BUKU Artist Spotlight: TOKiMONSTA
Written by Parnia Razi on February 28, 2019
Jennifer Lee, better known by her stage name TOKiMONSTA, is a producer and DJ from Los Angeles. In addition to making incredible music, she also has quite an astounding story behind her work. Lee grew up playing the piano and always had an ear for music, and in 2010 she was invited (as the first woman) to join the Red Bull Music Academy in London. With the skills and exposure she gained there, she was signed to Flying Lotus’s label Brainfeeder shortly after and released her first album, Midnight Menu. She continued working on music until 2015 when she was diagnosed with Moyamoya disease, which required her to have 2 intensive brain surgeries. The disease is rare and often fatal. After the surgeries, she lost the ability to comprehend language or music and even had to re-learn how to walk. She has been very open about how difficult this was for hero, but with perseverance she was able to regain her ability to comprehend and make music within a year.
She wrote her most recent album Lune Rouge during her recovery, making it a very personal album for her. With what she was going through at the time, the album definitely has a more melancholic and slower energy than her usual upbeat hip-hop inspired sound. However, the album has a beautiful, airy feel to it with many instrumental tracks as Lee dove deeper into her production skills. The album also has features from Isaiah Rashad and MDNR, giving it a range of voices and styles, while still fitting perfectly together as a coherent piece of music that tells a powerful story. Since her recovery, TOKiMONSTA has started playing all over the world, bringing her amazing story into her music and growing even more as an artist. Her music has been described as kinetic, psychedelic hip-hop beats, often layered with vocalist features from artists like Anderson Paak that add a perfect flare to her sound. At this year’s Grammy’s, Lune Rouge was nominated for best dance/electronic album, and although she didn’t win, the recognition for her work is important as a woman in the male-dominated electronic genre.
You can check out TOKiMONSTA at this year’s BUKU Music & Arts festival in New Orleans! Being recognized as one of the best music festivals in the U.S., BUKU’s vibrant style, diverse lineups, and amazing setup in the heart of New Orleans makes it a perfect spring break destination for music lovers across the country. You won’t want to miss this exciting festival to kick off your spring with some amazing music. TOKiMONSTA will be taking the stage at BUKU on Friday, March 22nd alongside other incredible artists like Lana Del Rey, Excision, RL Grime, and Toro y Moi.