We all dream of meeting our heroes in the flesh and sometimes dreams are all we have. I recently re-discovered a few of Tokona’s live videos. I’ve seen some before, several years ago, but got interested in a few of the suggestions at the end of another Tokona video I was watching and decided to check them out.
My favorite one is actually three songs mixed together with the live audio and video, then the live video and studio recording. ‘Shirazaa Itte Kikaseya Show’ (知らざあ言って聞かせやSHOW) is followed by ‘I’m in Charge’, then ‘Nexxxt Big Thing’. For me, hearing him on a track is a powerful experience. The thought of seeing him live would be one of the greatest things I could do; but unfortunately, that will never be possible.
When he takes to the stage, he seems to be in a new place, up there doing his own thing to entertain the crowd without worrying about anything else. He’s quite aggressive and yet relaxed very happy in his own skin to be doing something he enjoys and that’s the way to get the crowd going crowd going. It’s got to be the excitement he generates by his gestures and the way he looks at the crowd. A big part of Hip-Hop is entertaining the audience and that’s the reason rap music came about; a way to entertain the crowd. It’s as though the relaxed way he goes about his art is because that was his calling and that comes through in his mannerisms. That’s the original reason I began listening to him. He was doing something different from the other Japanese rappers, but in a way that felt natural and as though he was making a contribution to the art form.
Of the rap and non rap music artists I’ve seen, he is more aggressive and that’s what you’d expect. Even so, everything he does is controlled and calculated The brand of rap music Tokona performs is one that relies even more on having the attitude that you’re the best, you’re on top and nobody comes close. He pulls this persona off really well, having a stage presence to match the content of his lyrics.
Props also come into play with the performances. The sweat towel is his strongest prop, being there to wipe his brow and whip the audience into a frenzy. The second weapon he makes good use of is the crotch grab. I’m not sure what he’s trying to find in his pants, but he seems to find it and whips it out to the delight of the audience. Perhaps it’s the sweat towel he’s looking for? The third prop is the use of hype men. They’re perhaps the weakest part of the display in that sometimes, it looks as though they’re just there to make up numbers in this particular video. However, it’s not possible to hear everything that’s going on and they don’t do any rapping in this particular montage, so
Recorded, Tokona sounds so energetic and passionate. Of course, I’ve only seen and heard recordings of his live performances, but he really comes to life as if he was right in front of me performing. Being able to actually see someone do something they clearly enjoy and were born to do is a great feeling. From the change in excitement I feel from his recordings to the live performances, I think he’d be a sight to behold in the flesh. All I can do now, is seek out more of his live shows and dream of what could have been.