Burgeoning Nigerian, Canadian-based artist; TOBi released Elements Vol. 1, a solid mixtape series last month following the warm reception his debut album STILL has received from listeners. He explores and experiments effortlessly, bending genres like jazz, grime, afro-pop, hip-hop and R&B to produce an unapologetically soulful project. The project explores themes like Black Joy as an act of resistance in a fundamentally lop-sided society. He says ELEMENTS is not just ‘the album’, he sees it as his own Dedication (Lil Wayne’s) series as he plans to keep ELEMENTS alive for years to come. TOBi creates his own sound by blending everything he listens to, and drawing inspiration from reading dub poetry to create soulful sounds.
Recently, he announced his partnership with Same Plate Entertainment/RCA Records followed by the release of the lead single off the mixtape. He flexes his rapid-fire flows on the lively opener for the album —Dollars, and Cents produced by Ghanaian producer Juls. Juls adds a flavor of Afrobeats with the drums to compliment TOBi’s bold and colorful lyrics. The connection between producer and artiste is undeniably smooth and natural, setting a tone for how West African sounds are interpreted in the diaspora. “Juls is one of my favourite producers right now,” TOBi said in a statement. “We linked up at the end of last year and the chemistry was instant! This song is really bridging that diaspora connection, Nigeria to Ghana to U.K. to Canada. It’s a beautiful thing to tap into our African roots musically.”
TOBi turns pain into positivity and highlights our resilience as Black People who smile and thrive through pain and everything that is thrown at us as he samples Truth Revue’s soul lifting 1971 single—You Made Me Everything on the second track titled ‘Made Me Everything’. With soulful energy, horn sections and bouncy flows, he delivers uplifting lyrics like ‘The Pain Made Me Everything I am’ on the Alex Goose produced hip-hop track. It is followed by a slightly slowed down tempo, laid-back hip-hop track, also produced by Alex Goose titled ‘Conquest’. TOBi sings with a gruffy voice about his loss in a previous relationship, expressing his pain as a tortured lover and speaking about bondage in his lyrics. Teaming up with Hannah Vasanth on ‘Family Matters’ for a grime-sounding song about dedication to family, and the vices and temptations of life that it comes with.
TOBi introduces a vulnerable part of his personal life and experiences with love on ‘Silhouette’—the beautifully written love song features LOONY. The sound is velvety, with credits to the lush harmonies and soulful delivery. Silhouette highlights the insecurities that ladies struggle with, hiding their bodies and feeling imperfect, with a subtle assurance of being loved and adored just the way they are.
Drawing inspiration from a mixed-race friend—who feels like she never fits in because of her skin color, TOBi sings on ‘Beige’, deepening the meaning of the color itself, connecting it to the all too familiar feeling of being “never enough’’. A personal favorite on the whole album—short, yet so relatable. There is so much to like on the album, thanks to TOBi delving into important topics like the evolution of relationships, resilience and Black Joy, personal and career growth especially on Faces and Shine. As with his debut album, STILL, where he explored themes of vulnerability, post-traumatic growth, self-reflection, in Elements Vol. 1, he has continued to carve his own niche in the music scene as an artist that dares to dive into sensitive topics that are not discussed and expressed enough and make beautiful, unapologetic soul music that is pleasing to the listeners’ ears while triggering a deep soul searching moment for whoever dares to listen.
Check out the full Album here: