Tokyo’s Revenge: First TikTok Superstar Of 2020
Frequent users of TikTok have doubtless heard the work of Connecticut-based rapper Tokyo’s Revenge, who has had two songs dominating the platform for the better part of three months. Here we explore what exactly has made these tracks such a success.
Guest post by James Shotwell of Haulix
With multiple songs going viral on TikTok simultaneously, Tokyo’s Revenge is the video-sharing platform’s first breakout star of 2020.
Ask any regular TikTok viewer if they know a rap song that features a barking ad-lib, and their brain fills with flashbacks to countless clips. Ask that same user if they also know a song that features the line, “that’s a thot,” and their eyes will roll back as another avalanche of memories featuring looping videos with dancing people floods their brain. These tracks are commonplace on TikTok, and they have been for the better part of three months.
Both songs are the creation of Tokyo’s Revenge, a fast-rising rapper hailing from Connecticut. The young artist has never revealed his real name or age, and according to a recent interview with Complex, he prefers anonymity.
He explains, “For now, while I’m still a dickhead, I can be like, ‘I’m 444 years old.’ I want to stay as anonymous as possible”. Adding, “I don’t really care that much, but I try to hold back as much information as possible, so people think about me and the music separately.”
Tokyo’s Revenge began posting music online in 2018. His first taste of success came with the release of “GOODMORNINGTOKYO!” on Soundcloud in the summer of 2019. The track went viral on the music-sharing platform, amassing millions of plays, but the music industry at large barely noticed his rising profile.
In November 2019, Tokyo’s Revenge again went viral with the release of “THOT!” The song, which references Drake and lasts under three-minutes, feels built for the social media age. The track features a hypnotic beat backing lyrics that display intelligence and humor in equal measure. It’s the kind of song you cannot shake, one that lodges itself inside your mind and plays on repeat at all hours of the day.
Both neither “GOODMORNINGTOKYO!” Or “THOT!” would be a topic of conversation today without TikTok. Beginning in December 2019, both tracks found a massive audience on the ByteDance-owned platform. The first to win over users was “THOT!,” which was aided in part by a viral dance trend.
To date, the original upload of “THOT!” has inspired more than 200,000 TikTok videos, with countless more created from remixes and separate (unauthorized) uploads.
Fans of “THOT!” soon learned that Tokyo’s Revenge has other songs tailor-made for TikTok clips. Pinning down who was the first to use “GOODMORNINGTOKYO!” is almost impossible given the current tools made available by the platform. Still, there are now more than 1.1 million videos using the song. The most popular trend amongst these clips is for content creators to act out the ad-libs. For example, people bark. Check it out:
It’s safe to assume there are more than 1.5 million TikTok videos in existence today that use music created by Tokyo’s Revenge. Those clips have millions and millions of views, which has helped both songs — as well as the rest of the artist’s catalog — find success on other platforms. “GOODMORNINGTOKYO!” has amassed more than 38 million Spotify streams and topped the platform’s viral songs charts. “THOT!” has more than 10 million Spotify streams and appears on dozens of popular playlists.
The success of these two songs has gotten so massive that the industry is finally paying attention to the artist behind them. In the last month, Tokyo’s Revenge has been appearing in virtually every major hip-hop publication, as well as numerous music-related YouTube channels. Just last week, Tokyo’s Revenge and his producer, Clifford, did a Genius video breaking down the story behind “GOODMORNINGTOKYO!”
We’ve seen this kind of star-making success in the past with Ashnikko, Stunna Girl, and Blanco Brown. That said, the excitement around Tokyo’s Revenge feels different because he has multiple tracks going viral at once. Whether or not the young musician behind them can continue this trend of TikTok-ready creations remains to be seen, but with over 4 million monthly listeners on Spotify alone, he’s already making enough money from music that he doesn’t need a day job. Aside from a record deal and RIAA certifications, what more could you ask for when you’ve barely released enough material to fill an album?
James Shotwell is the Director of Customer Engagement at Haulix and host of the company’s podcast, Inside Music. He is also a public speaker known for promoting careers in the entertainment industry, as well as an entertainment journalist with over a decade of experience. His bylines include Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Substream Magazine, Nu Sound, and Under The Gun Review, among other popular outlets.