TOKiMONSTA Could Not Understand Music After Brain Surgery

Born as Jennifer Lee in the Southern California city of Torrance, TOKiMONSTA is one of the most creative artists in electronic dance music, especially when it comes to making instrumental Hip-Hop. She’s also one of the top Asian-American EDM artists, particularly when she received a Grammy Awards nomination in 2019 for her 2017 album, Lune Rouge. What many people, including her beloved fans, do not know is that she had suffered from aphasia, which is a loss of ability to understand or express speech, caused by brain damage. According to a recent article from NPR, the level of TOKiMONSTA’s aphasia was so severe that she was unable to speak.

*Featured Cover Photo Credit: Bethany Vargas

The diagnosis

In late 2015, TOKiMONSTA got diagnosed with Moyamoya disease, a progressive cerebrovascular disease which constricts certain arteries in the brain. On the Wikipedia page about the disease, it talks about how constriction causes blood flow and later, blood clots. It then states that a “collateral circulation develops around the blocked vessels to compensate for the blockage” but then “the collateral vessels are small, weak, and prone to bleeding, aneurysm, and thrombosis“. Having Moyamoya disease could’ve caused TOKiMONSTA to not just have an aneurysm but even a stroke as well. After her diagnosis, TOKiMONSTA later went through two surgeries in January 2016.

TOKiMONSTA Explained How She Could Not Understand Nor Communicate Fluently

“I couldn’t communicate anymore. English, which was essentially my first language, became a foreign language. Anytime someone talked to me, anytime I watched TV, anytime there was a spoken word, it just sounded like a foreign language”.


After the surgeries

The UC Irvine graduate still bounced back phenomenally after she had her surgeries. After the surgeries, she later produced Lune Rouge, which later became one of her most popular and recognizable album releases. As mentioned at the beginning of this post, TOKiMONSTA’s Lune Rouge received a Grammy Awards nomination in 2019, with the award category being Best Dance / Electronic Album. Fast-forward to the present day, TOKiMONSTA remains a highly gifted DJ/producer who makes magnificent dance music by utilizing diverse rhythms that are different yet perfectly complement one another.

TOKiMONSTA Could Not Understand Music After Brain Surgery
Photo Credit: John Michael Fulton