The first time mainstream America sees Tokischa, she’s wearing semi-transparent, nude-toned latex, cosplaying as a vulva.
“Soy La Santa Popola” (“I’m Saint Vagina”), she tells one unsuspecting Billboard Latin Music Awards red-carpet correspondent because the digital camera scans her outfit, from the headgear — a move between a Conehead and a nun’s addiction — to the crucifix resting at her stomach, to the chalice and disembodied hand of God drawn onto latex dangling between her legs.
“¡Bien, eso me gusta!” (“Good, I like it!”) responds the deficient soul, blissfully oblivious to the which means of the lewd time period Tokischa has simply spoken right into a microphone on global tv.
Tokischa’s lyrics and vocabulary are, indubitably, an expanding supply of direct site visitors to urbandictionary.com. The Dominican artist raps, to cite a crude Latin-American idiom, “a calzón quitado” (direct translation: “with underwear removed”). It’s a word supposed to specific uncooked, uncensored honesty, however Tokischa offers the expression new which means with unvarnished lyrical stories of orgies, medication, prostitution, and common desacato (riot).
Courting controversy during the suggestive use of latex and non secular imagery at awards presentations is not anything new, after all. It may well be the oldest trick within the trendy playbook: Madonna hired it when she humped the degree in a virginal white wedding ceremony get dressed on the 1984 Video Music Awards, and Miley Cyrus stoked the weeks-long ire of Fox News when she twerked on Robin Thicke in nude PVC shorts just about 3 a long time later.
Tokischa is angering executive officers and eliciting warnings about corrupting adolescence.
Tokischa has obviously studied this playbook and annotated its margins. During her debut efficiency at Premios Billboard later that evening — a collaboration with Rosalía — she replicated the Madonna-and-Britney blueprint via kissing the Spanish singer onstage on the finish of the music. (Unlike Britney, Madonna, and Rosalía, Tokischa is proudly out as bisexual.)
Speaking to New Times by means of Zoom from the northern coastal hotel the town of Cabarete — situated on the northern coast of the island and a a ways cry from her humble beginnings in Los Frailes, a local in East Santo Domingo — Tokischa stresses that she has been an iconoclast since youth. Asked about early influences, she responds with the identify of some other musical provocateur with a debatable previous: Mexican singer-songwriter Gloria Trevi. She mentions reggaeton, too, however she’s maximum animated when she recollects finding dembow and sneaking out to hear it at round age 11 or 12. She says the style, which is understood for its explicitness and has been sanctioned via the Dominican executive, was once verboten all through her upbringing.
“With the curse words and the expression — I loved it,” she says. “When I was alone at home, I’d play it as loud as possible.”
Now 26, Tokischa is the one that’s angering executive officers and eliciting warnings about corrupting adolescence. Last summer season, she was once fined for taking underwear pictures in entrance of a mural of her namesake, the Virgin of Altagracia, within the Dominican Republic’s La Vega province. (Tokischa’s heart identify is Altagracia.) The caption: “Sluts pray, too.” She issued a public apology, however the contentious put up stays on her Twitter account.
Her newest music, “Estilazo” — a vintage space collaboration with Marshmello primed for Pride brunch on the Palace on Ocean Drive — doubles as a undertaking remark for her debaucherous artistry and a birthday celebration of, as she sings at the monitor, “divine filth.”
“Being a bad bitch is fashionable,” she sings. “If you upload your ass to Twitter/You’ll get thousands of likes/Money for drugs/To buy happiness/Orgies at home/Let’s celebrate.”
Institutions’ makes an attempt to prohibit her have had the other impact. In fresh months, she has transform the most recent “it girl” driven via the ever-surging Latin song trade. In addition to the aforementioned, tepidly gained “Linda,” Tokischa collaborated with Rosalía on “La Combi Versace,” the penultimate monitor at the Spanish singer’s significantly acclaimed 3rd album, Motomami. It was once a notable vote of self belief, with the Weeknd being the one different artist featured at the document.
In dialog, Tokischa possesses a mischievous, childlike playfulness reduce via sharp wit. It’s transparent she has realized the way to attraction her method out of uncomfortable eventualities in her two-and-a-half a long time on the earth.
After her mother left for New York searching for paintings when Tokischa was once a child, she bounced from side to side between family’ properties. Throughout her youth, she cultivated her inventive dispositions thru theater, dance, and writing. After highschool, she grew to become to the profitable sugar-daddy and prostitution trade at the island. She’s candid about this time in interviews, recalling arduous drug use and showering after intercourse in makes an attempt to scrub off the scent of undesirable companions. For a time, she says, her cash went to medication. But after she met manufacturer and eventual supervisor Raymi Paulus, she took the cash she’d stored from intercourse paintings and invested it in her song.
“Since I began to make music,” she tells New Times, “The first thing I said was that I would be honest, that I would say what I was living through because I wasn’t going to invent a movie.”
Plenty of artists lean towards myth fairly than biography. Why could not that paintings for Tokischa? Because her previous, she counters, “was what I could speak about with pride. I was empowered.”
Her unapologetic means has ended in a slew of labels projected upon her: queer, bisexual, sex-positive, intercourse employee, putona. One explicit label is the topic of heated arguments on YouTube remark sections: Is Tokischa a feminist?
At a time when the rights of birthing individuals are backsliding within the U.S., whilst they growth in a lot of Latin America, Tokischa’s unrepentant birthday celebration of queer intercourse and feminine need is lauded via some, whilst her self-objectification is condemned via others. A string of new controversies has now not helped her case.
Earlier this 12 months, she angered other people on all sides of the talk when she voiced fortify for fellow Dominican dembow artist Rochy RD, who’s accused of sexually assaulting a minor who was once a purported trafficking sufferer. That got here only a few months after Tokischa issued a halfhearted apology for her position in “Perra,” a collaboration with J Balvin that compares attractive ladies to canines in warmth, and an accompanying video wherein Balvin, a white Colombian guy, walks two Black ladies on leashes. “I’m truly sorry that people felt offended,” Tokischa advised Rolling Stone on the time. “But at the same time, art is expression.”
“Being a perra is an expression, too, of feeling powerful, of feeling bacana.”
Asked by New Times if she better understands why people were upset, the rapper with the reputation for raw honesty becomes uncharacteristically cagey.
“I just feel that, la que no es perra no esta de moda (a person who isn’t bad bitch isn’t fashionable),” she laughs, quoting her music with Marshmello ahead of summarizing the intent of the music. “Being a perra is an expression, too — of feeling powerful, of feeling bacana (cool or great).” Reminded that the backlash largely stemmed from the racial undertones of the video, not the lyrics to the song itself, she retreats to another halfhearted mea culpa: “There was no intention to hurt anyone or anything. Everyone made it with lots of love because it was something super-creative, super-different, super-fun. Those who aren’t perras felt that way.”
Now stepping onto the global degree, Tokischa is adapting to a much broader target market (and, inevitably, greater scrutiny). She’s additionally dealing with an increasingly more packed shuttle time table. “Es una locura (it’s crazy),” she says of the tempo, including that she loves her time onstage however prefers to stick house in DR. She give up medication nearly 3 years in the past, although she started consuming once more in December.
“I got to a point where I felt I was moving away from my desacatá (rebellious) self,” she says, adding that she’s been doing some devotional writing lately. “I was so sober and so spiritual, and so on that vibe, that I felt removed from el teteo (partying). I have to find that balance because I have my career, which depends on my rebellion, on my story; but I also have my spirituality, which depends on me. It’s a duality I have, and I’m managing it well. I think I have a good balance. If I didn’t have that balance, I’d be too rebellious,” she says with fun.
One wonders whether or not the exploitative nature of the song trade may well be overwhelming — an excessive amount of, too quickly — for a lady in her mid-twenties who only a handful of years in the past lived in a continuing state of fight-or-flight.
Tokischa displays on how her previous will have ready her for this second: “I lived an existence that wasn’t pleasant. But possessing the strength to resist and to keep struggling for what I wanted, despite the fact that what I was doing was super uncomfortable. I feel that this moment I’m living through right now, beyond being prepared for it, I feel it is a prize for me. It is a moment of realization of what I dreamed of, what I worked for, why I did everything I did.”
She has no doubt mastered the artwork of persuasion, and her conviction is convincing.