Album Review | Tokyo Cigar & Odd Nosdam – EXTERNAL MAGNETIC

This album was released on September 7th in the year of our lord 2020. Tokyo Cigar is one of the more interesting artists I discovered last year through his work with Iceberg Theory. His tape with August Fanon as Haircut Ambiance, Bodies on Fleet Street, was really good, so check that out if you haven’t yet. Anyway, I heard a couple singles from this project prior to hearing the full album, and I love what I heard, so I’m pretty optimistic about this. Odd Nosdam is an underground legend; all the work he’s done with anticon. is really awesome, so I also highly suggest that if you somehow haven’t heard it. At least listen to his work with cLOUDDEAD.

The album begins with Bolo Vs. Van Damme (Intentional Crime).

This track has a pretty nice beat with some hard hitting percussion. The storytelling from Tokyo Cigar here is great too.

The boxer took a dive
Drove him in a five worth more than the prize
Feelin' the vibe, leaned to the side
Told his man to hang glide, it wasn't worth it over pride

The song has a really straightforward structure since it’s just a story with no hook or anything like that. The beat is nice though, and I love the performance from Tokyo Cigar. The song is dope. The first real highlight comes with the next track though. It’s called Today Found, and I absolutely love how weird the beat here is. It’s super gritty, kinda fuzzy, and hard-hitting. It’s weird as fuck. I can see how some people might think it’s annoying, but I personally love it. The song’s just under two minutes long, but I don’t think it feels incomplete or anything. I like the way Tokyo Cigar flowed over it too. It’s dope as hell to me. The following track, vALENTINE FROM RESIDENT EVIL, is even better to me; I wrote about it in one of my old Best Singles of the Week posts in 2020.

I really enjoyed Tokyo Cigar’s feature on the recent album from Iceberg Theory & August Fanon, so I was excited to see him rapping over this beat from Odd Nosdam, who’s pretty much an underground legend at this point. I think Tokyo Cigar is a perfect fit over this heavy, gritty sounding beat. This shit literally sounds underground, if that makes sense.

Life is a ditch
You never know until the dirt hits your lips
If these walls could talk
They’d crack jokes about your body in chalk

If you only ever listen to super clean, accessible Pop Rap and melodic Trap music, you’re probably not gonna be able to get into this. If you’re more acclimated to this grittier underground sound, I think you should be able to appreciate it. I’m really glad I stumbled upon this track because I think it’s awesome. There wasn’t a lot of information about it, but the show notes of the YouTube page said “Mixtape coming soon,” so hopefully we can expect a full project in the near future. In the meantime, check this track out and lemme know what you think.

The following track is called Level 9000, and, once again, it’s even better than the track it follows. I love the melodic production here from Odd Nosdam, and Tokyo Cigar killed it.

The shit that I'm addressin', find it perplexin'
I'm in the session, turnin' up the compression
Get the bounce right, depeche mode
And it caught him at night, outside the expo
His neck glowed, Trump jewelry, retro
Made the sad puppy face, he had to let go

I love the way he was flowing here, and he was rhyming his ass off. The song is dope af. Track 5 is a pretty dope instrumental interlude entitled Tunnel Chamber. It’s a very dark, murky sounding beat. I fuck with it. It’s followed by Stoic Scumbag. I really like the stripped back production here. The hard-hitting, dusty percussion had me hooked. Much like every other track up to this point, Tokyo Cigar is just rapping straight through the track with no hook.

Holla if you heard me
Salt water for the thirsty
And if you ever jerked me
Sacrifice yourself in the temple of the unworthy

It’s not one of my favorite tracks on the album, but I definitely enjoyed it to some extent. I think it’s pretty good. The following track is called Ben Grimm Trenchcoat. I love how absurdly dirty the drums here sound. The rapping is nice too; there were a few superhero references that I caught in there.

Studied the tide
The moment shit rise
Tell 'em to hide
Phasin' through walls like Kitty Pryde
As they speed off
If you believe in ghosts you wouldn't beat off
The chorus clean enough to eat off
Drove it off the lot and he still lost

This track is followed by another interlude called Lit Up. I love how gritty the production here sounds. All of the beats on this album sound pretty rough and grimy. This is especially true for the following track, Drain Novacaine.

I love how heavy the electric guitar loop here is. It literally sounds underground. It sounds like my eardrums are being scraped against asphalt. Not in a bad way though. I guess on paper that sounds really bad, but just trust me; it sounds dope as hell. I just love how dirty it sounds. Tokyo Cigar’s singing here sounds pretty weird, and I guess it’s a bit of an acquired taste. I like it though. It sounds like there’s a lot of Punk influence on this song, but I say that as someone who knows very little about that genre. I think the song is dope as hell though. It’s one of my favorites on the album. It didn’t really register to me just how weird this album is until I got to The Greatest Murderer of All Time Is TIME. First of all, once again, I love how gritty and lo-fi the production here sounds. The percussion sounds like it was recorded with a Motorola Razr, and I mean that in the best possible way. It sounds super grimy. The reason I say this song is so weird is because of the way its structured, as well as the way Tokyo Cigar is flowing over it. I don’t really know how to explain why it’s so weird. Something about his delivery and flow just sounds super off-kilter. It’s definitely an unorthodox manner of rapping. At one point, the bass gets so loud that it pretty much drowns out what he’s saying. At this point he starts angrily reprimanding an unknown party in a British accent and calling them a “bloody idiot.” It’s some really weird shit, but what it lacks in normalcy it makes up for in character. It’s really unique, memorable stuff that sticks with you. The song’s pretty short, but it stands out a lot. I think it’s really dope. It’s followed by Listening to the Kurious Album Rocking Polo. Again, the percussion here is very dark and grimy. This is one of the more traditional sounding tracks on the album. I think the harp loop sounds pretty good.

Can it be all so simple?
The God's past was sinful

I don’t wanna quote too many of the lyrics because I feel bad when I get them wrong, but just know that he was rhyming really well. For as weird as his music can get, he never skimps on the rhymes, which I appreciate. I think the song’s really dope. It’s followed by Ultra. This one has one of the weirdest, glitchiest beats on the album. I also think it has one of Tokyo Cigar’s best performances on the project.

Shape shit, take 6, bank deposit
He kept the shotgun inside the closet
He wasn't brolic, time chamber hyperbolic
Hang glide then backflip, gorillas in the mist

He’ll find one rhyme pattern and then just go all the way in with it, which is pretty mesmerizing to listen to. This beat is far from my favorite, but overall the song is dope. It’s followed by one last interlude entitled Horsepower. The way Odd Nosdam sampled cars speeding here is fucking awesome. I don’t know how I haven’t heard any other producer do something like that in the past because it seems like such a no brainer of an idea, but it turned out awesome. I mean, maybe it has been done before, but I just haven’t been exposed to a beat like this. I think it’s dope as hell. It’s followed by another major highlight entitled Checks in the Mail. I love how dynamic the production here is, and Tokyo Cigar fucking killed it. I think this is easily one of his best performances on the project. The storytelling here had me hooked.

You look Kurt Russell with more muscle
His pops died in a gun scuffle, took a couple
Hitmen that sat in a huddle, schemin' on his blood puddle
Over rebuttal, type hostile, violent gospel
Desert Eagle and a monocle, bloodlust abominable
They knew he was formidable and stone-faced
But he taught his son grace
"Breathe calm and never race
See the form and the negative space"

The beat sounds like it samples ghosts screaming. It’s really fucking cool. It gets really melodic as soon as the verse from Tokyo Cigar ends. This is easily one of the dopest songs on the album in my opinion. I think it’s dope af. The penultimate track is called Kobra Kaizen, and I covered it in one of my Best Singles of the Week posts last year.

Towards the end of April, I wrote about a single called vALENTINE FROM RESIDENT EVIL by Tokyo Cigar & Odd Nosdam. I really loved the song and thought that they were a perfect match for each other, so I was really pleased to see that they dropped a new track together this week. The production on the aforementioned song felt very gritty and rough. This one feels a bit more murky and humid. I don’t know if that makes sense. That’s what I thought of as I listened to it though. I pictured a forest with a shit ton of greenery and a deluge of rain. Tokyo Cigar’s performance here is kind of melodic and fast paced. He was rhyming his ass off too. He kinda clings onto one specific rhyme scheme and then abuses it until he can’t possibly do anything more with it.

Raised by rappers that philosophize
Tryna make their brain wise, recognize and realize
Also learn to strategize, recollect and prophesize
Empathize, learn to see from different sides
Also gotta emphasize, niggas gotta get by

I also love how DIY and underground the music video looks. A lot of underground Hip Hop tends to have this super dirty, rugged aesthetic, and I love it. This single is taken from an upcoming project entitled External Magnetic. I’m not sure if Odd Nosdam is gonna be producing the whole thing, but either way I’m looking forward to it. Check this song out and lemme know what you think.

The final song is called Cold Desert. This track probably has the most traditional sounding instrumental on the album. The vocal sample is pretty nice. The song’s really short, but the verse from Tokyo Cigar is dope. Overall I think it’s a dope track.

This album is pretty damn great. It’s definitely an acquired taste, but I personally loved it. There’s not a single track here that I dislike. I just think the super gritty production from Odd Nosdam fits Tokyo Cigar’s unorthodox style really well. As far as the rapping goes, we get some really strange melodic deliveries along with dense multi-syllabic rhyme patterns and grim stories. The weirdest aspect of the album is just Tokyo Cigar’s delivery and approach to rapping. Again, it’s not gonna be for everyone. I appreciate the uniqueness of it personally though. I love how weird this shit it is. Don’t sleep on it. It’s really dope.

Favorite Song: Level 9000
Least Favorite Song: Stoic Scumbag


Grade: B+

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