In Conversation: Toosii
At just 20 years of age, Toosii, the rising artist who over the past 18 months has flown to the very forefront of rap music, has proved himself as a global force to be reckoned with. Hailing from Syracuse, New York, the ascending rapper first stepped onto the scene through uploading a variety of tracks to SoundCloud that quickly started gaining views, and in turn a reputable name.
Catching the eyes of the South Coast Music Group, he made his debut with his ‘Who Dat’ mixtape in the spring of 2019 and it’s been nothing, but an up-hill climb since! Joining the likes of R&B heavy-weight Summer Walker on tour, to opening up for the likes of DaBaby, Moneybagg Yo and NBA YoungBoy, Toosii’s vibrant energy speaks for itself.
Entering the new decade with his ‘Platinum Heart’ album, to his more recent mixtape ‘Poetic Pain’, which since it’s release has gained over 110 million streams, Toosii has recently been championed as ‘One to Watch’ by Vevo DSCVR and secured a spot in the Billboard 200’s chart. Through intertwining a more intimate and relatable perspective lyrically, over an assortment of energy-driven and atmospheric backdrops, his melodic style has taken centre stage.
Clash had a chance to catch up with Toosii over Zoom, sat comfortably in a white tee, his laid-back presence manoeuvred through a variety of topics from his upbringing, ‘Poetic Pain’, Netflix go-to’s and more.
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How are you? How have you been finding this pandemic?
I’ve been alright, I’ve been chilling, and I’ve been blessed!
It’s not affected you in anyway creatively then?
No, not at all!
For those people who aren’t aware of who you are, please could you tell us a bit about your upbringing and how you were introduced to music?
I am originally from Syracuse in New York, I moved to Raleigh in North Carolina when I was about 13 or 14. My Dad and my brother used to make music and I just looked up to them, anything that they did, I wanted to do! I found music became a passion for me, that was my escape route, so I just followed it.
Were there any artists in particular that you used to look up to?
When I looked up to artists, it was more so about them as people it was never really about the music. I took from certain artists, so Nipsey’s mindset, and I liked the mindset that Meek had too. I live down South now, I didn’t grow up on the Southern music, I grew up on Jay-Z, Nas and DMX, those were the people that I guess you could say I looked up to.
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What was the turning in point in which you decided you wanted to take things to the next level?
I dropped out of school and I quit Football, I told my coach that I wanted to be rapper and he laughed at me. Ever since then, I don’t like being doubted, anything that a person says I can’t do I will go ahead and do it!
Why did you quit Football?
I just felt like that music was a better route for me, music was something that I really loved to do so that’s what I ended up doing!
You’ve had a pretty big year in terms of releases! You’ve dropped the ‘Platinum Heart’ album and more recently the ‘Poetic Pain’ mixtape. Do you resonate with one of them more now that you have dropped them, in comparison to the writing stage?
I feel like ‘Platinum Heart’ is always going to be one of my favourites, it wasn’t too forced or too perfect, it was exactly how it needed to be! So yeah, ‘Platinum Heart’ is always going to be one of my favourites, but with ‘Poetic Pain’, it was a little more touched up!
What do you mean by touched up?
It was mixed and mastered better; I didn’t really like that! It was almost like it was too perfect, with ‘Poetic Pain’, I like it, but it’s not ‘Platinum Heart’.
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‘Poetic Pain’ for me, really took you to a whole new level in regard to more people finding out who you are. What was the main concept or aim with this project? You have a lot of different vibes going on in that one.
Yeah! I just wanted to tap into every emotion that I could inside of a person. From going to ‘Don’t Tell’ that talks about sexual assault and things of that nature, to then going to ‘Psalm 51’ that talks about prayer, you name it, I just wanted to tap into every aspect that I could!
How long did it take to put together?
Honestly, it didn’t take long! Maybe a month, less than a month!
Yeah! I got a whole studio in my house, so I’ve just been recording!
Being an artist yourself, when you listen to albums, do you still listen to them in full-length or do you prefer to pick songs out and put them into a playlist?
Nah! I don’t really find myself putting songs inside of a playlist, I don’t really listen to music like that – it’s crazy!
Do you think that’s because you’re an artist yourself now?
Erm, I never really did listen to music! I just made it to cope with everything that I was going through - I just like making it! I’ve never really made playlists because I like to ride in silence, I’m not really a music person.
That’s so funny you say that because you’re such a big artist!
(laughs) I know! It’s crazy! I only just started listening to music recently!
Who have you been listening to?
Whoever is hot I’m not going to lie! (laughs) Rylo Rodriguez just dropped a project so I’ve been listening to him, Lil Baby is my favourite artist, Polo G etc – I listen to the people that I know!
Where do you think you are in regard the evolvement of your sound? Do you think you have fully found it now, or do you plan to reach out into various sub-genres as time goes by?
I feel that my sound is going to continue to change, I started off recording myself and lately I have been going to the studio a lot with different engineers - my sound will continue to change and develop. I want people to be able to hear my voice and think that’s Toosii, but I don’t want them to think that that’s Toosii’s sound, I want them to think “What is he going to be coming with next?”
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You are still fairly young, you are 20 going on 21, right?
Yeah, I turn 21 in a month!
See, that’s wild! I always presumed that you were a little older than that!
It’s because I got my little facial hair! (laughs)
How have you found dealing with this level of fame and pressure at this age?
It’s life! I’m kind of used to it now, I’ve always been popular – a little bit! It’s just being popular at another scale; I’m used to it.
Do you think that in some ways it can make you introverted, due to the attention you get, or people wanting to be around you more? From your social media, you come across as extroverted, you are always on live and joking around!
Yeah! I think that’s with everybody though, I feel like everyone should have an introverted side to them! There are certain things that people shouldn’t be able to see or know about you, certain things are personal. Parts of my lifestyle are definitely a lot more personal, but for the most part I am an extrovert. I don’t like going outside, but when I do, I will light up the room, I won’t walk into a room and be quiet.
What’s your ideal night out?
I like movies! I like snacks! (laughs) I would rather stay inside and play games, we could play cards, or jacks – that’s my ideal night out, and it’s not even out, it’s in!
Do you watch Netflix then?
Yeah, I watch Netflix a lot!
Plug us with some things to watch!
I really like action movies! I watch all types of movies, I watched 13 Reasons Why but I had re- watch it because I had to catch up on the story line. I like Luke Cage.
Are you a Marvel fan?
Yeah! Any of the Marvel stuff! I love all of those, I’ll watch all of them! (laughs)
Are you familiar with any UK artists or producers?
Not really! But they love me in the UK, I want to come out there!
You’ve been recently crowned as One To Watch by Vevo DSCVR and this year especially you have reached higher heights. What can we expect to see from you this coming 2021?
2021 is going to be crazy! I just want to keep putting out more music and videos and just continue to give the people what they want!
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Words: Elle Evans
Photography: Andrew Thomas Carroll
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