Tokyo Vanity is a fun-loving, extroverted, millennial rapper from New Orleans, Louisiana. The 24-year-old — who, as a rule, doesn’t reveal her real name — rose to fame in 2015 with her viral Vine-turned-rap hit “That’s My Best Friend.” It became one of the most popular Vines of that year and was used as a staple for millennials and teens to showcase their besties on social media.
We sat down recently with Tokyo Vanity, who also stars in VH1’s “Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta,” when she stopped by rolling out studios to learn more about the rapper and her music.
Who is Tokyo Vanity?
I feel like I’m somebody who’s clever. I came into social media, and I figured out how to make social media pay my bills. I was more worried about currency than fame.
Describe yourself in three words.
In three words … Sour. Patch. Kid.
You’re pro female rap. Why do you think some other female rappers are stressed about their competition?
I don’t understand that ’cause, at the end of the day, I can never be Tokyo Jetz, I can never be LightSkinKeisha, and they can never be Tokyo Vanity. Like me being successful will never stop them from getting paid.
You were raised in NOLA, where there were a lot of mainstream rappers, including Lil Wayne, Birdman, Juvenile and Mystikal. Were you inspired in any way because they were from your hometown?
They were cool, but Mia X would more so be someone who inspired me [and] Ms. Tee even over them. My inspiration isn’t from New Orleans. I like Lil’ Kim. I love Kim. She paved the way.
You previously said that when you entered the rap game you were somewhat “over it” because of the misconception that everyone had to fit that Lil’ Kim-Nicki Minaj look. Do you still feel that way?
Well, I made that statement at 20 years old, and I’m now 24 years old. I feel like my destiny is already written. Like I ranted about the other day, you can’t help or hinder what God planned for me. If you don’t want to work with me ’cause you’re not interested in having sex with me, that’s fine. That does not matter to me.
In what moment did you feel like “That’s My Best Friend” should be made into a song? And what was the creative inspiration for the video that received more than 25 million views?
It was really just us having fun. I’m like the cuddliest gangster. I like guns and pink sh–. When my mind is idle, I think about pink sh– and guns. You know we were wearing tutus and stuff like that. It made me feel pretty.
You are a body activist and a role model for so many young girls and even boys. For a long time, there had been a lack of full-figured women portrayed in the media. How does it feel to be a part of that change?
It’s a great thing because I meet a lot of women who are not full-figured who have self-esteem issues about what they look like. To be able to inspire women, period, that’s like a dope thing to be able to make people feel good about themselves. Because you have to fall in love with yourself first before you can be the best that you can be.