook on this piece of art (make no mistake kids, this is ART) has been glowing. As it should be. Being a producer myself I look at things differently than what a person that is simply a fan would. This is because I have more of an idea of the work that goes into it. [cont.]

One thing I always love is when I can hear that said artist bust his/her ass to make the album. It’s sort of an unwritten code that only other producers can decipher. The chick in the club shaking her ass to her latest favorite jam (you know her, the chick that rushes the floor screaming “That’s my song” when she hears the opening bars leak through the speakers) can appreciate the song for what it is but the producer’s that stay up for nights straight working on a beat until it fits the vision they had will look at the same song differently. Noting little details like how Runaway uses the same drum break that leads into The Basement from Pete Rock and CL Smooth‘s seminal Mecca and the Soul Brother album. Mentally breaking down all the elements to it until he/she understands the vision the other producer was going for. Some of us may critique the beat if it doesn’t fit into our own particular way of doing things ( some fans do this too ) others simply sit back and marvel at the work we are witnessing, shaking our collective heads and simply saying “WOW”. For me this album easily is the latter.
I had a conversation with my boy J earlier today about the fact that when the “Underground” first gained prominence in Hip Hop it was a place where those that thought outside the box could gain accolades for favoring progression that the mainstream didn’t allow. But nowadays the majority of the underground has succumbed to the approach of having a formula. (usually a chopped up sample over heavy drums and light orchestration) Usually when an artist goes beyond these confines they are met by certain people claiming “That’s not REAL hip hop” even when the artists doing it are certified underground legends. (Exhibit A: Peep the reaction Felt 3 by Slug, Murs and the one and only Aesop Rock got from the backpack elitist that would have preferred for Slug and Murs to only rhyme over soul beats like they haven’t been doing that for YEARS)

Kanye West has been in the spotlight for many things (none of which I care to get into) but one thing people seem to overlook is despite the ego (or confidence depending on how you look at it) is the fact he is OBVIOUSLY someone who love music with a passion. How do I know? LISTEN TO THE F*CKING ALBUM. Do you think anyone who see music as simply a hustle would have bothered to make an album as musically complex as this? Everything from the breakdowns to the lavish instrumentation screams out “This dude worked on these beats for MONTHS not minutes” Even the beats provided by RZA ( as I said before, if you don’t know who that is KILL YOUR DAMN SELF ), No ID, Bink, Mike Dean etc are clearly manipulated to fit the vision Ye‘ had for this album. I can relate. When I produced the beats for my instrumental album Frozen Flesh, Ugly Soul or Left of the Scenery and Midnight Hindsight for my group The Plexiglass Fountain I was on such a mission that I lost more nights of sleep than I care to admit. People that heard the finished products told me that they could hear a lot of extra work and passion went into making those joints. (Hell yeah it did haha ) It was the same thing I felt when I heard The Cold Vein by Cannibal Ox for the first time. It’s a mutual respect that fellow producers have for each other when we hear one of our own push the boundaries just for the sake of doing it. Believe me MBDTF is literally dripping with that shit. Pretentious? You’re damn right that this album is that, but it is that in the best way possible. From the expertly layered vocals that announce Dark Fantasy to the filthy ( for lack of a better word that to describe it ) guitar chops, drum break and keyboard sprinkles that form the boom bap fueled Hell of a life Speaking of boom bap, one of the elements that informs that production style, Drum breaks, are used heavily on this album. Either chopped or looped. The drums on this album stand out for their smack capabilities. I read in a “making of” feature that Kanye used Mobb Deep‘s drums as a reference point for this album. It really shows because these drums punch in the same way that Havoc‘s early style did. Uncompromising in their aggression and very HARD.

This album has had so many reviews written about it that I can’t say anything that hasn’t been said before. So rather than rehash what other writers said about it, all I’m gonna say is THANK YOU Kanye. Thank you for making an album that is exciting to listen to in this age of safety nets. The purists can stick to their guns. Shit, I love traditional hip hop as much as they do (if you saw me wilding out to the jazzy beats of the Low End Theory and Midnight Marauders at Rock The Bells 2010 you would know better than to doubt that) but I still love to hear something that is so good and next level it almost scares me how adventurous it is. This is a double edged sword because certain producers create a great sound then abandon it for something else that is nowhere near the initial brilliance they displayed but this is not one of those albums. The only “traditional” Ye‘ sounding beat was done by Bink but I dare anyone to say that Ye‘ did not push his sound anywhere but forward with this.

So, allow me to end this with one of my favorite lines off the album “DJ’s need to listen to the models/ you ain’t got no fucking Yeezy in your serato?/ (you aint got no Yeezy nigga?)” Any self respecting music head that doesn’t have this album deserves to get cursed the fuck out. Nuff said.


Tokyo Cigar


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