In convo with TOMM¥ €A$H
The weirdly fascinating Estonian artist making rap-rave amazingness. Fuck ¥€$!
In the past few years there’s been a crazy fuss and fascination with post-Soviet aesthetics. From Gosha Rubchinskiy’s band of ruffian skater boys and Demna Gvasalia’s (VETEMENTS) doofy dernier cri to Russian shutterbug Egor Rogalev’s roughshod photorealism — it all has an aura of mystique, ironic coolness and some kind of non-Western ‘otherness.’
Enter Tomm¥ Ca$h, the Baltic-bred baller and conceptual artist making rap-rave euphoria. Fusing post-Soviet vibes with kooky surrealism, atavistic commotion and tongue-in-cheek insanity, Tomm¥ hits you with high-caliber aesthetic hollow-points, ear-splitting electronica and no-nonsense sex & drugs rap (‘Pussy Money Weed’ is one of his it-est tracks — watch the mind-blowing vid now! ‘Winaloto‘ is sick, too!).
Experiencing his work is a bit like looking at some skitzo scene dreamt up by Tarantino, Lynch and Kafka combined; fact and fiction flip-flop, pop culture gets warped; interpretive possibilities multiply; the subconscious explodes. Throughout his oeuvre Tomm¥ hovers around like an extraterrestrial emperor emitting waves of visual, psychic and erotic power.
Like Die Antwoord meets Tyler, the Creator meets FACE, Tomm¥ blends fantastical poetics with phantasmagorical optics to produce artistic singularities. His polymath charisma attracts a legion of fans and freaks alike, including FKA twigs, Kanye, Michèle Lamy, MC Bin Laden and more. Devotees have even dubbed him the ‘Kanye of the East’, or ‘Kanye East.’
Hailing from the slumdog precincts of Tallinn, he is the ultimate synergy of hip hop grit, experimental sound and DIY moxie. The Borat-accented (he is ¼ Kazakh and talks like it — listen to him chat up Texans, LoL!), Rick Owens-worshipping, wilin’ out rapper, has us hopelessly, habitually hooked for life.
His freaky fashion, random rat-tails, oddball stache and psychotropic tang all add up to a crowd-pleasing, heat-seeking, superstar avatar stretching spacetime and rejiggering rap. This is post-CCCP pop on a whole new level. Check it…
Where are you from?
Where is that?
Near Finland, Sweden, Latvia and Russia. Duh.
What are you gonna do if Russia invades your country?
Call up NATO.
Is ‘Tommy Cash’ your real name?
Yeah. But before ‘Tommy Cash’ I was ‘Tomas Tammemets.’
How did you get into the music/art game?
I got into the music scene via dance. When I was about 15 I immersed myself in a hip-hop dance course with some bitches I know. I’d hang with b-boy bros everyday and practice freestyle dance til the wee hours. Sometimes I stayed up all night and missed school the next day or went in late. I eventually dropped out of school. Dance and music were the catalysts for me.
When did you start spitting?
A little later I started to write-out lyrics, incorporating versus into my routines. It became my art form. I think lyrics and poetry are the pinnacles of artistic expression. I began to combine dance and rap into one form. It blossomed from there.
What are some of your key influences?
Painting is one. I love Salvador Dalí and surreal art. Hip-hop culture and streetwear have influenced me a ton, too. Writing graffiti and evading the cops are other notable influences. I’m really into Takashi Murakami and Kaws — they are like modern-day Warhols. My guido stache is inspired by Dali, ya know. I’m also into Dave LaChapelle, Kanye, and a bunch of underground artists. Rick Owens and Michèle Lamy are cool for sure! Punk rock, too!
What’s the deal with your horse?
Well, most hip-hop artists tend to show off their cars and bling and shit like that. I got a horse. My horse is pricier and pimper than their cars anyway. They are pussies with their little Lamborghinis, etc. Fuck ‘em. My horse’s name is ‘Respect.’
Um, how did you get into the equestrian life?
It’s ironic, ya know. I’m a city boy. I grew up around Tallinn and my family never had a country crib to hang at. I was stuck in the city; I was basically confined to my house — it was the furthest I could go. A few years ago I met this girl, she was working with me on Euroz, Dollaz, Yeniz, etc. Her name is Anna and she took me to hang with horses. I got hooked on riding. I feel like an Arabian prince and shit; it makes me feel like I can tame nature. It’s an epic feeling, almost like a spiritual or paranormal power. It’s dope.
What do you do in your spare time?
I freestyle dance with hot bitches, practice krumping and invent new forms of break-dancing.
What else are you into?
Puffing trees. I think Estonia will decriminalize weed one day soon. That’ll be great. If that happens, I’m gonna set up a Tomm¥ Ca$h Weed/vape shop and kill it as an entrepreneur. No doubt customers would drive all the way from from Ufa and Moscow to get that shit. Mushrooms are cool, too. I’m also exhibiting art at Kumu in Tallinn soon. It’s a collab with Daddy Rick featuring my sperm samples and other cool artworks. I provided over 1 million sperm cells. I call it ‘One Million in Cash.’
Describe the hood you grew up in.
I grew up in Kopli. It’s gross like Detroit with all tiny, rotting wooden houses and there was always a bad smell on the street. A lot of junkies, zombies and sick as fuck graffiti.
You are really into fashion. Where did you get your sense of style?
Inside myself. I’m big into streetwear and artisanal brands, especially Bernhard Willhelm, Margiela, Rick, Craig Green, Gosha/Гоша Рубчинский, and my own shit. I even sell merch now.
What do you think about all the hype around ‘post-Soviet’ everything lately?
It’s just a fucking fad and bad Babushka shit. The whole aesthetic is derived from Soviet heritage, which is trashy and poor. It’s a trend because a few artists and designers from the Eastern Bloc are breaking out now. That’s cool and all, but it’s basically meaningless as an aesthetic to aspire toward. My thing is to filter it, purify it, and see it in a different light — musically, artistically and fashion-wise.
What are your future plans?
To work hard as fuck and make high quality music, visuals and modern-day Dada energy vortexes.
Photography TOMM¥ €A$H
$HOP TOMM¥‘s gear → here
VIVISXN MEDIA – TOMM¥ €A$H + Art + Fashion + Tech + Music + Pop Culture + 深度学习 + AI + Machine Learning + 音乐时尚 + 艺术 + 高科技 + 流行文化 + 大众文化 + 前卫艺术 + Estonian Rap + Tommy Cash + Post-Soviet Rap + Surreal Art + Hybrid Hip-Hop + Chillwave + InsaneWave + Communist Bloc + Eastern Bloc + Chernobyl Rap + Гоша Рубчинский + PC Music London + First Forays + Rick Owens + Sperm Art + Bernhard Willhelm + MC Bin Laden + FKA twigs + Kanye West + VIVISXN loves TOMM¥ €A$H + Tommy Cash World + ‘Kanye East’ + Boys Noize + PC Music + A.G. Cook + Vengaboys