Tokin Interview: Chicago-based artist’s ‘Final Act’ is far from over

Photo courtesy of Rolling Loud

When Tokin (formerly TokenVlone) dropped his debut album Vandals in December 2021, listeners seemingly failed to realize the bonafide star power the 18-year-old phenom possesses.

Drawing near similarities to Juice WRLD, Iann Dior and Internet Money’s golden voice Dro Kenji, Tokin’s first official project was evidently ahead of his time — catapulting the young Chicago-bred rapper to the core of SoundCloud’s revitalized new wave. With addicting melodies and a refined vocal presence that’s an undeniable force to be reckoned with, Tokin is undoubtedly poised for greener pastures — taking what’s his and striving to “take over the game” one track at a time.

“I’ve had a lot of people tell me I couldn’t do sh-t, so I feel like with ‘Vandals,’ it’s me taking what’s mine — you gotta take what’s yours even if you don’t have it right now. People might think like ‘oh he’s f–king up the art,’ and I’m like nah. With that, I want to take over the charts, I want to take awards home with me. I just want to take over [the game].”

Tokin on the essence of ‘Vandals

Off the back of the Vandals’ newfound hits in “Breathe,” “Patience” and “Perfect Prescription,” the teen enigma is steadily becoming a staple of the new wave’s glistening cast of characters. Looking up to Chi-Town legends in Lil Durk, Chief Keef, Kanye West and of course, Juice WRLD, stardom is inevitable if you put in the work, and for him, it’s more than within reach.

“[I see myself] on top of the game. I really feel like I’m going to be up there,” he said. “[I want to keep] getting in with more producers and other people that can give me insight and teach me more about the game, because I’m still young. But, with the work I am putting in — in the studio every day cranking out like seven songs — I feel like I’ll be on top sooner than you think.”

Locking in with Internet Money mainstays like Rio Levya, Census and Grammy-winning producer Based1, Tokin has every tool at his disposable to become hip-hop’s next big thing. Initially getting discovered by submitting his music in one of Internet Money’s IG Live sessions, Tokin’s leap of faith ultimately paid off in the long run — leading him to work with Cxdy and Kenji on his boisterous SoundCloud cut “Lately.” While never being signed to the label, the pair’s chemistry is instantly infectious from the jump, as Tokin credits Internet Money for giving him a light to eventually shine on his own in.

“It was like an ‘A&R live’ type of thing. There were mad people in there and they were playing people’s songs and I just sent my music in there randomly. Then, everybody in the comments was f–kin’ with it. That was my first exposure — I worked with them for a little bit after that. Shout out to Rio [Levya] from IM, he definitely helped me when I first started out… I’ve done stuff with both Rio and Census and have much bigger things on the way.”

Tokin to Our Generation Music

Still in the thick of growing his fanbase and discography — sharing post-album singles in “Permission” (Feb. 15) and his most recent “Final Act” (April 4) — Tokin says that self-belief is the most important aspect when it comes to creating quality music. Touching on his admiration for Juice WRLD — and how integral he was in Tokin’s desire to pursue music — he channels Juice’s essence even in his recording process, saying that their comparisons don’t faze him, but instead builds him up.

“I freestyle every song. I never write. I’m young but I’ve seen a lot of things in my life — I can talk about a lot. If there’s some sh-t I’m going through, I’ll spit that sh-t on the mic — its like solace for me. I use music as my therapy. Being from Calumet Park — and Juice also being from there — he was a big inspiration to me. I definitely get the Juice WRLD comparison a lot, but I don’t let it bother me, [his] sh-t just really resonates with me.”

Tokin to OGM

While Tokin’s “Final Act” is far from over, this is just the beginning for the rising SoundCloud heartbreaker. As a fringe new wave star, he’s taking his time to figure out where he’s going — “staying true” to himself every step of the way.

“I feel like I’ve been really trying to take the time to get my sound down and really find my pocket. I’m taking my time to stay true to myself.”

Tokin to OGM

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