'The Outside': ToBy's breezy, introspective rap is perfect for a summer filled with deep thoughts and yearnings
'The Outside' is a beautifully-crafted EP that blends ToBy's external sources of inspiration with his inner monologue
Breezy, introspective rapper ToBy's new EP 'The Outside' drops on July 10 and it's filled with laidback, catchy and party-ready tracks about everything from stories of Egyptian gods to heartbreak and dealing with soul-crushing monotony to addressing the psychological toll of success to facing one's own impending mortality.
ToBy’s life and career have found him tackling entertainment from all sides, acting in multiple Buzzfeed videos to performing in productions of 'Midsummer Nights Dream' and 'One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest'. His upcoming 'The Outside' EP finds ToBy musing not only on these experiences but on all the internal and external experiences that came to define his atmospheric stylings through his multicultural upbringing. "It’s a sonic journey through my thoughts and inclinations and a peer into the process that inspires me to write," says ToBy. "'The Outside', at its essence, is a return to form. It's a sonic journey through my thoughts and inclinations and a peer into the process that inspires me to write. I’ve always felt like my topics and concepts stemmed from an external source, intangible, but ever-present. My connection to this source has always felt the strongest outside and in specific locations. The rooftop overlooking Port Au Prince, Haiti at my grandma’s house, the deep lush forests and lakes that span the countryside, the lake outside my parents’ house, the beaches that tug at the heartstrings tethering me to my native country. The outside is the center and all of my stories and creative impulses are catalyzed by its presence."
He adds, "Reminiscent of the daydreamy lo-fi feel of producer/DJ Nujabes (the first artist to get me to seriously fall in love with hip hop) and the looming melancholia and booming trap sounds of contemporaries like Travis Scott and Metro Boomin, the production serves to blend the tranquility of the peaceful outdoors with the chaos and dystopia of modern rap."
'The Outside' is an interesting and topical release that's truly fit for the times. Musically, it complements the harsh summer heat perfectly. The EP ranges from charging precision to laid back serenity, with every track floating like a feather on the vibrations of Miami producer oebeats gossamer's instrumentals, punctuated by ToBy’s earnest and effortless flow. The first single 'Play Out', released last month, takes the form of a confident upbeat party song influenced by the stylings of contemporary artists like Jack Harlow’s 'What’s Poppin' or BROCKHAMPTON’s 'Boy Bye'. The track features ToBy’s penchant for bouncy rhythmic pockets and witty wordplay, boasting his prowess as an artist and charmer going as far as to challenge his contemporaries to do better. The track’s stylistically neon and tape-warped music video was shot and directed by ToBy himself (with the editing done by Omri Efrat) using nothing more than his iPhone XR to capture the gorgeous nightlife of Shibuya, Tokyo.
But as gorgeous as the music and production on 'The Outside' is, where this release truly shines is its lyrics and the themes ToBy is willing to tackle along the way. Lyrically, 'The Outside' dives deep into a range of topics, from the personal to the personified. 'Osiris' chronicles the mythic tale of betrayal and murder of the Egyptian god at the hand of his own brother (heavily inspired by Frank Ocean’s 'Pyramids'). It gives way to the track 'New Car', a tale of freedom and yearning, an ode to the unrestrained that ends in a plea to escape soul-crushing monotony. 'Southside' unfolds a think-piece on the psychological toll that success and stability can take on those who make it out of dangerous upbringings. 'Play Out' makes a 180-degree spin, glorifying the high life full of its sex, agency and financial comfort while 'Cascades' is the melancholy admission of numbness to a relationship that’s run its course. And topping it all off is 'Wishes'. Written and recorded entirely on his 26th birthday, this is a song that sees ToBy bare his soul, including his doubts, fears, wonders and worries in the face of his impending mortality.
'The Outside' is a collage of feelings across space and time, crafted with layers that further expose themselves on each listen. Both relatable and illuminating, 'The Outside' paints an intricate telling of ToBy’s personal truths. "It achieves unity through specificity," he explains. "In the hope that my life and my interests resonate with the next artistic soul or creative pundit trapped inside the every-man; yearning to escape, yearning to taste life’s cool breath, yearning to finally go outside."