Nigerian-Canadian rapper TOBi has released his sophomore album, Elements Vol. 1, taking us through a journey of multiple genres, cultural influences and sharp lyricism. TOBi creates multiple perspectives with collaborations from a wide range of artists such as Juls, LOONY, Harrison, Sango and Wax Roof.
The first track, “Dollas and Cents” featuring Juls, sets the tone of the album as a fresh commentary on racial, social and political issues with production that doesn’t make it feel too heavy. The detailed elements are reminiscent of a Pharrell or Anderson .Paak record, but with plenty of moments unique to TOBI. “The gatekeepers changing the locks // We ain’t in the building // But I know how to break in the house,” is a standout lyric from this opening track.
“Made Me Everything” is the second track from Elements and is also a promoted single with an amazing music video visual. Tons of pop culture references are sprinkled throughout the lyrics. In the first verse, TOBi tips his hat to icons Usher, David Hasselhoff and Eli Manning. With triumphant production — including a joyous repetitive trumpet — TOBi raps about feeling misunderstood as someone who struggled to succeed. He also comments on the Black experience with clever lyricism like, “Well spoken for a Black man // That’s how you serve a compliment with your backhand.”
In “Conquest,” TOBi brings the energy down to a smoother R&B tone. He also shows off different parts of his vocal abilities, singing more than rapping. The use of creative imagery to describe a relationship that ended in heartbreak is hypnotizing. In the next track, “Family Matters,” TOBi gets extremely personal about family and personal struggles. He sings about sobriety and how he would do anything for his family.
The second feature on the album, “Silhouette,” featuring Loony, is a song about falling in love and the fears that come with it. Adding in Loony’s feminine vocals makes it a raw, honest duet. “Beige,” featuring Harrison, is definitely a standout track. TOBi uses color imagery in unique ways. Some of his best lyricism is on display in this track with killer one-liners like, “But I remember I was in a threesome with my bills and all my student loans.”
The lyrics get more emotional than ever on the next track, “Shine.” TOBi raps about forgiveness, childhood and fears of ending up like the people who hurt him. Nearing the end of the album, “Faces,” featuring Sango and Wax Roof, brings the energy down a bit but not without an inspiring message. The second to last track, “Matter,” is a sensual love song with an addictive saxophone.
In the last track, “Still Singing,” TOBi encapsulates all of the themes mentioned throughout the album. He sings about hardship, kindness, family and the price of fame. It’s a heartfelt closing track, leaving listeners with the message that — no matter what — music will always be TOBI’s way of expressing himself.
In an impressive sophomore album, TOBi shows every facet of his personality, journey and values. Elements Vol. 1 is a strong body of work with clever lyrics, stunning production and tons of heart. If there’s a Volume 2 in the works, we are certainly looking forward to it
Featured Image: Same Plate Entertainment/RCA Records