Rolling Loud 2018: Towkio

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Hua Hsu of the New Yorker wrote that Asians in hip-hop “celebrate the free flow of the internet, in which cultural crossovers should be fast, frictionless, and shorn of historical context.” This accessibility has allowed artists and consumers alike to pick and choose different cultural modes of expression and create something that can be individualized.

On his most recent album, WWW., Japanese-Mexican rapper Towkio would jump back and forth among different genres: soul-infused hip-hop to pop, R&B to trap. Given the blend of genres the 25-year-old Chicago-based rapper so fearlessly explored, it was disappointing to hear the rapper relegate his setlist to a series of repetitive, trap-inspired songs such as “Drift” or “Feel Me Doe.”

Granted, Towkio may have simply been too aware and self-conscious for his own good. Preceding acts as well as the music that played during the intermissions showed how much people tend to actively respond and enjoy heart-palpitating tracks that you jump to. But if he had cooled the vibrations with songs such as “Morning View” or “Symphony,” Towkio could have better conveyed the versatility and reach of his sound as well as his lyricism.

In the end, the unadventurous choice to pander to the audience may have backfired. Reactions from the crowd were lukewarm and were only bolstered when Towkio would ask those in attendance to “make noise for yourself.”

Not much can be said for the rapper, who would have otherwise been a welcome addition to the ranks of multicultural artists. On Sunday, Towkio was unable to showcase the “weirdness” he once proudly stood by.

Contact Lloyd Lee at [email protected]. Tweet him at @helloydlee.