By Jenna | @Puckfledis
“Honestly, it don’t sound nothing like my last projects, it sounds a lot more mature. This project is a lot bigger, it’s a lot bigger,” 21-year-old rapper Toosii says confidently about his latest release, Thank You For Believing. This is his third project since signing to South Coast Music Group under Capitol Records. Hailed as one of today’s “top artists to watch” by multiple publications, Toosii is dedicated to changing the game with his deep, honest tales of life, love, and loss.
Although Toosii’s music may sound more rap-centric, he says he rarely listens to rap himself. Some of his favorite artists include Adele, Jason Mraz, and Tim McGraw. “Honestly, like one of my dream collaborations, I want to work with Billie Eilish and John Legend,” he shares. It’s only fitting that a wide range of listeners have been able to find something to connect with in Toosii’s music, which led to his explosion in popularity during the pandemic.
With a well-established fan base, he’s confident that anything he puts out will be successful. “Man, you can give me inhalers and I’ll sell inhalers to a motherf*cker who don’t got asthma,” he says. “At the end of the day it ain’t about what you selling, it’s about how you sell it. It ain’t about what you say, it’s about how you say it. I’ve got a fan base that loves me. This project is personal, so I took the time out of my day to sign 10,000 CD copies and they all sold out.”
Born in Syracuse, New York and raised in Raleigh, North Carolina, Toosii credits both cities for inspiring him on his path to making music. A troubled kid, Toosii used poetry and music as a coping mechanism. “Growing up, I used to have mental health issues, especially growing up as a kid, a young black man without your dad, losing homies, and we used to be homeless. That’s hard. I had to find an outlet, and helping me cope with all of that was the music.”
Signing with the label in 2020, alongside other North and South Carolina talent, gave Toosii the window of opportunity he needed to showcase his music on a bigger scale. Despite the COVID-19 outbreak beginning just a month later, he kept a steady momentum putting out music, at times in collaboration with other keen artists like DaBaby who hopped on the track “Shop.”
“DaBaby said, ‘I’m pandemic proof.’ I blew up in the middle of a pandemic so I can’t tell you what life is like without the pandemic. I can only imagine, like, if I’m doing this in the middle of a pandemic, what it would be like if the world is open,” he explains.
His big break led to three albums, including a deluxe edition, and a gold-certified track. The remix of “Love Cycle,” featuring Atlanta-based R&B songstress Summer Walker, from his first LP Poetic Pain, spent 22 weeks on the Billboard Mainstream R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay Chart. The song has a perfect combination of Toosi’s melodic rapping style and Summer’s sweet, sultry vocals.
THANK YOU FOR BELIEVING
Released on May 7 2021, Thank You For Believing is Toosi’s way of expressing his personal stories over the past few years. Aptly titled to show his gratitude to his fans, who he often calls his friends, and family, for standing by his side since the very beginning. With a mix of emotional lyricism and fun collaborative tracks, the 13-song album is a reflection of “who Toosii is as a person.” Toosii aims to share real life stories and experiences in his music and visuals. Storytelling and creative direction is important – you can tell Toosii is a musician that cares about every aspect of his art. For the making of the “Back Together” video, Toosii collaborated with director Joan Pabon, who has worked with the likes of G-Eazy and Mike Will.
Toosii connects to his Millennial and Gen-Z fanbase by being relatable and down-to-earth. Previously mentioning that he worked best just chilling in his pajamas, Toosii told EnVi one of his favorite things to wear is his fluffy robe that his brother got him with “Trust The Process” written on the back. “If you look good, you feel good, you play good.”
Comfort is key for him, but he’s open to change when it comes to making his music. Typically he records at his home studio, but for this album he mentioned that he took a flight to Atlanta and “locked himself” in the studio with an actual sound engineer. When he goes about choosing his beat he says, “ I look for what’s the new sound and when I say what’s the new sound, like what’s the new instrument. I feel like 2020 was the year of guitar beats. In 2021, a lot of people are going back to the pianos, but honestly, if I like the beat, I’ll listen to it, and do what I do.” And when it comes to writing, “I don’t write, I don’t write nothing, I freestyle everything.”
“Back Together” and “What It Cost” are two of his latest singles that showcase Toosi’s raw, passionate, and poetic sides, within two very distinctive sounds. In the “Back Together” music video, Toosii is seen walking through a house on fire going back to his ex. In the heat of the moment, they forget about their past and get held up in their passion, knowing they won’t work out. Not until he gets himself back together.
“What It Cost” is a powerful song with a touching meaning behind it, and the music video does well in depicting the story Toosii is illustrating. His experiences in his old life are juxtaposed with that of his current life. In the beginning of the music video, Toosii expresses with honesty how hard his grandfather’s passing hit, and wonders what would happen to those he loves if something ever happens to him. He feels responsible for so many people, and it only shows how much he cares.
Produced by Yung Lan, TB digital & Alec, “Greater Storm” is a definite stand-out on the album. Its lyrics talk about Toosii being an empath and taking people’s pain with him, something listeners can all relate to to some degree. Empathizing with others is something Toosii values a lot. “Any way that a person feels, I’m able to adapt to that. I take on people’s emotions hard.”
With so much accomplished at such a young age, one can only imagine where his career might take him next.
Reflecting on his discography, Toosii makes a cheeky statement teasing future projects.“It’s all a build up, it’s all a build up. What if I told you there ain’t no deluxe, there’s something better than the deluxe after?”
Thumbnail courtesy of South Coast Music Group.
For more up-and-coming artists, check out EnVi’s article on Max Leone and his new EP.