Toosii has had an astronomical rise in what was arguably one of the strangest years the music industry has ever seen. Despite a global Pandemic, the American rapper, hailing from New York grows from strength to strength with his incredibly supportive fanbase behind him. Behind the artist is an old soul with a wealth of life experience that he pours into his honest and melodic songs. This is what resonates so heavily with his audience.
Away from the creative process, he is a business-savvy hands-on artist who is always looking for new ways to connect with his fans something which has served him well. We sat with Toosii before the release of his latest project Thank You For Believing to talk about his journey so far, his future plans and find out about what makes him tick as an artist.
So what’s your secret, you had an incredible year last year in what was arguably one of the strangest years we have seen in our lifetime – how did you stay consistent and motivated to achieve the things you did?
“Life goes on you know? That’s what I feel like, I can’t sit here and complain about what the universe brings. I’ve got to make the best out of what I can make the best out of. So what I tell myself is life goes on and then I do what I need to do. At the end of the day, I have a family, I’ve got people that I have to take care of, I gave up everything for this. I can’t just say, oh we’re in a pandemic alright I’m going to just quit rapping till the pandemic is over…no. For what? I just keep going.”
That’s a real strong sentiment, a really bold way of starting this interview. As I mentioned before you have had an incredible year. Now, your fanbase is crazy. And usually in the journey of an artist at this stage establishing a fan base includes a lot of live performances which obviously you weren’t able to do much of last year… How do you keep such a big fanbase engaged to make them feel so strongly about your Journey?
“Well, as soon as we are able to get back on the road we were doing shows, as soon as we could interact with people that’s what we did. Another thing is social media. I have a wild social media presence and I don’t really market myself I’m just being myself, I’m interacting with people I love, my fans.”
Now you mentioned just being your self, are there any holes barred when it comes to what you are willing to share with fans.
“Well, with life everything you do has to have rules, it has to have boundaries, that is with everything in life. I can’t go out into the world and burn a building down or vandalise something there are rules. So with what I share with the world, I have to have rules, I have to have boundaries. Sometimes I have to say I can’t do all that, I keep my relationship off social media, I keep what I’ve got going on with my family off social media, all of those things.”
So back to a point you touched on before when we were talking about what you don’t share and you explained how you view life and boundaries – is this something that gets carried over into your music? Are there rules there? How is it that you attack the creative process?
“You know what I love about music so much is that there are no boundaries, you can be as free as you want with music. That’s the only thing in life I can say doesn’t have any boundaries in my life like I will say whatever in a song. That’s the thing about music it makes me feel free.”
When I listen to your music that’s what I love about it, it’s very free-flowing which makes for an easy listen. I love how the narrative styled lyrics are placed in these free-flowing melodies, whilst you can take in some of the lyrics- it’s really nice to just experience your sound. I suppose every listener will take something different away from listening to your music, what is your intention? How do you want us to feel when we hear you?
“So I don’t write any of the lyrics I freestyle everything. When I hear a beat Its almost like I let the beat talk for me. I can put on a beat and it will literally say the words to me so that’s how I come with everything, I sit and listen and the beats talk for me that’s where the inspiration comes from. My narratives are real-life situations and I chose which parts of my life to talk about.”
Knowing you freestyle now makes perfect sense as to the free-flowing conversational style, there is often an almost stream of consciousness in your lyrical content, but it’s so concise and on the topic, it doesn’t sound like a freestyle. How are you able to still tell the entire stories just off the top like that?
“Growing up I always had a creative imagination, I have always been this way. I’m a Capricorn and I overthink a lot. In certain situations, when things happen I have so much emotion towards it, I have so much to talk about. I’m not the type to wear my heart on my sleeve, every emotion inside of me goes straight to my head and I think about everything which gives me more to talk about.
“I may have more to talk about in a situation than the average person. Something could happen to you and the same could happen to me but my mind instantly starts thinking a million things. Why did happen? How did this happen? If this has happened now…that means this is about to happen next..”
What an interesting way to channel overthinking into creating clear intricate stories that resonate with your audience that’s incredible, a great way to channel inspiration. Talking about inspiration, what did you listen to growing up where did you draw inspiration from?
“I grew up in a town called Syracuse in New York, growing up there we had what was called rollers. A roller is where you take the vocals of one song and put it over a different beat. So you would take a Jhene Aiko song and put her vocals onto a different beat, so honestly, that’s where my creative inspiration comes from.
“In terms of artists, I listened to my brother and my dad, that was who I grew up listening to. Being that we listened to rollers a lot, you never knew what the actual song was, so you don’t really listen to just one particular artist.”
What artists are you listening to at the moment?
“I like Billie Eilish, John legend, Jason Mraz, Tim Mcgraw. My girlfriend listens to a lot of Rod Wave I like him to!”
This Year has been crazy. Insane numbers, VEVO DSCVR, Amazon Artist to watch 2021 …have you always had this vision in your head or is this surprising to you?
“Nah it’s not surprising to me at all, I would be lying if I said I was surprised because I gave up everything for this as I’ve said. If I gave up everything for this I can’t foresee myself failing or losing, I always used to tell myself there is no plan B, my plan B is to make plan A work. How fast it came is a surprise, but I’m not surprised it has happened at all.”
And do you feel ready?
“My favourite quote to this day (I’ll probably get it tattoed) Nipsey said ‘Experience is the best teacher.’ So I feel like you go out into the world and anything you aren’t prepared for experience will teach you how to either: A. prepare for it or B. Show you, that you’re already are prepared. The only way you learn to swim is by jumping in the water.”
You’ve mentioned a couple of time the sacrifices you have made for this, what would you say is the biggest sacrifice you have had to make in pursuing your music career?
“I think one major thing in life my mum wanted for me was to graduate from high school. The biggest sacrifice I ever made was dropping out of high school.”
It’s funny to think that, to some kids who may not like school or get on well there this could sound like a dream, but you actually sacrificed your education to pursue a career, that’s bold. That’s a big part of your childhood to lose out on, do you feel you had to mature quickly to adapt to the responsibility?
“I feel like every day there is more room to mature. But I definitely had to do some maturing, I think my lifestyle did teach me how to mature, but I was already ahead of a lot of people my age simply because of what I grew up like and where I grew up at. But in life there is always more room for maturing I think.”
What is the future looking for Toosii, what are your plans… whats the goal?
“I want to go number one in the Apple Music charts, I wanna go top five on the Billboard charts, actually, I’m not going to say top five. I want to go number one on the Billboard charts too, I want to do something special.”
And have you got any collabs coming up this year?
“Yeah, I have a lot, Da Baby, Fivio Foreign, Mulato, I’m on Lil Tjay’s project… I’ve got so many features this year it feels like I’m on everybody’s song.”
Who is your dream collab?
Funnily when I asked who you listened to I was going to follow up with who would we be surprised to learn you listened to… but all of your answers were a surprise to me.
“My catalogue will leave you surprised if I showed you my Apple Music, what I listen to, it’s all pop artists I don’t really listen to rap. It’s cool but I don’t really listen to it like that.”
What’s your favoutrite song of your own you have made in the last year
“Probably “Choir Music”.
“Choir Music” is about the lifestyle that I live and how my grandma spoke my life into existence. She always told me I had a beautiful voice and that I should join the choir and now look at me. They used to call me deacon when I was younger, they would say I be preaching, they said I was an old man trapped in a little boys body.”
So my last question to you is this you get a lot of love from fans and platforms your art is being received so well by industry and fans alike. How does it actually feel? And have you had a moment to really look at what you have achieved and take it all in?
“It’s crazy you ask that actually because I was sat in the studio the other day with my digital team, we’re about to drop this project. So like I haven’t cried since I was 13 and as I was sat in the room, with Donte from my digital team and Kate my a&r, the lighting was dim it was a really emotional setting.
We were talking about life and he said what makes you go so hard? When he asked it instantly just hit me, I started thinking about everything I went through and I started bawling and that was the first time I thought wow I’m here, it’s about to go crazy. So I took a moment literally like two weeks ago.”
Thank You For Believing is out on all digital streaming platforms.