I went to the fifth installment of the Tokio Shaman party today at Shibuya’s WWW, and it re-energized me a bit when it comes to following music existing just outside of the mainstream. Ostensibly, this event highlights Japan’s nascent “SoundCloud rap” community, featuring performers such as Sleet Mage, Gokou Kuyt and Tohji. Part of the thrill was seeing a tight-knit set of people coming together and soaring up together — maybe a semi-strange comparison, but this had the same energy as like Maltine Records’ events from the start of the decade — while also getting the vague sense that this could transform into something bigger. A few of the artists have the look that some clever major label should pounce on — my personal pick would be Sleet Mage, who had the crowd at peak hype with this one featuring Sid The Lynch — but if anyone is going to leap up it’s probably going to be Tohji, who has that stage presence and all-out energy that really wins folks over. And maybe this was home field advantage, but they were gobbling up his set. “On My Own Way” popped up early Sunday night, with an opening melody that made me think Vanessa Carlton. It’s a good display of his sonic variety — dude does a turn-up well, but here’s the kind of introspective number showing a way for Japanese rappers to actually stand out from the American acts they draw moves from. It’s even better with headphones really, full of nice vocal mist lurking in the back and the strings at the chorus sound extra lush here. It comes down to how Tohji navigates this softer side, still sounding every bit as charming and making it land in any mode. Listen above.