By Percy Crawford (@MrLouis1ana)
(AllHipHop Features) For those who feel that today’s rap music and its artists lack creativity and originality, the solution is here. In the form of Houston Texas rapper, Tobe Nwigwe. Nwigwe, a former division one middle linebacker at the University of North Texas have captured the imagination of many with his creative outlook on music, his original look and sound and his ability to think and rap outside of the box. Not one for promoting violence, drug use or a flashy lifestyle, Tobe, prefers to focus on, his marriage, his wife who he has nicknamed, “Fat,” and music with a purpose. No profanity or “N” words was a conscious decision that was made by, Nwigwe, so that everyone could “receive the message.” With back to back albums in 2018 “The Originals” and “More Originals,” Tobe has also dropped a freestyle every Sunday for an extended period of time called, #getTWISTEDsundays. A BET Cypher in late 2018 featuring Nwigwe has been viewed almost one million times. Now, Nwigwe and “The Originals” are set to take off on his first tour in March, “Tobe From The Swat!”
I had a chance to speak with one of the hottest artists out right now to talk about his NFL dreams ending because of an injury, being cosigned by Erykah Badu and Dave Chappelle as well as his upcoming tour.
Tobe Nwigwe: I just met, Black Thought.
AllHipHop: That’s how things seem to be shaping up for you. I’m sure that was an amazing moment for you.
Tobe Nwigwe: It really was. It’s a blessing for sure.
AllHipHop: Tobe, so they tell you that you probably want to look into not playing football anymore because of a foot injury. And you’re at the D-1 level at North Texas. Did you have a backup plan or was this a tough pill to swallow for you?
Tobe Nwigwe: I had zero plan B. I had absolutely no thought outside of the league [NFL]. It was the first time I had to ask myself who I was outside of, Tobe the football player. It was like the most depressing yet liberating moment of my life.
AllHipHop: You described that time as a dark period in your life. Was that part of the foundation for your purpose of making purpose popular movement, because at that exact moment maybe you felt you didn’t have a purpose?
Tobe Nwigwe: Oh, for sure. I had to discover what mines was. And for the longest if you would have asked me it was to make it to the league and get money, cars, clothes and a whole bunch of material stuff (laughing) you know what I’m saying. That just wasn’t the case. Once I took a deeper dive and realized who I was and why I do the things that I do and what I was trying to accomplish; really just what life is all about, I was able to move forward confident and with full authority.
AllHipHop: You were always into music, but it doesn’t sound like you were a born musician. In your opinion, how did you become so good at something that you didn’t see as your future?
Tobe Nwigwe: I promise you I just feel like I used all of the different intangibles and stuff that I gained from football and playing for so long; the perseverance, the discipline and the ability to get up and just do stuff that you don’t feel like doing. I applied that towards my initial love for music. I don’t want you to be confused, I always loved music I just never thought about making music. I have always loved all different types of genres of music outside of heavy metal; which I couldn’t just understand. But I always loved all genres of music I just never thought about making music. But, once I realized I had a talent in it even though I didn’t know how to make it, I just applied those same characteristics that I developed in football to the music. I studied the people who I felt like was the best to me. I took different pieces from different artists, I just put my own spin, and my own twist on it, kept it original, and stayed 100% authentically myself.
AllHipHop: Being called unique used to be considered an insult, but now in an age where everything sounds the same and everyone looks the same, being considered unique is the highest compliment. Many describe you as different or unique do you embrace that title?
Tobe Nwigwe: I definitely embrace it as a compliment just because we’re in a day and age where a lot of stuff sounds the exact same and everybody talking about the same exact thing. There is way more to life and way more experiences to life that can be talked about and I feel like just my perspective and the stuff that I rap about is just different because not too many people are rapping about other life experiences than the ones that are generally talked about.
AllHipHop: Rappers tend to draw more from their pain or being scorned, you glorify being married and your wife and you seem to draw from the happiness that is your relationship. Was there a part of you that thought perhaps it wouldn’t work or were you going to be authentic even if it meant it wasn’t going to be popular?
Tobe Nwigwe: Definitely the latter of the two. I never felt for a minute that me being 100% of myself wouldn’t work. I think… and I don’t even want to sound a type of way, but I said this in a song before, but I really feel like I was only lame up until 4th grade. I figured out how to influence people. It started off first in class and then school as a whole and then society. Really, it started in my apartment where I grew up in Forum Park. I found out a couple of things you gotta be able to do growing up in the hood, you gotta be able to cap, you gotta be able to tell jokes, you gotta be funny, you gotta be able to fight and you gotta be able to defend yourself. And then when you’re young, you gotta be able to dance (laughing). That’s the thing in the hood. If you can do those things well, you don’t even have to have the sweetest grades, you gotta have some common sense though. I felt like once I figured that out, I was like, “Okay I’m good.” As far as influence is concerned, I had to study and do some other stuff and study to get to college and all that other stuff. I never thought that me being 100% of myself was not going to work. I feel like I’m in tune enough with the people who I’m trying to reach and the people who I’m trying to talk to. I feel like I know what the language is and I know what’s tight to the people that I’m trying to reach and the people that come from where I come from and that’s why I do what I do. I don’t do it for everybody. My stuff isn’t for everybody. My stuff is for a specific group of people who come from where I come from and what I’ve been through; similar types of experiences.
AllHipHop: I feel and agree with everything that you just articulated, yet, you don’t use profanity and you don’t use the “N” word, yet, the hood still feels you. That in itself is a talent.
Tobe Nwigwe: I appreciate it. I just choose to use… I still speak the same language of the people that come from where I come from, I just choose different words. Just because I want everybody who comes from where I come from to receive the message. There are some people that come from where I come from that done changed a little bit. If they hear something a certain kind of way, they ain’t going to receive the message. It’s like Lauryn Hill said, she put a *mother-fer* in it so the ignorant people would listen.
AllHipHop: You love you some “Fat,” and you let it be known. How important is to have that strong foundation at home to continuously put out great music?
Tobe Nwigwe: I feel like it’s extremely important. I feel like it’s more important than anything I could do musically. I feel like it’s one of the tightest things in my life. I just feel like people been lying to dudes and making them think that marriage ain’t where it’s at. I think it’s the tightest thing you can be a part of.
AllHipHop: I love the #getTWISTEDsundays where every week you put out a freestyle. Was the concept behind that idea to just keep you on your toes and keep things fresh?
Tobe Nwigwe: Not just that, I feel like I’m called to shift the culture in a specific way. I feel like that’s part of it. I made a commitment before I started that I would do this for an extended period of time. I feel like it’s necessary. I feel like, it’s one thing to be talented and it’s another thing to do music and visuals, but it’s a whole different level when you can apply discipline and persistence and consistency to it. There’s a lot of people that are talented, there’s a lot of people that can do music, but when you start tapping into doing something on a weekly basis, when you start tapping into the different levels that we have tapped into to push this movement… a lot of it don’t have nothing to do with talent or skills, it have everything to do with will and for lack of a better term, just the want to.
AllHipHop: Erykah Badu and Dave Chappelle had a conversation about you. They called you “dope,” and in typical Tobe Nwigwe fashion you made a song about it called, “Dope,” which was dope (laughing). What was that like for you to receive that kind of praise from such prominent people?
Tobe Nwigwe: It’s phenomenal. For me, it’s better than winning any kind of award you could possibly win. For the people that influenced you and inspired you for so many years and have got the awards from whoever and wherever, for them to give you the acknowledgment and them to stamp you as dope or tight or whatever the case is, it’s bigger than anything that you can ask for to me. To say that I have influenced the people who have influenced me is a real tight thing.
AllHipHop: You are about to embark on the “Tobe From The Swat Tour.” Tell us a little bit about that before I let you go?
Tobe Nwigwe: Ah yeah! We start it on March 10th. So, right now we are gearing up, doing rehearsals and getting everything in order. But, it’s a lot, man. They don’t necessarily tell you this doing the independent grind life. Putting your own tour together takes a lot; especially when you’re an independent artist and putting all the pieces together. It’s much more than just rap and visuals and arrangements. It’s a lot, but I’m looking forward to connecting with the people. The most beautiful thing about the tour is we get to connect with the people directly who have been spreading our movement and our message, so it’s like I’m finally going to get to see all my lil long lost cousins. Go to www.tobefromtheswat.com and that’s where you can find all of the information on the tour.