Having been a firm fixture of the new age Hip-Hop sound that has flooded the landscape of contemporary music, Madeintyo is ready to enter a new phase of his career.
After finally dropping his debut studio album, Sincerely, Tokyo back in October last year, and with his first ever European tour underway (including a show at Islington’s O2 Academy earlier this week), it is safe to say that Madeintyo is on a red hot streak. And with a trip to London last year, GUAP and his paths crossed.
Here’s where I step in. I had the opportunity to interview him late last year at Nobu Hotel in Shoreditch, and what was clear beyond anything was this man’s adoration for his fans. A lot of our conversation was fan-oriented, and what appeared to me was an artist who doesn’t do it for the fame or the riches; rather, to give back to a loyal fanbase, which I found as quite an exceptional and exemplary attitude.
Side note: this was his first trip to London! Surprising, especially when you consider how established his career is already. How could we possibly not interview him?
Even though his face bore the effects of a dangerous combination of heavy late night studio sessions, and an extreme lack of sleep, we spoke for close to an hour about his career thus far. Despite being a proud ATLien, Madeintyo’s journey did not actually start in the US at all. His father served in the military, which meant the artist moved around a lot in his childhood, and actually found himself living in Japan from 9th grade to 12th grade.
From 9th grade to a year out of high school, I lived out in Japan; I lived an hour away from Tokyo, in Yokosuka. I felt like those there were the years that made me grow up.
It was here in Japan, where he found himself and coined the artist name that he would take with him throughout his whole career. He explains:
People used to call me Little Tokyo or the Kid from Tokyo, but I just went ahead and called myself Madeintyo. At first, people thought that it was a band, but I was producing at first under the name.
He found inspiration in Japan, and saw it as a place where he could ‘be himself’. Because of this, it is fitting that his name pays homage to somewhere he calls ‘home’.
As the conversation moved onto his career beginnings, he slowly started to exit the slumber that the early start had left him in, and began to express himself more, both verbally and physically. Upon speaking on his career origins, he shed light onto his experiences of living within a musical family – as some may or may not know, both Madeintyo, and his older brother, 24hrs, are artists within their own right, and have collaborated frequently in the past. However, having a big brother did not apply any sort of pressure for Tokyo; he sees his brother as inspiration and a trusted critic.
He’s like half of the reason I even wanted to do music; before I was even into music myself, I used to just watch him and think to myself like, ‘man, I wanna rap’. One other thing is that I trust his ear a lot. I trust his ear for what people like for me, because I know he’s a fan of me.
This togetherness and tight-knit attitude has been something that served Madeintyo well throughout his career; not just togetherness with his brother, but also with his wider entourage/record group, Private Club Records. Rather than following the traditional structure of a record label, he describes Private Club as , ‘a group of friends who make dope music, from rappers to producers to creative directors.’ Simplistic yes, but a formula that has proven hugely successful for Madeintyo.
His emergence in the game coincided with the birth of a musical phenomenon, known as the ‘Soundcloud era’, an era that is still going from strength to strength to this day. A large number of artists have transitioned successfully from Soundcloud to commercial success, and Madeintyo was one of the first, with Uber Everywhere, which peaked at number 51 on the Billboard Hot 100, and has received 70m plays on Soundcloud. Despite it not being his first tune, he aptly describes it as an ‘attention grabber’, but the fruits of his labour bore a year later than expected. He was heavily expected to be added to the 2016 edition of the XXL Freshman List, but this did not come to fruition – a decision which he admitted even surprised him, due to his fan’s reactions.
I didn’t realise that I felt like that until my fans felt like that. I didn’t realise that I even had a right to feel that way.
Luckily, his and his fans’ wishes were realised the year after, as he was deservedly added to the Freshman List for 2017, which he put down to ‘hushing his mouth and keeping humble’. He coined a very interesting analogy for the situation:
Roses are good, early or late.
His use of the analogy was very interesting, as it could also be attributed to the ‘later than expected’ release of his debut studio album, but we’ll touch upon that later. The snubbing from the Freshman List didn’t knock him down, and actually helped him to push and grind harder.
Next, we finally touched upon the new album, and he explained the creative processes in bringing it together, compared to his previous EPs. “I put more records and features on it, which was almost like a gift to my fans” he explained, “normally I just work by myself for projects, but it was real dope making it a group effort”. For a debut studio album, artists have to leave their comfort zones, and this is exactly what Madeintyo did, and to great effect too. With features coming from the likes of Gunna, Tinashe and many others, the sound of Sincerely, Tokyo was unlike any of his previous EPs. He described himself as being in a different head space when putting the album together –
There were some obstacles in getting the project done, which is what makes me appreciate it the most; being a father, travelling more, and just balancing out real life with everything.
The album encompassed classical Madeintyo vibes, such as in Retro 88 and Chucky Cheese,which he pointed out as two of his favourite songs off the album, but it also included a new side to his sound that he had not previously tapped into. I mean, who was expecting to ever hear a Madeintyo ft Blood Orange track? It was a hugely impressive effort, and I could hear the pride in his voice whilst he was speaking about it. But despite Sincerely, Tokyo officially counting as his first album, Madeintyo thinks differently –
To me, all my tapes are albums. All of these are our pieces.
Perhaps it came a little bit later than expected, and longer than his fans may have wanted, but he wanted to show that ‘the wait doesn’t matter’. It all goes down to the same analogy he used regarding the Freshman List, ‘roses are good, early or late’.
With it being his first time in London, it would have been remiss to not speak about his thoughts on London as a city, and the UK scene. “I always wanted to be in London” he reflected, “it reminds me of New York in a lot of ways”. It was a testament to the vast decrease of polarisation between our scene and the scene across the water; whereas before, it seemed as a requirement for a UK artist to establish themselves in the US as well if they ever wanted to be taken seriously, now, we see artists from the US regularly wanting to work and establish themselves with British artists. Having worked with UK artists in the past, such as Novelist, he quoted Skepta and Giggs as some of his favourite artists over here. It was this section of the interview, fittingly in its latter stages, where his humility shone through.
As we spoke on places he found himself surprised at having fans at, he reminisced to the time where he found out he had fans in Iceland; ‘finding that out was so weird like’, he laughed, ‘the first thing I asked a fan from there was, ‘have you ever been in an igloo?’ It seemed as if he was still pinching himself about the success that he has enjoyed thus far, and why not? His star is growing bigger and bigger, and with the album under his belt, the tours and plaudits are going to continue to flood in.
You can stream Madeintyo’s debut album, Sincerely, Tokyo, here.