Going “off the grid” — which, in 2018, means going somewhere with unreliable wi-fi and distracting yourself with a lot of time-sensitive work — can be great in a lot of ways, but boy is the return to the real world jarring. I spent the last five days at the Fuji Rock Festival, and couldn’t really keep up with…anything during that time. While not as pressing a concern as I come back to a daily routine — that would be being behind on work, sorry all my editors — the feeling of trying to catch up on everything that came out in Japanese music these past few days feels particularly daunting Tuesday morning. But one release rose above while out in the wilds of Niigata. That would be tofubeat’s new song “Run.”
The balancing act tofubeats has always performed is being a producer and being a performer in the spotlight. He’s navigated that tightrope well thus far, though last year’s Fantasy Club saw him edging back towards the center. And his 2018 output has only underlined that more. “Run” gives tofubeats space to step into a rap role that he’s long fancied in his career, and the end result is one of the giddier raps he has made, moving beyond the self-doubt found on last year’s album but also being a bit more serious than freebies like “Drum Machine.” “Run” also avoids the typical Japanese hip-hop pitfall of trying too hard to sound like an American artist, opting for something a bit more in tofubeat’s own lane thanks to the digi-pizzicato and general bounce. Plus, at just under two minutes, it wastes no time. Listen above.