Hot off the release of her debut EP Great Taste in 2022, rising star Miso Extra is back with the follow-up MSG. The EP is “umami for the ears”.
Miso Extra is the solo project and moniker behind the fast-rising London-based singer, rapper and producer. Born in Hong Kong to a white-British father and Japanese mother, the artist moved to Japan when she was a child and later relocated to the UK. Growing up, she learnt how to play the violin and loved to sing. Though she was musically inclined from a young age, music wasn’t a path that the artist envisioned for herself due to a lack of Asian representation in the industry. It wasn’t until 2020, during the UK’s lockdown, that Miso Extra was born.
The name Miso Extra is a pun derived from the racism that the artist experienced growing up in the UK. Having received taunts such as, “Me so horny,” for her dual heritage, the Japanese-British artist reclaims the phrase, flipping it into Miso Extra. She’s also an anime-inspired character; an entity who lives in an alternate world – namely, the Misoverse. Miso Extra is a peace-loving warrior who leans away from violence, but will engage in conflict if necessary. She chooses to see the good in people and values real talk, but isn’t so naive as to not see the truth in people. Miso Extra is hopeful; a character who values love and sees insecurities as learning curves for us to push through.
The EP MSG is named after the flavour enhancer, which is called ajinomoto in Japanese. It’s known as the root of taste, namely the fifth taste and is the purest form of umami. Following on from Great Taste, Miso Extra describes MSG as “umami for the ears” – a continuation of great-tasting sounds. It sees her double down on her melting pot of cultural influences, drawing inspiration from the likes of J Dilla, MF DOOM, Daft Punk and Kelis. More polished and slicker than its predecessor, MSG features co-production from Tricky and Duke throughout, while the opener 50/50 contains additional production from Joe Atkinson.
Rapping in both English and Japanese, the use of the two languages symbolises darkness and light. In the UK, most people understand English while a minority understand Japanese; in the Misoverse, English is used to represent surface-level joy while an internal struggle and deeper self-reflection is conveyed through Japanese. 50/50 was written in a stream-of-consciousness style, and it’s about going 100 miles an hour while being stuck in the drive mode. The opening track sees the artist reflecting on how she should enjoy the journey and take stock of what’s happened.
Space Junk is a breakup song, where Miso Extra gives herself and others advice on how to learn from the loss. R10 sees the artist navigating the balance between exuding confidence, not appearing to be arrogant and trying to maintain some humility. It sees Miso Extra crafting “sassy, sassy line bars”. Wise, on the other hand, is a morality story on overconsumption and the pitfalls we can face. While the closer bears the same title as the EP, it stands for “money so good” rather than the umami enhancer. The track MSG explores our relationship with money, and how much time is invested in chasing it. It questions our obsessiveness in gaining this capitalist commodity, and whether it’s healthy to flex about cash.
Great Taste saw Miso Extra heralded as “one to watch” by the likes of The FADER, NME, DIY, The Line of Best Fit, Vogue, Notion and more. It’s been played on stations such as BBC Radio 1, BBC 1 Xtra, BBC Introducing and Beats1.