Hip-Hop / R&B / Soul
For 25-year-old artist TOBi, his journey defines his creative expression.
"I am the child of African American music, Yoruba culture, Western education and Eastern philosophy,” TOBi explains. “Like most people, every day I wrestle with childhood learned beliefs in the constant tango of learning and unlearning. Themes of religion, race, class, and survival circle my mind daily. My racial and ethnic identity have shaped who I am today.
”Born in Nigeria, TOBi moved to Toronto at 8 years old with his father. They were the first of his family to travel to North America, living together for a year until his mom, and siblings could immigrate over. The initial culture shock made TOBi aware of his physical presence in social settings, but music was his outlet to express his raw thoughts and emotions. TOBi’s childhood mingled Nigerian culture with American musical history—a swirl of East Coast 90’s hip-hop, Soul and Gospel music. At eight years old, he started rapping; At 15, he started recording himself. College studies including a biology degree and working as a youth mentor gave TOBi avenues for his intellectual curiosity and compassion, but at age 23 he decided to fully pursue his musical dreams.
In 2016, he released his debut EP, FYi, boasting singles such as “iNDECiSiONS,” a record that Pigeon and Planes described as “hypnotic in its twisting stream of consciousness, snaking across topics and ideas.” Two years later, TOBi began the year with momentum, linking up with Take a Daytrip (Lil Nas X, Sheck Wes, 6LACK, Juice WRLD) to drop “January December.”
TOBi released his debut studio album STILL in May of 2019. The project debuted at #25 on the Billboard R&B Charts and was featured in: Billboard, i-D, PAPER & more. STILL holds a dual meaning of persistence and finding a foundation in self-growth. While the sonic landscape of the album is diverse and varied, it becomes an outward reflection of TOBi’s inner-world.
Music gave me wings throughout this process and my love for all forms of life blossomed as I completed my undergraduate degree in biology. Now, I’m learning new things and unlearning some old with sights on creating great music.
February 15, 2019 This week's playlist additions include Dennis Lloyd's valiant return, August 08 and Smino's harmonious collaboration, Matt Maeson's ode to life on the lonely road, and much more.
Author: Yasmin Damoui
February 13, 2019 "In this song, I wanted to be open with my vices to show it's a prominent part of the human experience."
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