Irony is his calling card. He turned up to Paris fashion week in almost no clothing, proving style is a lot more than just what you wear. He produces music that is disruptive, overwhelming (try Dostoyevsky) and sometimes offensive. But regardless of this, we can’t help but fall head over heels for him in this interview that reveals a softer, empathetic, and loving side of the absurdist genius.
Born in Estonia, the texture of his accent is as unique as his visual world that puts a Slavic lilt into Western tropes creating a fascinating picture of what was once familiar. Who knew a medieval battle could be a rap video? Or that a star might say I Quit, and work as a delivery driver for Uber Eats in his Lamborghini. Tommy is an absolute surrealist. His strangeness makes us question what we once thought was normal. Billed in the past as Kayne East or the post-Soviet response to Ye, we think he’s much more than that. He is the third way, produced by the dissolve between good and bad taste, high and low culture. We relish it like honey and marmite.
Listening to his music or sweating in the crowd at his shows reminds us Tommy is no mirror or counterpart to an existing scene in America. He is on his own hype. But most importantly, what Tommy does is make us feel that we too could be like him. The rapper winches the rockstar lifestyle into reach. He’s approachable, charming and vulnerable. He doesn’t always like main characters. When he jokes about having grown up “with the Gummo lifestyle”, he repackages his disadvantaged childhood, as an Estonian-Russian and therefore an underprivileged member in Talin’s society, into a film. That openness has buoyed his success in Europe. As well as trampling boundaries between East and West into something we can all identify with. Whether you’re in a deprived part of post- Soviet Tallin, Estonia’s capital, or a hurricane ravaged neighbourhood of fictionalised Xenia, Ohio you still get the same grimy drug abuse and cat- burning boredom. Tommy Cash is an individual, but he stands for something universal, transcendence. He goes beyond the usual limits.