Hip Hop's International Overflow

The world according to Tigarah

In case you missed it, hip hop has gone global. One of America's truly homegrown musical genres and social barometers has definitely left the building, as rap has been appropriated and infused with a new vivacity by emcees and producers across Europe, Africa, South America, and Asia. For every Eminem there's a Mike Skinner; for every Missy Elliot there's a Lady Sovereign. Enter Tigarah, a Japanese female emcee whose music is already drawing comparisons to MIA — everyone's favorite Sri Lankan dancehall revolutionary — and who may well be on her way to a similar level of success.

One look at Tigarah's MySpace page and it becomes evident that her army of more than 13,000 friends is at least partly responsible for fueling her growing hype. This former political science student is in the midst of a visit to the States to showcase her self-titled debut EP, a half-hour of crunked-out electro beats produced by her partner, Mr. D. Sounding something like the work of Lil' Jon and Diplo's offspring, Tigarahsets screeching keyboard catcalls ablaze over bouncing dancehall and bhangra rhythms. Although you may not have a clue as to what she's saying, Tigarah's flow sounds extra nice as she varies boisterous chants with a sultry coo, switch-hitting between Japanese and English. She even occasionally sings her own choruses, on songs like the Middle Eastern-tinged "Japanese Queen" and the ready-for-the-club banger "The Game in Rio." It might be wise for Tigarah to consider working with some different producers, though, as Mr. D's Caribbean roboto beats begin to blend together, reaching a sine-wave status quo from one song to the next. Currently at work on a full-length, and searching for a label to call home, Tigarah seems poised for dancefloor domination as the outsourcing of hip hop adds more international talent to its ranks.

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