ToBy's Debut Album ‘L'esprit’ Is an Introspective and Multifaceted Journey


Though hip-hop's titans have spent the past year dominating 2021's headlines, anybody with their ear to the ground will tell you that the best releases of the past few months have actually come from the culture's more covert artists. From artists like SSGKobe to HVN, many of the musicians pushing hip-hop's boundaries forward are likely not the ones that you'd see on the cover of XXL, and ToBy is no exception.

Since his last project, 2018's ToBySeason: Genesis, ToBy has been quietly amassing a burgeoning yet devoted fanbase while steadily releasing singles and smaller projects like 2020's EP The Outside. And with his debut album, L'esprit, the Miami rapper returns with an eleven-track offering that melds together ToBy's disparate influences, manifesting as a unique blend of pop, hip-hop, R&B, alternative rock, and cinematic ambiance that you'll have to hear to believe.

Inspired in part by the untimely passing of his grandmother, L'esprit is a carefully crafted project that sees ToBy taking an introspective look within. While some of the project's tracks, like "2FUKKINCOCKY" and "Are We Ridin," sound heavily inspired by 2015 SoundCloud rap with a modern twist, others are more cinematic and slick, like the album-opener "Let It Go - Winter" or "Day By Day." Every moment on L'esprit's tracklist features ToBy's signature laid-back vocal styles, and whether he's singing on the atmospheric banger "Ghost" or rapping on the downtempo and minimalistic "Want Me To Do," he's sure to leave a lasting impression.

L'esprit makes clear use of ToBy's varied influences, experimental style, and penchant for genre-blending. At first glance, the Miami native appears to be the natural result of artists like Childish Gambino, Jaden, and Kanye West, but his near-ambient alternative rock cuts like the bedroom-pop-adjacent "Boyfriend" and "Sinners" illuminate a more decorated host of inspirations. Alongside every bit of classic hip-hop influence exists nods to bands like Paramore or Tears For Fears, resulting in a debut album that is simultaneously cohesive and unrestrained in its multifaceted direction. 

Listen to L'esprit below: