Tobi Lou is a Chicago rapper from Nigeria changing the way we look at hip-hop, through the lens of art. Lou’s music is art, from its references to cartoons new and old, to its pairing with cinematic techniques, make his music unlike any other. He seamlessly shifts between hip-hop, R&B, and a kind of pop in “tobi lou and the Loop” and “tobi lou and the Moon” to solidify his style as uncategorizable.
Lou uses catchy beats and auto-tune create a world of silky sound. The snappy drums break down expectations of beat structure in modern rap, while feeling familiar to older Kanye West. The echo of words on “Buff Baby” resonate with Adventure Time fans and fans of musical diversity. “Game Ova” displays Lou struggle with relationships, maintaining his positivity in distress.
Lou’s positivity comes from shifting from Chicago to L.A. after an ultimatum from his mother between school and leaving the house, according to an interview with Pigeons and Planes. Lou doesn’t boast, he just produces music and art. According to an interview with Pigeons and Planes he is a former independent baseball player, which fell through due to an injury and led to his hip-hop career.
Trippy visuals from Lou and director Glassface deliver Lou’s style perfectly. The smooth pans of That 70’s Show in Troop and the slow-motion of “Blue” show the lengths Lou can go cinematically to set his career apart. For his That 70’s Show references in “Troop” Lou ties weed culture to a sense of humor and irreverence. The use of smoke, light, animation, and color in the video force viewers to pay attention to Lou. In “Buff Baby” animator Ronald Grandpey works with Lou to bring his stylized world of cartoons and hip-hop to life.
Lou creates a different representation of blackness through his interest in cartoons, mental health, and cinema. For fans of Rugrats, Winnie the Pooh, Attack on Titan, Spongebob Squarepants, Sailor Moon, and Mickey Mouse, look to Tobi Lou for a new perspective on your favorites. He challenges ideas of rappers being limited to talk about women, drugs, and sex. Though he touches on these, he does it in a rare way, by showing his lack of some and excess of others. He avoids glorifying drug culture, but instead pokes light fun at it while also enjoying the references.
Lou’s music is on Soundcloud, Apple Music, Spotify, and YouTube. Look out for his next series of short video releases leading up to his next longer release, “NUMBERS.” Lou has tour dates in November and December:
November 1 – Silver Spring, MD
November 3 – Baltimore, MD
November 4 – Charlotte, NC
November 5 – FT Lauderdale, FL
November 6 – Atlanta, GA
November 8 – Houston, TX
November 9 – Dallas, TX
November 13 – Albuquerque, NM
November 14 – Phoenix, AZ
November 15 – San Diego, CA
November 16 – San Francisco, CA
November 17 – Hollywood, CA
December 2 – Copenhagen, Denmark
December 3 – Berlin, Germany
December 4 – Amsterdam, Netherlands
December 6 – Cologne, Germany
December 7 – Paris, France
December 10 – London, UK
December 12 – Dublin, Ireland