North Carolina’s Toosii made the most of a worldwide pandemic. Signing to South Coast Music Group in 2020 – the same label as DaBaby – quickly saw Toosii on the rise. Internet hits like “Truth Be Told”, “Love Cycle” and “Red Lights” amassed the attention of the trap communities, but they also resonated due to the heartfelt content in Toosii’s delivery and lyrics.
Releasing material since 2017, the discography has been gradually packing out. Groundwork was put in with mini projects Why Not Now and Who Dat. In a matter of no time, 2020 highlights Platinum Heart and Poetic Pain took the New York-born rapper to 2 million monthly Spotify listeners.
To continue the momentum comes the latest mixtape, Thank You for Believing, a 13-track project featuring appearances from Big Latto, Key Glock and labelmate DaBaby.
We joined Toosii in a press conference hosted by 1824º to discuss Thank You for Believing, the journey through his career and what defines him as a human being.
When did you realise your career was going somewhere?
I dropped out of school when I was 17. I flew to LA and I met Jeff Vaughn, an A&R at Atlantic. Four years later he came back as the President of Capitol Records and signed me.
Coming out of your city, what challenges did you have to face?
Me and my momma used to be homeless. That was one of the adversities I had to face. We come from the bottom of the bottom. The rest have been lessons; I ain’t ever look a loss, anything I took was a lesson.
What was the energy like behind your latest mixtape, Thank You for Believing?
I locked in a studio with an actual engineer this time. I flew to Atlanta and recorded two projects in two sessions. I just lock in and make music.
You take a lot of pride in interacting with your fans. How important do you find creating that relationship?
It’s like having friends. You got some friends that’ll last a lifetime and that’s important. I want my fans to feel like we’re friends and build a relationship that will last.
“Growing up I used to have mental health issues. A young black man without your dad, losing homies, being homeless is all hard. I had to find an outlet in helping me cope with all that; and that was the music.”–Toosi on the struggles of his early youth
Did 2020 change the way you write and record music?
Nah because I’ve been recording the same since 17. And I don’t write nothing, I freestyle everything.
What has been the most challenging part about releasing projects during a global pandemic?
Honestly, I’m kinda new to this. I signed literally a month before anything happened. DaBaby said to me I’m pandemic-proof! I blew up in the middle of a pandemic so I can’t tell you what life like without a pandemic. If I’m doing this in the middle of a pandemic I can only imagine what it would be like if the world was open.
What do you look out for when selecting beats?
I look for what’s the new sound. When I say what’s the sound, I mean what’s the new instrument. I was ahead of guitar beats before they were popping. 2020 was around the time you saw a lot of people going back to the pianos. If I like the beat I do what I do.
What would be one of your challenges right now?
I ain’t got no challenges. I remind myself there’s somebody else that’s done the same thing or going through something much worse. It’s just life and you got to live through it.
To me it’s a life after this and that’s really life; this here is really death to me. There’s something bigger after this and when all this is over you just got to serve your purpose here. We don’t ever know what life like after this so what am I complaining about this life for?
“This project [Thank You for Believing] is personal. I took the time to sign ten thousand CD covers and they all sold out. We know people ain’t going to put the CD in the car, but y’all can hang em up or something. It’s all about longevity.”–Toosi on pressing physical copies of his new mixtape
Have any of your goals readjusted after the success?
Nah, not at all. I got big goals that I’ve set for myself. I want to do real estate.
Are there any collaborations you’d like to make happen?
One of my dream collaborations is Billie Eilish. And John Legend. But I just be making music, if it happens it happens and if it don’t it don’t.
Do you have a favourite song where if people heard you listening to it would be surprised?
Jason Mraz, “I’m Yours”. Or anything Tim McGraw or Lewis Capaldi. I don’t even listen to rap music.
“I wanted to be just like Nipsey growing up. If I got a legacy I want it to be like Nipsey’s was.”–Toosi on who he looks up to
Is Thank You for Believing a conceptual project?
It is based on one story; I tell it all, tell who Toosii is as a person. I feel like this project is going to be the one that sets me over the top.
Hope you know we’re showing love for you out here in the UK.
Listen, UK Twitter crazy. Y’all is bullies! UK Twitter be beating me up. But real talk, I love the UK, I can’t wait to come out there.
Thank You for Believing is out now via South Coast Music Group / Capitol Records to purchase and stream.
Photography: Marc Cortes & Nicholas Green