Toki Wright is having an amazing week. Mr. Wright was just named Hip-Hop Studies program coordinator at the acclaimed McNally Smith College of Music in St. Paul, where he has been teaching for a few years. Plus, he's celebrating the release of his Faders mixtape Saturday night at the Fine Line. To top it off, it was his birthday on Tuesday.
But not everything was so smooth. Not long ago, Toki's longtime collaborator and producer Reggie Reg's house burned down. A lot of Toki's new material, including about 75 percent of his new record Channels that was expected to drop on Rhymesayers, went up in smoke. "It put us in a precarious situation," says Wright. "In a weird way, this has given me an opportunity to do something I always wanted to do, produce my own music."
Getting sick of the informal and less creative way of just picking ready-made beats off a CD from a producer, Toki accepted the challenge to fuse his love of multiple sounds, rhythms and music and meshed it with his vocals. While trying to refine his sound and production technique in a studio one night he ran into one of the biggest electronic DJs around in DVS1, Zak Khutoretsky. Zak overheard some of Toki's work and wanted to collaborate right away. Experimenting in house, reggae, dance and dubstep, the two are forging a new and exciting sound for Toki Wright.
Mr. Wright has been teasing his new sound with audiences on his last run with Doomtree's "No Kings Tour" and gaining rave reviews by playing and free styling over a house set. Even at SXSW, Toki did multiple shows one showcasing his rapping and another showcasing his production side which showcased much of his love for house, funk and live instrument flirtation.
"I want to make music that matters, but moves. I feel people like Bob Marley and James Brown have been able to talk about tough topics but kept the crowd moving. That music has life, that's my aim, that's my goal. That's where I am headed with it, " says Wright "The world is changing and is in a different place, and the things that are going to survive are things that are original and real. People like and respect all kinds of music now"
This Saturday could be the perfect time to catch his transformation with the eclectic and diverse lineup that includes a funktress rock crossover in Mayda, a wagged out Franz Diego, rated rookies Audio Perm and the Mad Way Out will turn some heads and the Wants vs. Needs super crew spinning a rare set that should be unusual from their monthly gig.
So if you are having a tough one this week, maybe you should come down and try to tap into Toki Wright's magic week. We can't guarantee any rainbows and sunshine but we can guarantee a glance into a new movement in our music scene, and that is always worth a smile.
This Saturday at the Fine Line Music Cafe, Toki Wright "Faders" Mixtape Release! w/ Mayda, Franz Diego, Audio Perm, Lioness, The Mad Way Out, Bomba with Oso, Da Black Pearll, Wants Vs Needs DJs, Beaker, Simone Dujour and Live Art Demos. Doors 8:00pm | 18+ Show | $12 at the door