If you are not familiar with a particular side of town of Houston known as the SWAT, Tobe is here to educate you. Tobechukwu Nwigwe is the first generation Nigerian-American kid from his family and happened to grow up in Southwest Alief Texas (SWAT), which is namely one of the roughest neighborhoods in the city. Tobe doesn’t necessarily look at growing up in the SWAT as as a negative attribute, but as inspiration for most of what he does, including his music.
With all the music that I do, I want to say something when I say something. Everything I say is going to be real and reflection of I am and where I come from. The Nigerian side of me, the Alief side of me. I want my sound to incorporate everything that represents me.
I first caught wind of Tobe when I came across his collection of freestyles entitled Get Twisted Sundays, where he dropped a new freestyle religiously every week. The freestyle that caught the city’s attention was his flow on Monica’s So Gone which garnered him thousands of views. Now Tobe is working on Get Twisted Sundays, Vol. 3 which will drop in 2018.
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His latest EP, Tobe From The SWAT, tells the 30-year-old Houstonian’s first-hand experience of growing up in the SWAT. And though the EP title is self-explanatory to the message, the journey through listening to the 10-track EP was far from simple. It’s safe to say that Tobe’s musical undertone is Houston inspired mixed with a little Andre 3000, but his overall sound is completely original and innovative. It also helps to have a close friend who’s also an amazing producer to help create the production of over 80% of the project. Shoutout to Nell.
When I first listened to Tobe From The SWAT, it was easy to get caught up in Tobe’s storytelling style to the point where you forget you are listening to actual tracks on a Hip Hop album. It’s more like listening to Tobe literally tell you a story. That’s when I decided that I wanted more – more details, more commentary – and of course I had to get it straight from Tobe.
We listened to each track as Tobe gave me his perspective.
What It’s For
People have their different reasons why they do music and I respect it. But for me, it has nothing to do with me wanting to be famous, it has everything to do with wanting to tell my story.
From The SWAT
Wanted to let everybody know exactly what it was like growing up in the SWAT, being from the SWAT. Not just being the young little hoodlum, but also my Nigerian culture.
You can hear African culturistic sounds in the production of FTS. Tobe also recently released a visual for From The SWAT. The recording of the video took place in Forum Park, which is located in Alief.
Wanted to let people know that my flow, my bar is what music should be (like). Water is essential and needed to live. I feel like my music is necessary, this is the water that we need, that the industry is missing.
Once Was Broke feat. The Tuckers
I just remember being broke and poor, and not just growing up but even after college when the football thing didn’t work. I don’t care what happens in life, but I shall never be broke again.
Wanted to highlight the dangers of idolizing money and having money be like your little demigod. It’s nothing wrong with money. It’s a viable asset, but you should never let it lead or guide your life. I’ve seen so many people fall victim to money. I pray that it never in my life happens to me.
Light Out (Remix) feat. Madeline Edwards
Light Out is originally performed by an artist named Madeline Edward. Tobe really liked the song and wanted to remix it. The track is also accompanied by a sample from Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good”. The message in the song is to his fiance, Ivory aka “Fat”.
I really loved this song and when I heard I was like ‘yo I really have to remix it’. The message to my fiance is that no matter what, you already know, it’s about to be what it is and that it’s going to be us. Stop trying to shut it down, I know you’re in your feelings, but it ain’t no light out for us.
Dogface feat. Dominique Green
Dogface is about my best friend from college (Dominique). We played ball together, but he kicked off the team and went to person on a conspiracy charge. I talk to him often and he called me one day while I wa sin the studio and I told him that I wanted to put him on the song.
You can hear Dominique speaking to Tobe at the beginning and at the end of Dogface.
Thoughts I had about me growing up in my neighborhood and just my life in general. It highlights the essence of me being from the SWAT so I feel like it was very important to put a track (like this) on the EP.
Houston Tribute 2 feat. Taylor Janney
It’s extremely important (to make tracks like this). I plan on doing a track like this on every project. I listened to Lil Flip, Big Hawk, Fat Pat, ESG, Pokey, Keke and other Houston artists – I listened to all of them. And I used to be so proud. I would walk around like it was a badge of honor to know all them songs and if you was real wack if you didn’t know the songs. I would really like to get Z-RO and Trae The Truth and some others on the remix of this (song).
Wish You Could See Me Now
Everybody has someone in their life that they either lost and it didn’t work out with or they were in the wrong with. And you just wish that person could see you now. How much you’ve evolved from that person and how far you’ve come. At first I didn’t know how be a man and treat a woman, nothing abusive, but didn’t know how to actually be a man.
My grandpa used to tell me to stay off the streets because I was going to be the one to take my family to the next level. And he was right. So I wish he was here to see me now.
What’s next for Tobe?
While Tobe From The SWAT is definitely an accolade for Tobe, he has much more in store for his fans and even more for his life. He’s planning on releasing Get Twisted Sundays, Vol. 3 as well as go on tour and simply providing “consistency”.
The Alief rapper also highlighted that he is marrying his fiance, Fat, in a couple of weeks. You can even follow the couple on their vlog titled Forever Twisted which gives an inside look into the couple’s lives. The vlog airs every Wednesday via their youtube or Instagram.