Yasuke Wants To Be Like Mike

East meets West in the Toronto rapper's bilingual lyrics and cross-cultural approach.


Yasuke walks a Tokyo mile in Michael Jordan’s shoes in his latest single Like Mike — showcasing today on Tinnitist.

Seamlessly switching between lyrics in English and Japanese on the fly to create something uniquely his own, the bilingual rapper takes you on a chilled-out sonic journey that twists the typical hoop homage. By channelling his childhood idol while also reflecting on his own rise as an artist, Yasuke’s introspective vision and grasp of world culture allow him to navigate eastern and western soundscapes with ease. His lyrical breadth takes center stage, with images of a globetrotting lifestyle that takes the listener to the neon-drenched streets of Tokyo, where he is joined by fellow rapper Rito.

The aspirational message of Like Mike is comfortably seated alongside epic sound production and a melodic blend of international influences. The music is brought to life by producer Casket:Jones, whose mastery of hip-hop synergy is on full display. The versatility of sound is affirmed by its thoughtful composition, making Like Mike as welcome at the club as it is in the gym.

Yasuke is the stage name of Toronto’s Tahir Grant Jr. He gained notoriety online when he was discovered rapping fluently in Japanese, a language he taught himself. His stage name originated in feudal Japan and belonged to a warrior of African descent who became the first non-Japanese samurai. This merger of cultural aesthetics comes naturally to Yasuke, who channels artists like Andre 3000, Childish Gambino and Prince to achieve his signature style. He represents a musical unification that defies convention and appeals to Japanese and North American music lovers just the same.

Check out Like Mike above, hear more from Yasuke below, and meet him at his website, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok.