She’s gone from whisper-rapping secrecy to eyeing pop stardom.
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17 Aug 2017 - 2:36 PM  UPDATED 17 Aug 2017 - 2:36 PM

Trying to call an artist’s breakout often proves a futile task. Usually, the song you think will firmly push an artist into the mainstream fails to do that, and rather it’s the track you didn’t see coming getting the attention.

But, in the case of DAOKO, her crossover moment appears to be her collaborative number “Uchiage Hanabi” with Kenshi Yonezu, which has blown up over the past week. The anime-inspired clip for the song (below) has racked up well over six million views since going up on August 9, and looks to only get more attention. On the cusp of something bigger, this is a good time for the uninformed to get to know DAOKO.

DAOKO has always attracted buzz. Her career started at age 15, while in high school. She uploaded her music to the Japanese video site Niconico (then Nico Nico Douga), which found her rapping in a near whisper over hard-hitting beats, 8-bit bloops and more elegant backdrops. The attention, though, went to her voice. Sing-rapping in a muffled style not far removed from Sōtaisei Riron’s Etsuko Yamashita, she meditated on the sort of feelings and challenges a teenage girl faces daily. Her delivery, not to mention her decision to cloak herself in secrecy, including never showing her face, led to attention from established artists such as m-flo and TeddyLoid. The latter worked with DAOKO on 2014’s “Me! Me! Me!,” a bass-jacked dance number that sound-tracked a viral animation. Hear the song below.

Eventually, she had to land on a major label, and she put out her first big-time full length in 2015, which saw her continue to play around with the style that caught her all this attention. Eventually, she started eyeing something more, and started dabbling in different styles, from speedy dance-pop to post-”Happy” clap-a-longs. In the process, she started showing her face...a big step forward for anyone wanting to become a nation-wide star.

This year, though, has seen her most significant push yet, releasing a handful of well-received songs and making more public appearances. And it all culminates with “Uchiage Hanabi,” a back-and-forth ballad with the similarly shooting-upwards artist Yonezu (that fact, along with the anime music video, definitely have helped it become a YouTube success story, for sure). She’s now in a position to cement her status in the J-pop scene, not to mention make some noise internationally, as she’ll play Anime Weekend Atlanta in the U.S. at the end of September - her first North American show. All she has to do next is follow-up on this blossoming hit. Easier said than done, but DAOKO seems to be in a good slot.

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