Let’s actually back up a bit and start on a more optimistic note. Tokyo artist Magical Ponika has been kicking around for a little bit now, in the same zone as other underground Japanese rappers seemingly inspired by the whole “SoundCloud rap” thing . Initially, she delivered bright candy-shelled numbers that put her own spin on a style that, by mid 2018, felt well established. She also could get a bit more melancholy when needed, but it was only a few days ago she dropped a real bubbly, tomorrow-is-bright cut called “Future (Rebuild).” Backed by a woozy sample, Magical Ponika sets her sights skyward, delivering verses overflowing with excitement. Listen below.
She followed that one up with “We Are Anyway Die,” which swings the totally other way to a point of being somewhat uncomfortable in its feelings. The title lays it out — we are all doomed, so let’s connect, but not really in a joyful way, but more in a fatalistic way. It still has plenty of bounce — and some fun ad libs — but of the two songs she has put out recently it is far more…relevant to right now, even if something inside me wishes it was the other way around. Yet what both manage is something a lot of younger artists in Japan inspired by American hip-hop are starting to do, which is use familiar ideas born abroad to find their own little corner to play around in. With this pair, Magical Ponika demands to be included, whether she does so by being upbeat or down. Listen above.