Hip Hop talent from the DMV area (DC, Maryland, VA) has always somehow been able to bully its way into the rap game, underground and mainstream. While still in close proximity to the East Coast, This area seems to have always had its own super unique talent. Tokyo Cigar’s rhetoric on his latest full-length album “26: The Maryland Era” is a very clear and vivid depiction of what it was like growing up in Maryland from his creative and abstract point of view. If you’ve never been to this area of the U.S. before, while listening you’ll feel like you’re walking down a Baltimore block with a blunt in one hand and a skateboard in the other. With very few features, Tokyo Cigar spits venom all over this project. So much so, that I had to listen a few times to ensure that I could grasp the full message of the album. I love albums that challenge my mind and force me to listen beyond the surface level. That’s real audio art.
“The Trauma you overcame became the armor on your chest plate”
Tokyo Cigar – “Funeral Dirt Elements”
Tokyo Cigar “26: The Maryland Era” | Rap Nerd Review
The Album is 19 tracks, with no fillers. The abstract boom-bap beats on the project give a raw unfiltered feel, which fits the story Tokyo Cigar is telling in his raps. The intro is Tokyo making it known that the album revolves around the lifestyle and culture of hip-hop in and around Baltimore. In track 2 he raps about the “Baltimore boom-bap Society” and how it has influenced his life and music. 26: The Maryland Era is a well-rounded body of work. Some of the songs are fun but not silly like “Blunt Guts and Laundry Rooms.”, some songs have a strong militant vibe like “Kanomi Code” ft. Nanigan Nickleby. This is just one of the only 2 features on the album, and Nanigan starts the track off with a crazy ill lyrical showcase! I love the smooth and soulful vibe on “Unicorn Contract”, which might be one of my favorites. The message I got from this track was powerful.
“All you got is you and yours now go make it work/ network until your feet hurt…..for what it’s worth…Life has the meaning that you give it.”
Tokyo Cigar – “Unicorn Contract”
The unorthodox gritty textures and complex cadences that Tokyo Cigar provides on this album make it a great listen, making you want more after each track. The project is cohesive, yet still hard to predict as you listen. Some of my other favorites on the project include “89 Rap Flow” ft. Santino Profound, “Robin Shrines”, and the vulnerable family-oriented track “Sepia”. I found it hilarious when Tokyo talks about throwing a stick of dynamite in Maryland 😂 it’s very convincing.
Overall This is a great project! Very complex rhyme schemes paired with some classic boom-bap are usually always a win, but this album still stands out as a masterpiece. This project is a huge win for the underground hip-hop culture in the DMV and other neighborhoods alike.
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Rap Nerd Rating (4 .5 out of 5)
released June 16, 2023
Produced, Mixed and Arranged by Tokyo Cigar (O. Allam)
Mastered by Tokyo Cigar, with assistance from DJ Pizza Slice
Track 6 co-written and performed by Nanigan Nickleby
Track 14 co-written and performed by Profound Bastard
Executively produced by Oraza Allam & Adrian Garrison Williams
Automatic Records 2023 ©
written by Derek “Rap Nerd” Moore
Rap Nerd LLC