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


lyrics for “1995”, “I wonder ( remix )” and “Here Now”

So………………..I just got back after performing at TEDx Baltimore. WOWWWWWW. I’ll expound further on the event tomorrow. ( spoiler: IT WAS EPIC ) I’m doing the twitter thing right now and i was asked if i had my lyrics online. I just typed them up yesterday to give them to a lady that was gonna translate it to sign language ( between the experience of typing my lyrics for the first time ever rather than writing them down on paper and seeing a lady signing the words as i was rhyming it was a real epiphany moment ) so here is the first post every of my rhymes. SHAZAM


Where I’m from/ they teach hard work to the daughters and they sons/ kids at the market they used to run/ up to car windows selling dodo/ Muslim cats they get dough/ Hausa ,Yoruba and plus Igbo/ a couple of more/ tribes co-exist on the same side/ women keep babies tied/ to they backs surrounded by gats/ different army cats/ Ikoyi ,V.I., Ikeja, Festact/ African black/ ran streets alley cats/ studied philosophies of hustles/ dude they got a lot of muscle/ working with they hands/ F a work out plan/ most of us natives/ we born creative/ do things innovative/ this is where Fela learned how to play/ and world famous writers learned what to say/ it showed me beauty and it showed me stress/ I seen a man get/ beaten to death/ they left him by the gutter/ never found out why the reasons undiscovered/ my uncles and cousins they got shot/ pandemonium plot/ but the night life showed me how to rock the body body rock the body body rock/ we used to play soccer on blocks/

Seen him gleaming/ weed leaning/ empire steaming/ Victoria station/ meeting a fly Asian/ summertime in London/ BBC watching ITV switching/ London was the first place I got lifted/ hit the spots right/ I’m flying back to Ireland in like/ two nights/ to the Blackrock section/ blue and white rugby jerseys they repping/ no jive very live my girlfriend used to glide/ her tongue on my tongue/ smoke a fat one/ doze in class/ play the hallway with my Walkman on blast/ walk around Grafton street/ Tommy Hilfiger physique/ flirting with Irish chicks mad Joy/chilling at the Savoy/ Fly s**t/ but Dublin is Dublin Live s**t/ was always liable to happen/ them white boys were getting down scrapping/ donnybrook action/ life mixed with passion/ up in Belfast gats were blasting/ school locked us down when they thought beef would happen/ a lot of protests and rallies/ the city architected beautifully/ plus the country had magnificent scenery/

“I wonder (remix)”

My best friends were my headphones/ head blown/ off the melody/ before weed and Hennessey/ self-therapy/ like NLP/ my life’s a crazy flick but the film score is sick/ ever emotion that I had got hit/ I’m dead inside my feelings mad numb/ roots I have none/ living life on the run/ relationships didn’t last/ over too fast/ grab my passport/ pass/ another time zone/ another home/ another hood that I never known/ adapting environment/ I love Depeche Mode but I don’t enjoy silence/ drowning it in boom bap and violins/ cats hate me/ music set me free/ they seen I’m a star in the making too strong to be faking/ when I shine I seen em contemplating/


You know the feeling right?/ in the lab late night/ Styrofoam Chinese food/ ashtray interlude/ writing rhymes at work/ inspiration burst/ like a supernova/ you made an ill melody when you were making quota/ you referenced mythology in your rhyme while mixing coke and baking soda/chemistry/ capitalist philosophy/ peace girl your writing rhymes in your bed room/ sitting at the window sill for extra leg room/ performing at the bar you a genuine star/ five deep in the car/ hit the music seminar dream chase the new Nas he caught a case/ the new illmatic never got release date/ some of us blow/ some of us slow/ to get dough/ but we still making music though/ you can spot us up in guitar center spending mad dough/

(Chorus x2)

We the chosen few/ our life is musical/ it’s beyond a habit/ it’s like magic/ old man 65 play guitar live/ young boy with an SP studying Tribe/ Lady singing the blues till her soul cried soul cried soul cried Lady singing the blues till her soul cried soul cried soul cried  ( repeat )

(Chorus x 2)

“Here Now”

I was raised by rappers I never met/ my father left me fatherless/ young and searching for wisdom hidden in the dialect/ I learned for certain a dress where you hide a Tec/ same day I learned that sleeps the cousin to death/ mind correct/ heavy intellect/ plus learned respect for gang sets/ life in a capsule/ speak up don’t be bashful /graduate and flip your tassels/ do it like it aint a hassle/ cause the world smiles with you  but you cry alone/ same way your gonna rest underneath your tombstone/ I put the polo on and then I think/ grab the water and took a drink/ the seeds grow/ one generation flows/ into the next/ trends resurrect/ I light a cigarette/ deep in introspect/ staring at the taxes that they just took out my paycheck/ hella stressed/ rubbing the back of my neck/


And it gets greater later/ the reanimator/ brought the soul to soul back to life/ back to reality/ can’t control the spite/ perfect your strategy/ don’t fold do it right live like a majesty/ party for the right to fight assault and battery/ talking to shorty/ her name Kenya/ we rolling up and then we chill listen to Enya/ after dinner/ a bunch of naked sinners/politicians argue over who got a right to live/ couldn’t walk a mile in shoes that they did/ senate debating/ got hungry families waiting/ foul shepherds leading blind sheep/ keeps/ drama infinite like bio shock/ life’s a first person shooter but you getting one shot/ if you blow it/ cant reload it/

(Chorus x 4)

And life is game of thrones/ the sinners they chill and throw stones/ some of the kids never make it home/ even without white walkers with rotten bones/ war is king weapons make the iron throne/ some good men they still die disgraced/ just for having guts to stand up in the face/ of wrong/ we know the words sing along/ time is either gonna soften or harden the blow and I seen it all before so I play to win made the choice from within trying to die old and rich with scars on my skin and a satisfied grin/ a hundred years from now everyone is maggot food/ only the lucky get to die feeling gratitude/ balance the attitude/ longitude/ latitude/ move/ put the needle to the groove/

Ivy rest in peace I gotta say Biggie smalls rest in peace I gotta say

2pac rest in peace I gotta say Big L rest in peace I gotta say

Guru rest in peace I gotta say ODB rest in peace I gotta say

Big Punisher rest in peace I gotta say Paul walker rest in peace

(Chorus x 4)

It was written…………………………….shout out Nas.

36 chambers 20 years later a.k.a. Why Wu tang Clan represented the best and worst of my generation

wu tang cover

On a random brisk November day in Blackrock College ( Dublin Ireland Stand up ) i was walking out the lunchroom to the dorms and i saw the homie Hassan, a fellow African who was a year ahead of me. He called me over and handed me a tape as he usually did. I looked at  the cover and stared at it so hard he was like “you okay?” “yeah” i replied half dazed from how scary/interesting/original the cover looked. We talked about how FAT the cover was and how it had a certain hard to place element of intrigue to it.  Rap covers at that time were usually straight mean mugging rappers gloriously rocking ghetto attire fit for a king of a  future covered in barb wire or some painted/designed pictures a la prog rock/funkadellic albums. But this was different. The masks they rocked appealed to the kid i was, a kid that grew up hooked on Ninja movies. WHO THE FUCK were these guys? We opened it up and i was struck by how even when they showed their faces ( minus the incarcerated members U-God and Method Man ) Ghost stood in the middle still rocking a mask. In the hands of a less grimy group that would have screamed “GIMMICK” but for some reason they had an element of “wow i think the cops might really be looking for this guy” to them that made it seem more necessary than meditated.In the pre internet era where you were forced to use your imagination i had no reference point for the cover to strike me as being reminiscent of……………….I dunno……………..anything. Funny thing is i look at it now and it makes me think of a horror movie in the vein of “SAW” and “The Purge”. Having previously heard “Method man” and “Wu tang aint nuthin to fuck with” i was already stone cold blazed from how fly the music was but was in no way shape or form prepared for the sonic assault to the senses and life altering philosophies i was in for when i pressed play on my walkman.

Wu tang still blows particles from my subconscious 20 years later after a slew of classics that people were salivating over have been awarded the honor of having settled in to the minds of millions. But this is not about the music.  Nah Playboy, this is about everything that went into the music. I had a conversation with my fam Rome in the bookstore about it and he was dazed at how many points i brought up. Wu tang as a whole were such a phenomenon because they represented everything beautiful and tragic about the generation we grew up in. I was listening to the Combat jack show ( craaaaaaaaaaaazy show btw ) and an interview N.O.R.E. had with them really put into perspective how fucked up the golden age of hip hop was. Yeah………….i said it…………….FUCKED UP. We were blessed with magnificent music every Tuesday to the point that masterpieces were over looked. ( shout out “All we got iz us”, “The Natural”, “Hold it down” , “The aftermath” [ which had a production line up damn near as potent as “Illmatic”], “The Turnaround: a long awaited drama” etc ) but the n.o.r.e. interview really hit me when he told Combat Jack that he hates to listen to “The War report” ( which i still say is the last of the seminal criminal east coast rap albums ) because it takes him to a dark place. That album was haunted by souls of people that were shot, killed, paralyzed, traumatized etc aaaaaaaaaaaaaaand to top it off Capone was in jail while it was being made. The album has fucking skits of one of the members in jail as your listening to it. Let that sink in. The music was so glorious it was an overwhelming immersing experience to hear it but when N.o.r.e said he wrote that album when he didn’t know how to use his imagination it fucked me up because it really dawned on me that that lines like “put the bogey out in your face” and “bloody up your goose/ now who scream for truce/” were more diary entries than action movie script. I also thought of the underlining sense of rage that seethed through a lot of the best hardcore albums. You had to be a certain kind of person to appreciate the beauty in a loud abrasive drum loop and to take samples that came from love songs and turn them into the beat you could rap about witnessing a close friend die to. A lot of people lost their lives for albums like “The infamous”,”Illmatic” and “Enta da stage” to be born. I also thought about all the crack fiends and shattered families i saw on a recurring basis when i was in Greenbelt MD/D.C. and the sheer numbers of them it took to give birth to an album like “only built 4 cuban linx” and the fact that screaming “Bring da muthafuckin RUCKUS” that convincingly suggests a life where violent encounters had been honed to the point of muscle memory. Wu tang was the voice of those left to die ( Ironically, the only kind of people that would survive if the world suddenly turned to mad max like conditions ) and they instead impressed everybody out in the world with their display of marvelous talent and wisdom because they are hip hop and that is what hip hop does. Hip hop is not having a band and wanting to make music, hip hop is not having access to galleries to display your art, hip hop is not having shit but what is laying within arms reach and then turning that shit into gold that shits out diamonds. These dudes were high school dropouts that were smart as fuck ( the facts of Rza becoming a chess champion and Harvard…..yeah that Harvard invited the GZA to come and speak to their students attests volumes to that ) based on 5% teachings and a life where knowledge of everything from social customs and economic strategies to how to read body language literally held the keys to life and death. I thought about people i met that one second detailed extreme acts they committed ( the kicker is when they tell you how much doing certain things fucked with them psychologically afterwards ) and the next spoke to me about how to build a computer from scratch or something else that required a lot of brain capacity to do and Wu tang took on another level of importance because they showed that when the people were shipped off to places to die, their captors didn’t notice they were carrying books, lots of books. They were also armed with the same curiosity we all had as children. As they grew up they were inspired by Bruce Lee and watched, the killer, Voltron and Underdog too just like the children of the people that condemned them.

They were also the generation raised by parents who were around to talk about “That brother Malcolm X” from a first person perspective. They were jagged reflections of Black people that fought for dignity and carried themselves with an air of class ( i mean damn look at dudes like Sidney Poitier, Gordon Parks, Miles Davis etc black folk sure can get fly and classy when we feel like it ) The slacks turned to army fatigues but the self love that poured through even made a champion hoody look as flashy as a Hefner robe or a Sinatra tux. The idea of unity was also strong enough to outgrow neighborhood beefs between members and showed how people can put aside past hurts for a better future which is lucrative for all, something y’all politicians out there can STILL stand to learn from. These dudes didn’t send someone to shoot for them, they did the shooting and were still able to come to the round table and work it out. If they didn’t they could have all died like their captors intended.  But one did die……………….DAMN. Not in the war zone as intended but on the other side. In the tradition of countless other talents that succumbed to the temptress of intoxication. The war zone they came from is pre packaged with trauma and people cope with trauma several ways, the most popular being chemical. This reminds me of people i saw heroin swallow up whole around the way only to spit them back out as hollow cheeked zombie like folks and the friends i have that casually push the limits of their tolerance at the expense of their health. Sad. “After laughter comes tearz” R.I.P. Russell Jones and the others that fell.

People try and articulate what made the group as great as they were and it aint that deep. Look at where they came from and it will make sense cause of how it doesn’t make sense. I can relate to that cause i come from a place where we earn our scars and learn to give them back at a tender age no matter how secure financially we are and i chose to live a life where me and my people still wonder how something horrible kept on narrowly escaping us and oh yeah violent trauma and i have been on a first name basis for a while now, so even though i’m not a NYC 70’s baby like the Wu was, i get it.  I also was blessed to see a lot of things and places and stayed curious about stuff that “Black people weren’t into” so even though i wasn’t a project kid reading up on Bobby Fischer or walking into a Chinatown store to buy books based on Asian culture that was thousands of miles away from where i was from, i get it. Voltron is the shit, i get it. But really, Voltron is the shit, i mean it. This album was followed by others from the crew that shook up hip hop as hard as this one did but it will forever be know as the first step of a thousand mile journey. The kid’s didn’t die, they grew up, the scars didn’t disappear they just don’t hurt as much and the books they carried into the killing fields didn’t burn, these brothers just put it on wax and still told kids to go read the books. Rap music now is based on what you have when before it was showing what you could do with what you didn’t have. Not saying it’s good not saying it’s bad it just is. I’m always happy to see people feeding their family in a positive way. When i visited New York last i heard this guy say “the bad times are gone” people actually feel safer. Is that a bad thing? No, of course not. But sometimes it’s good to remember what overcoming adversity feels like cause that is the spirit that birthed the Wu movement and looking at this clip from Method Man reminds me that even without big jewelry on someone dressed in a skull cap and a simple winter jacket can be just as fly as anyone with a mink coat on when they can spit stuff as intelligent as this……………..

TOKYO CIGAR presents WU2 ( Wu tang Clan VS U2 )

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH High school. The wonder years. I was a kid in boarding school in Ireland.  Running thru Dublin bugging out and soaking in all the Hip hop i could find. I was such a fiend that i remember being in Abbey Discs and buying the “I got ya opin” vinyl even though i didn’t have a record player and having the dude that worked there play the whole shit ( instrumentals included ) and record it to a tape for me. ( Shit i still got the tape i think ) I was ecstatic that they had the joint on import cause when i saw the video on Yo MTV Raps i NEEDED that song in my life. Abbey discs was also cool cause of the people i wold meet there.  I’ll never forget the day this one Irish dude and i got into one of the most detailed conversations about hip hop production i ever had. I had never even thought about making music at that point, i was just a fan, but i remember the way homeboy was breaking down the Al Green drum break in “Mahogany” and telling with me that it was better on that than on the “Tried by 12”  joint.  I was like “WOW dude really knows his shit.”  Hell, i didn’t even really know what a fucking drum break was back then.  Sampling was Fuzzy to me. I just knew the music put me in a zone and i assumed people made it with keyboards or bands or some shit.  One fateful day when i was in school the big homie Hassan called me over and handed me an “Enter the wu tang ( 36 chambers)” tape and life as i knew it would not be the same for the next few decades as the Staten Island crew BLEW particles off my brain. I heard about the clan for a while and i heard “Method man” and “Wu tang aint nutting to fuck with”  so i was drooling to hear the album. The cover hit me the most the first time i got it. CARTEL did a fucking fantastic job with the artwork cause you couldn’t see their faces on some ill Ninja shit. I had never seen an album cover like that before and i was struck. It looked like a damn movie poster or something. When i got back to the dorm, grabbed my walkman and popped in the tape and heard “Shaolin shadowboxing and the wu tang sword style. If what you say is true the shaolin and the wu tang could be dangerous”  it was OVER. The rhyming, the beats, and everything was just too next level. I remember i played it for a couple of the dudes there and heads kept on trying to borrow the tape. I must have dubbed that 36 chambers album for like 7 cats before i even gave the joint back to Hassan. ( Who by the way i was ducking cause i didn’t wanna give that tape back ha ha ). With the exception of “Iron man” i bought all the solo albums while i was still in boarding school too. Hell, i still get Flash backs to to riding the bus to Grafton street every time i hear “Knowledge God” or “Sub Crazy”.  Heads in school were really feeling the Wu as well. I lost track of the amount of times i heard “Protect ya neck” or “Diary of a madman” blasting through somebody’s boombox. Back then most cats that were into hip hop were more into the west coast artists ( Ice-t, Cypress Hill and House of pain got a lot of airplay i remember ) but when the Wu hit it just had all kinds of people open. From those years Wu tang has always been the greatest rap group of all time to me. If you think i ain’t keeping it a 100. Ask anyone that i got into a heated “Wu tang is the best of all time” discussion with.

The First time i ever heard U2 was when i was living in VA. I remember being in the whip with my family and the radio being on and “With or without you” being played a lot. Something about that song just always stuck out as being beautiful but sorrowful. Ironically when i was living in Ireland i was not into U2 cause i was such a “strictly hip hop” kid. I remember hearing the “Joshua Tree”, “Zooropa” and “Achtung baby” bumping but i would tune it out cause i felt “That’s that other shit” Damn shame cause i still remember the way everyone in school was going crazy cause of this one show U2 was gonna play, in retrospect i wish i went cause as much as i love their music now it would mean so much to have the memory of seeing them live.  As i grew up i fell in love with U2’s music. They have mad emotional power and a dope cinematic feel to their music that started to resonate more as time went by and i began to understand great music is great music regardless of genre. But i cant front even back then i was digging the joint that had the Edge rhyming on it. The video was crazy too. When i hear U2’s music now it give me a feeling i cant even describe. That shit just hits me like “Thank God i’m alive to hear this”. As i got more of their albums i also respected the fact that they always reinvented themselves. I can understand why some who swore by “WAR” may think “POP” was too out there musically but hey……………..THE MUSIC WAS ALWAYS CRAZY. Bottom line. I love the fact they always did what they felt like doing cause no matter what the fuck they did they always had joints that would send a chill down my spine when i hear it start. U2 gets into the same zone of some deeeeeeeeeeeeep soul music. Think of the feeling you get when Marvin goes “ohhhhhhhhhh makes me wanna holler the way they do my life” in “Inner city blues”, that soul music that is so raw and strong it actually burns. U2 takes that and spreads it over mad various styles of rock. Crazy!!!!!!

Putting this project together was fun. I originally planned on doing something like my “Black faith mixtape” with Depeche Mode but one random day the name WU2 popped in my head and i couldn’t get it out. I went and grabbed the vocals and when i put em together it was Zen like the way it all fit. Even down to the titles of the songs and the way U2’s music matched the feel of the Wu’s rhymes when blended together. It took about 5 days for the production ( i did the beats for “Love in Daytona” “Holla First” “God’s Zoo” and “Run to the Exit” on the same day matter fact ) and 2 days of mixing in the vocals. When it was all said and done and i listened to it i caught a very ILL feeling.

I hope yall enjoy it

Keb0 & Tokyo Cigar “Live on Cloud 9” EP


Keb0 and i have come full circle. EP to album to EP again. In between we made a lot of dope joints. I put a lot of emotion into my beats and when i find an MC that can match the emotional content neck and neck is always the biggest blessing. This EP came together seamlessly as all our collaborations do but this one took some extra time and grew a lot as a result of the extra time put into it. Scope out the breakdown.

1. Reverse Oragami – This is personal introspection mixed with a “walking past a swamp barefoot” type murky soul beat. Kebo jumps out the helicopter with the flow off the break. Its almost like the space at the start is the only chance you have to cath your beath cause once the onslaught starts it doesnt stop till the end. This is the start of the movie and introduces the lead characther in a funky way.

2. Drifting – This beat makes me wanna slide across the hood of a car “Dukes of hazzard” style. When keb0 sent me the vocals i was like WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAT?????? The smoothness yet ruggedness of Keb0’s delivery really struck me about this track. They lyrics were poignant as always. Painting a scene of his stomping grounds in such a way that i tend to listen to this joint with my eyes closed just to visualize it.

3. Middle fingerz up – This is one of those joints that makes you feel invincible. Arrogant in confidence levels and overdosing on adrenaline. I went for a triumphant layered beat with a lot of texture in it. I barely jog but if i jogged a lot i think this would be in the playlist cause something about it just screams “go the extra mile” even if your tired. The delivery on this was waterworld. Keb0 really expanded his tones and flows on the EP and this song is one of the strongest examples of that.

4. Live on cloud 9 – This is what i would consider a hip hop version of “Eye of the tiger” if the rapper was a pimp. The beat screams EPIC but the verses whisper LIFE. Life in all it’s glory and misery. Compacted and spit out in the form of a song that makes you wanna snuff someone then turn around and hug your mom’s two seconds later. Build ups and instrumental breakdowns mirrior the build ups and breakdowns of the narrator. Life in techicolor with some static thrown in for good measure.

5. Late at night – This is the anthisesis of the extreme emtional highs the EP has. Keb0 sent me 2 versions of this joint. The first one was very fitting for the beat already but the second version damn near made me tear up. This song is the manifestation of every bad day you had. I dont mean getting your car towed type bad. I mean total devastation borderline suicidal type bad day. The loop is based on some strings i played while going through a particularly rough time in my life and when i sent it to keb0 he honed in on the misery of the beat and created rhymes that took the beat by the hand fucked it hard in an abandoned building then took it to Vegas to marry it. if this EP is a movie the movie ends like something like “Gone baby gone” Where you find yourself comatose at the end of the movie cause you are stunned at the sad ending and find yourself wondering how the characters journey would ultimately end.

Salute to Keb0 for the next chapter in the saga.

Check out the post we got on 2dopeboyz.

Tokyo Cigar thoughts: OLD BOY


“Wow”.  A simple three letter word.  One that attempts to sum up and communicate that which is usually beyond mere words.   Wonder, mystery, and awe inspiring moments are some of the things that word could describe. But what does one do when something blows your mind to the point that simply saying “wow” not only would not be enough to convey it but it almost disrespects  the level of wonder the said work of art inspired?

This movie is that work of art. My peoples have told me that I have NEVER stressed them to watch a movie as much as this one. Hindered by the fact I couldn’t really explain the full plot of the movie without giving away THE greatest cinematic “OH SHIT” moment ever. What I can tell you is this Korean revenge movie has some of the most incredible acting rubbing shoulders with some of the most imaginative and iconic directing I’ve ever seen. A man is locked in a room for 15 years and he has no idea why he’s in there and when he gets released he goes on a quest to find the person responsible. You get to see the hero go through so many different states of mind by the end of it you kinda feel like all your emotions are fighting and climbing over each other to claim your attention all at once at a break neck pace.  Plus the main chick in the movie is one of the hottest Asian chicks I seen in my life (but when I think of how she works into the plot it always gives me a slight uneasy feeling haha).  This movie has moments/shots that scream EPIC (The hallway fight is worth the price of admission alone), and it also boasts some life altering quotes sprinkled amongst the straight forward dialogue. This is far from a movie like “Snatch” which partially draws its strength from how witty everybody ( and i do mean EVERY fucking BODY ) in that movie is. The lines in this movie are more “to the point” style. The plot is so complex and nerve racking that fancy adornments may actually fuck it up. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking porn movie level canned lines, it’s just that most of the lines are very, verrrrry simple when someone isn’t happening to be saying something that rock’s your subconscious out of the daze it’s in to contemplate how powerful the statement you just heard actually was.

Movie endings over time are bound to get repetitive (cue Nas’s “no ideas original”). Every movie we’ve seen is a variant on another story we’ve seen/heard/read about. Few films stand out for simply giving you a mind fucking at the end. It may be a revelation someone makes or a plot twist that has you shaking your head in disbelief (Kevin Spacey suddenly walking straight at the end of “The usual suspects” anyone?) I promise you NOTHING you have seen will prepare you for this one. Revenge gets broken down to it’s many faces in this movie, showing it’s different levels of intensity among the characters but the climax in this movie is simply the most INTENSE showing of revenge I have ever seen in my life. For someone to do that to someone else, that takes a very rare potent type of hatred.

This movie is not for everybody but it is so great everybody NEEDS to see it. If only for the minutes you find yourself frozen in your chair as the credits roll, totally bewildered trying to explain to yourself what you just saw. How often do movies do THAT for you nowadays?

The Triple Crown of Rap part 3: TOKYO CIGAR “codename: DEVASTATOR”

Well, this is it folks. I would have posted this earlier but i wrote a making of feature for the album for the homie Menace from Conspiracy Radio ( VERY dope show ) out in London so i figured i may as well wait. Much love to everybody that repped on this album with me.

Peep the feature.

[Breakdown] Tokyo Cigar – Codename: DEVASTATOR (Exclusive)

Producer, artist and writer Tokyo Cigar recently released arguably his most important project to date, namely, Codename: DEVASTATOR (listen / purchase after the jump). A sonic reflection of his influences, from the likes of Wu-Tang, Gangstarr, Peterock and CL Smooth, with a lyrical focus on striving to become better and gripping society’s state of affairs by the throat.
The project finalises his Triple Crown Of Rap Saga (3 albums in three months!) that began last December and features guest appearances from Keb0, Nasty Nyne, Cyclops, Czarina and Teddy Faley.
Tokyo recently chopped it up with me to breakdown the outcome of his personal milestone, track-by-track. Enjoy!
The day I decided to make this album was at Rock The Bells 2010. I walked into the spot and saw KRS ONE on stage. He was talking to the crowd, dropping mad jewels and the fact that I had been listening to him for so long and was seeing him in the flesh for the first time had me ZONED OUT. He was on stage with a crew that included Supernatural and Freddie Foxx (who kicked a dope freestyle that shut it down) and I was absorbing the vibe of everything. Then Primo came on stage after Kris and had a quick DJ set. That really bugged me out ’cause as much as everyone knows that I’m a complete RZA fanatic, I also know that Primo is THE MOTHERFUCKING MAN! [cont.]

Just seeing him for the first time and flashing back to “Supa Star”, “New York State of Mind” and “Come Clean”, I was in a zone. Same thing with Tribe, hearing “check da rhime” performed made me realise how much Q Tip played a part in my production development. Without a doubt the high spot of the night was WU. I have seen them do their thing, mad times so it wasn’t the fact that they went INNNN that had me open, it was the moment Nas came thru and laced “Verbal Intercourse” with Rae and Ghost. That sparked it. The mastery of music and also the communal vibe that laces Hip hop at its essence. I left the spot in a daze and VERY hungry. I decided to round up my people and go in. I was in the middle of mixing “When Inspiration Hits” for Cyclops and producing “CoExist” for Keb0 (on top of other stuff too) and making beats for the next Plexiglass Fountain projects, so I was swamped. But when that hunger hits me I refuse to ignore it (as you can tell from my heavy musical output haha). So I started lacing joints for it and writing. The whole thing was a six to seven month process. While making it I took a break to jet out to South Carolina to unwind (and went through some crazy life changing shit), finish the Cyclops and Keb0 albums and do the “Felt 3.0 a tribute to Nancy Sinatra” remix album (which made so much noise online I was kinda shocked).

I’ll give a breakdown of each track:

Anyone that read my Kill Bill write up knows that the moment Uma was walking the desert to kill Budd, has one of the best pieces of music I ever heard. I had to lace it up even though I already flipped it for a Jay Z remix. I felt the fight Club speech summed up a running theme of the album. Striving for better and analysing life as it is. It was one of the last things I did.
Dr. Crisis

This was the last song I made for the album. I made the beat and my boy Grant heard it and he was like “You need to put this on the album”, something bare bones and straight forward. Not too musical, just rugged with some hard drums over a crazy flute. I wrote the rhyme on some let loose shit and introduced myself and my crew.

Anti Creation

Teddy Faley has been my man for years. I love the dudes music. We collaborated on a couple of songs before and I wanted to get him on this joint. I made the beat early in the album stages. Some sandpaper rugged and mean shit. I had the first verse and sent it to Teddy and he laced his, then I laced up the third verse with this rhyme I had in the stash that was ill. I added the Transformers joints in there to announce the fact that from that moment forward Devastator had been formed, plus I wanted to have the original “Alley Cats” beat on the album in some way shape or form, so I added it to the end.


One of my favorite beats on the album. I made it on some random shit then sat back and like WHOA!!! The organ just does it for me. It took a LOT of chopping to create that melody (trust me your not gonna figure out what it is). I did the drums differently at first but when I went back and redid the pattern it was the money. The beat had such a life affirming vibe, I wanted to touch on life in a positive but real way.

Skeleton Bent

I made this beat originally for the next Plexiglass fountain album. I just loved the fuck out of it. When I sat down to make it that was not what I had in mind at all. But when I played the pattern I was like “are you fucking kidding me?” I had a different verse to it but I wrote a hotter one and laced the hook too. Cyclops killed his verse on some wow shit. I called the dude up and said like “Yooooooooooo you killed it”

Dialogue Of Funk

Hard; that was the mind frame going into making this beat. The sample was maaaaaaad funky, up-tempo and had mad energy but when I slowed it down and chopped it up it became very mean. I told Keb0 and Nanigan to go in on some some wild out shit. The CL smooth sample was just sitting in my sound bank and I don’t even know why I decided to add it in but when I did I was like “Yep, That’s it”.

Broken Wings

A lot of people have been going crazy over this joint. I was in a very dark place when I wrote this song. I don’t think I ever will get over my sister’s death and this song represents my trying to deal with the finality of life and death. The idea is that we are all going to die, so while living I try and make things better for when I finally have kids and pass life onto them. I had a different beat for it but when I came across the record I flipped, I was like “this would fit better” because of the amount of emotion it had when I chopped it up.


One thing that tends to follow sadness is anger and that’s why this track is up next. But rather than just talk about violence happening I wanted to make a song that deals with those moments before the jumpoff. I told Cyclops and Nasty Nyne to kick a scene of being a person that is about to set it off in different situations and they came ILL with it. My verse was about a dude that robbed this one cat for hating on the fact he got head from a fly chick and the night ended up in College Park MD about to get in the mix of a big brawl with hip hop heads and some drunk truckers. The beat just represents that tight feeling in your chest, when you realise that it’s about to go down and people may not survive. You know, the big set off.


I made this song to touch on Nigeria, London and Dublin because even though I post up in Maryland now, those spots played a HUGE part in my upbringing. Traveling represented a lot of my life in the 90’s. Even though cats go through these spots on tour, there is something that has to be said about living there that that tour life can never tell you. Visiting London and staying in hotels for a few days will never show you the life on that side the same way that waking up there for months on end, running the streets of West Croydon with your cousins, getting the bottle of milk the milkman left every morning, eating coco pops (I don’t fuck with Weetabix), channel surfing between ITV and Sky satellite channels, hopping the train in Victoria station to hit the city, reading Hip Hop Connection every month and taping stuff like Tim Westwood, Max and Dave etc can give you. People also go apeshit over the beat. I wanted to make something mad cinematic for this joint. Something visual in sound but also very heartfelt.


This one is for the ladies but rather than make a bubbly pop sounding joint, I wanted to take it back to the dance hall clubs I used to hit. This beat represents all the times I been in a club grinding on two chicks, squeezing asses and bugging. That’s why when the bass drops in the DROPS IN. Something dirty but sexy. The rhymes are just different scenarios I’ve been through and my outlook towards chicks. I put the homie Kebo on this joint ’cause he was always dope with writing rhymes about females.

Alley Cats Part 2

I decided to reflip this beat from the first one because of an interview I saw with Primo and Pete Rock. Man, that interview had me bugging out so much from hearing the stories ’bout all the classics they made that I went into an immediate beat-making stupor. I made like 15 joints in 4 days and this was one of ’em. I loved this beat so much but I didn’t want to add another track on the album ’cause that would have been too much ,so I decided to use the beat for this song instead. Its very different from the original but I swear this beat makes me think of 1996 everytime I hear it. I kept the rhymes the same and the more laid back nature of the track actually fit the “cool out and chill” part of the hook more.

Money Lust

I wanted to make a western sounding beat on this one. Some riding into town at sunrise type shit with some heavy drums on top. The song concept came from me thinking about the saying “it’s lonely at the top”. Life is crazy to the point that you can spend it chasing something so ferociously, only to find out that it cost you your life. Rather than kick a single story about it, I decided to get different perspectives on that idea. Cyclops and Nanigan went in on this joint. I picked them ’cause they are always incredible at breaking down subjects and really nailed it with this one.


This is one of the earliest beats I made for the album. I sent it out and when the verses came back I went in and added more music to it. Nasty Nyne and Cyclops came correct on this joint with the battle rhymes. I wanted to attack the track in a different way, so I wrote a story dealing about apocalypse and used it as a metaphor for what batting Devastator would be like. One of my favorites on the album.

The Network ( D.M.V. )

The loop chop is something I made YEARRRRRS ago. I dusted it off and drummed it up for this track. I had to rep’ the DMV real quick on this one. Maryland has shown me so many different sides of life it’s crazy and I had to touch up on it. I mentioned when I used to hang with Damu the Fudgemunk at Capital City records in DC too. I’d seen everyone from Kev Brown to Oddisee up in there every week and its crazy how that one record store used to have just about every ill rapper and producer in the area up there catching wreck. Good times.

At Night

This is the point of the album where I get more complex with the music. This track is mad symphonic and emotional. My boy said it reminds him of Star Trek. The concept of the song is surviving the struggle. Mal Moe zoned out on the hook something CRAZY. Cyclops and Keb0 originally wrote their rhymes to a different beat but I ended up changing it and using their vocals over this one because I felt the emotion of the beat fitted the rhymes more.

She Gave Me Pineapple Express

This is a song dedicated to my little sis’. Everyone knows that I burn down chronic but when I found out that she started smoking, the big brother in me kicked in. Even though I puff I feel weird to know that she does it too, so I wrote a song for her on some “keep your head up” shit, giving here advice about life and telling her to be careful what she gets into. The beat is one of the best beats I ever made and it gets me zoned out when I hear it (especially when the bassline drops in and the melody switches).

Big Speaker Spot

I always liked going to spots and passing the mic around and rhyming so I made a song that captures that essence. You know, you hit a spot the DJ drops a beat and you go for yours. Simple. 3 MC’s + 3 beats = SUPER IGNORANT RHYMING. I added the background effects and played the host too to add to the scene. Nasty Nyne and Keb0 went INNNNNNNNNNNN on this joint too. Crazy track.

Cinema Life

I made this beat on some movie shit and sent it to Czarina. I named the beat Cinema Life just as a reference but when she got it she wrote the hook and her verse combining romance and cinema and when she sent it back I heard it and flipped. I wrote my verse along the concept and when the track was done, I was amazed at how ill it was. Master peice for sure. I feel with some label support this song could be huge.

The New Matrix Reloaded (The Marsha Brady Sequel)

This was made in the tradition of posse cuts like “protect ya neck”, “Scenario”, “Headbanger” etc and some MC’s going in over a barbarian stone hard beat. No fancy shit just nothing but intelligent brutality. Heads are spitting some science on this but it is covered with a very strong “fuck you” attitude, break beat drums, synths and pure evil combined to make the beat. Mad hip hop heads been hitting me like “That beat is RAWWWWWW oh my God”. I gathered all the guest rappers for this one joint because this is essentially all the MC’s forming Devastator for this track. This is the climax of the album.

I wonder

This is a love letter to music. Anyone who knows me knows that when I hear a song I like go crazy no matter if I’m by myself, at a show whatever. Music has this grip on my soul that is beyond love, beyond obsession, beyond…………I don’t know. I’m just addicted to making music. This track is pretty much like if music was a chick, this is me on bended knee proposing to her. Musically very lush and orchestrated. The homie Gray is Nanigans room mate. I met the dude in South Carolina and we kicked it puffing in some and watching James Bond flicks. Very cool dude. He played me some of his music and I was like “Yooooooo I got this one song I want you to lace for me”. I wrote the words and I sang it myself (with my grimy ass voice you can imagine how that sounded) and I sent it to him and he laced it and I was like YEAH!!!!

Well that’s it. This album represents my life up to this point and is a personal milestone. My main objective with this project was to make sure anyone who hears this album has no choice but to call me someone that truly lives by the statement, “music is my life, life is my hobby”.

Plus heres the artwork

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.


originally posted on