Over the past few months, Savemoney members Vic Mensa and Chance The Rapper have gotten massive buzz on the internet. Today, we have the opportunity to introduce you to another member of the Chicago-based collective, Tokyo Shawn, who premiered the music video to his new single “I Know You,” a couple of months back. The track may catch those familiar with his older material off guard, but that’s likely what Shawn was going for, being that he’s one who takes pride in his versatility. With his new EP in tow, we sit down and chat about his Tokyo Monikor, films, music, and more. Read below for the full interview…
It seems like this new material is a departure of what fans are expecting of you. How is Wave Theory different from Community Service in terms of maturity?
TS: I would say Wave Theory is definitely my sound more defined. I was able to get more familiar with how to create a record vs just laying down a verse on a track. I was able to become more musical and I feel thats exactly what my sound needed.
Chance the Rapper has made lots of buzz lately. Is venture out solo something that is important to you as well as the other members of the crew?
TS: Yes, although we are a crew we are all talented individuals, each one of us are capable. We brand ourselves individually while under the same SAVEMONEY umbrella. We are a music collective of artists that happen to all be very good friends.
Similar to bands like Outkast, you guys all kind of went to school and grew up together. I would imagine lots of groups and bands start out this way but when did you guys realize that what you had was real chemistry?
TS: Unlike most music groups or bands, we didn’t start with music in mind. It was jus a group of kids in the city that just happen to be good at rapping. I feel that there is a higher standard of living in our group of friends. That’s why we are able to continue to push the bar.
People are always trying to label artists. Whether you are a rapper, a conscience hip hop artist, a musician, or an emcee…what kind of niche are you trying to carve out for yourself?
TS: I am an artist first and foremost. I don’t feel there needs a label — but definitely a musician. I want to be able to create music with no limitations.
I know growing up you were into freestyle battles. Is that still a big thing in the streets? Do you ever participate?
TS: [Laughs] They still go on, but probably not as popular now. Catch me in the field, I got hot bahs.
You like to be involved with your production as well which I find very important. As you become a bigger star are you afraid you might start losing that ability? For instance, lets say you get a beat from the Neptunes but you don’t like a snare or sound they use. Would you still fight to craft the beat that suites you perfectly?
TS: I’m not afraid whatsoever. There is always a solution if you sit there an think hard enough. In a situation like that, ideas would get bounced [around] but I would have to feel very strong about the decision if I were to make it.
Hit us with some of your favorite Asian films?
TS: I think “The Ring” was crazy! But, scary movies aren’t really that scary…but I still appreciate good writing.
Tell us all about the moniker of ‘Tokyo’ and why you choose to have it in your name and how it contrasts with your roots in Chicago.
TS: The name found me, I was talkin’ wit’ my brother Vic and the name stuck. Well, I grew up more connected with the hispanic side in my family in the city, but still was raised by some of my Japanese side. I have always loved Japanese culture and I embrace my nationality. I think its the best mix [laughs].
So with the recent controversary of Jimmy Kimmel and Kanye, how are you feeling about being an artist in this day and age? Do you find it challenging to be taken serious by the media? Does it sometimes feel like an uphill battle trying to find the right platforms and media outlets?
TS: Well I understand it. There are a lot of things that are flawed about the media but this is something that cant be changed. Verses trying to change the system from the outside, I feel you have to get in it then as they say “play the system”. Our voices can be heard and that is the beautiful part about this day and age — is that we are capable.
With the album coming out, its only right we ask you what lies ahead. Tour dates? Plans for another album? What lies ahead for Tokyo Shawn?
TS: MOVIES! [Laughs] Just kidding, but yes, touring! After I get the product out (WAVE THEORY), I cant wait to show people in person. I also am planning a trip to Japan soon so someone out there should book me a show ;). I promise they wont be disappointed.
Want to stay connected to Tokyo Shawn? Follow his cookie crumb trail below: