Written By: Brandon Basile
Originality: (4 / 5) Vocals/Flow: (4 / 5) Lyrics: (4 / 5) Production: (4 / 5) Average: (4 / 5)
The underground still has waves. They may take longer to make it to mainstream shores, but they can often times have more of a widespread effect. California producer, Jennifer “TOKiMONSTA” Lee has been making moves over the past 7 years as one of the premier taste-makers of the West Coast Beat scene and was the first artist signed to super-producer Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder label. Lee began production on her latest LP, Lune Rouge, before being diagnosed with a rare neurovascular condition, Moyamoya, and is said to be a culmination of her experiences having to do with her condition, but also her experiences with her own musical growth. Lune Rouge, which means “red moon”, presents sonic landscapes akin to the lush vibes that have defined much of the indie internet hotspot. Strap in for the experience and let Toki take us for a ride!
Lune Rouge opens with the tracks “Lune” and “Rouge” which are relaxing dives into rhythm and melody. These 2 tracks are some of the few tracks on the album that don’t feature vocals from other artists, but Lee lends soothing and somewhat haunting vocals herself. You can definitely feel a warm moonlit sky somewhere in there. “Thief” is one of the more upbeat Hip-Hop/R&B cuts and features male R&B artist SAINTS. “Thief” is sports modern production with some reggae grooves and isms for a feel good jam that would be dope for summer 2018 mixes. “NO WAY” which features Hip-Hop lyricists Isaiah Rashad and Joey Purp as well as smooth tones from vocalist Ambre for a fresh Hip-Hop/R&B love song, with the reluctance to romance that is characteristic of today’s new school, as Isaiah Rashad and Ambre share interchanging chants on the chorus:
I can’t be hanging with yo friends, no way, no way
I won’t do lesser than a ten, no way, no way
I can’t be fucking you again, no way, no way,
It would seem that Jennifer Lee decided to create musical medication for her struggles as the positive vibes are apparent in the feel good melodies and lyrics of the MNDR assisted “We Love” as long-time collaborator MNDR sings:
Always doing better, even under pressure
Higher than a satellite
Never gonna come now, never gonna turn round
Us against the world for life
We love, we love, we love…
Like nobody does.
MNDR and TOKiMONSTA have cooked up memorable tracks on Jennifer Lee’s previous LPs and EPs, but Lune Rouge features two emotional appearances by rising star singer, Selah Sue, on “I wish I could” and “Early to Dawn” both of which feature heavy electro R&B/Pop grooves. “Don’t Call Me” is a shining example of synergy as Lee creates intricate musical layering while still complimenting Yuna’s soft voice typically accustomed to singing gentle lullabies. “Estrange” is a trip-hop journey into sound and is a gem of audio production and musical experimentation.
Jennifer “TOKiMONSTA” Lee has been grinding with her music and dealing with her own health struggles, but has been growing with her music since her first release Midnight Menu in 2010. Her other seven releases are studded with musical diamonds and features by artists like Anderson. Paak and Gavin Turek, but Lune Rouge encapsulates the emotion and growth of TOKiMONSTA for an upbeat experience that will give tingles to your senses and skin. Lee has gone through trials and tribulations, but this dj/producer’s skies are limitless and full of passion.