Two months ago, T.I. brought his entire Hustle Gang to the northside of Atlanta, closing out their 36-city tour that began in April. The collective, comprised of both veterans (Trae the Truth, Big Kuntry Kane) as well as younger MCs (Ra Ra, London Jae), put on a showcase of sorts, featuring around 10 different mini-sets that flowed for more than three hours easily.
Jacksonville rapper Tokyo Jetz made her appearance onstage towards the midpoint of the show. Sauntering across the platform in a red leather skirt, she commanded the attention of concertgoers almost instantly—bobbing and stabbing one finger at the air in tune to each punchy one-liner. Then she would giggle once the song ended.
An actual giggle. A devil-may-care titter that has become a kind of signature for the young emcee—as if to say, “Y’all see all this?”
Who couldn’t see it? Within a year, Tokyo Jetz has gone from talented Instagram darling to Grand Hustle’s newest signee. At the beginning of August, she released a project dedicated to her fans, aptly titled Viral and she’s already plotting out her next few albums. Seven years ago, she had planned on becoming a poet (a career in music was not on her list of goals ) and yet here she is, a self-made rapper to be reckoned with by way of social media.
We had the opportunity to speak with the self-proclaimed G.O.A.T. about lessons learned, Jacksonville rap and why she believes most ‘female rappers’ are too sensitive.
Hip-Hop Wired: You spent a lot of time back and forth between Atlanta and Florida as a teen. Do you find that you identify with any one side of Atlanta as a rapper?
Tokyo Jetz: I wouldn’t say that I identify with any specific side of Atlanta but I think anybody that’s been through something but anyone from any ghetto within any city would be able to relate to my music. If I had to say any specific area, it would be where I’m from in Florida.
HHW: What is the rap scene like in Jacksonville?
TJ: Everybody raps. Yeah I think that’s everywhere though, like, everybody’s a rapper. Everybody trying to be an entrepreneur but there are a lot of dope artists in Jacksonville. I just think it’s an area that hasn’t been tapped into yet. So hopefully once I break out a little bit more we’ll be able to let the world see what we have to offer.
HHW: How big of a surprise has it been to see your numbers jump so quickly on IG?
TJ: It was definitely a surprise. And it happened within a couple days. Like, I went from a couple thousand to a couple hundred thousand in a week.
HHW: What made you think of wanting to freestyle in the whip anyway and make a whole thing of it?
TJ: When I started rapping, I wasn’t able to go to the studio whenever I felt like going to the studio. So anytime I felt like I wanted to record something, I would just do it that way instead because it was free. And that’s how I started out doing videos like that. And it’s crazy because everybody’s doing it now, so I feel like I kinda played a part in starting that wave but yeah, I just wasn’t able to go to the studio when I felt like it, which I’m actually kinda appreciative of now.
HHW: And Tip eventually came along…
TJ: It was in the midst of me starting to pop. He commented on one of my Instagram videos and he flew me out to Atlanta and I’m still here.
HHW: What’s been the biggest lesson you’ve learned so far?
TJ: I’m still learning. I’m used to being in control of everything so being on tour with so many people and with so many things moving to get us all in the same place at the same time, I wanted to take control and I couldn’t do that because there were so many pieces moving at the same time.
I try to take it one day at a time but everybody says I don’t realize what’s going on. Maybe it’s because I’m the one that’s actually going through it? But I just take it a day at a time. I’m so grateful for everything.
HHW: You’re probably mainly known for these scathing freestyles about unhealthy relationships. Where do you get the material? Is it personal or from your friends?
TJ: It’s kinda like, a mixture of both. Things the people around me have been through but for the most part it’s unfortunately, my past. And the sad part is that most of it comes from one long, drawn-out, bad relationship. Three almost four years.
HHW: Why do you believe the industry only allows one female rapper to flourish at a time?
TJ: I think women that rap are too sensitive like if I was to do an interview or do a song and say ‘I’m the best that ever did it,’ every female that raps would feel offended. But if a male does the same thing no one says anything. Like, Wayne can call himself the greatest alive or Tip can call himself the King of the South and nobody argues. It’s not a problem because nobody’s feelings are involved. I think women are too sensitive and get offended about everything when I wasn’t even talking to you. I’m supposed to feel like I’m the best at what I do and so should you.
HHW: To be fair though, Tip called himself King of the South years ago and caught a ton of flak for it. You’ve called yourself Queen of the South. Are you prepared for that static?
TJ: Before I made that particular blog where I called myself the Queen of the South, I always called myself the GOAT. And I would have other people’s fans all in my comments, tagging their favorite rapper all day, saying that they’re better than me. But I don’t mind that because when you come on my page and say, ‘Oh. Such and such is better than Tokyo…’ You’re making me the bar, you making me that goal that people should aim for so that’s fine. Go ‘head.