Tobi Lou. The name may ring a bell, or draw a complete blank. For anyone who has TikTok downloaded on their phone, they’re sure to recognize it with at least a vague familiarity from his song “Buff Baby” that became one of the viral songs on the app. Tobi has been steadily growing in popularity, and for good reason.
Let’s start with some basic info. Who is Tobi Lou? His actual name is Tobi Adeyemi; Tobi Lou is a stage name. He was born in Lagos, Nigeria, but him and his family moved to Chicago at a young age and grew up there. Before fully pursuing his music career, he spent two years playing on a minor league baseball team until he was injured and had to quit. In addition to his parents, he has two younger sisters, Tomi and Toni.
While the genre of Tobi’s music is technically hip-hop/rap, his sound is unique and doesn’t fit with stereotypical rap music. It could better be described as playful, chill, and fluid. The combination of his floating vocals and rap with mellow instrumentals come together to make kickback music with clever lyrics. Many of his songs discuss a relatable, real life feeling in the lyrics.
Tobi has released many singles, three mini-albums, and one full album. His three mini-albums were a series, released as Tobi Lou and the Moon, Tobi Lou and the Loop, and Tobi Lou and the Juice. Tobi Lou and The Loop features arguably his most famous song, “Buff Baby”. Not only has this song exploded on TikTok, but the music video has over 17 million views. The music video is entirely animated and is an ode to Adventure Time, likely what sparked it’s virality.
Tobi’s first full album Live on Ice was released in August 2019 and features some of his best work yet. It is also a great showcase of some of his most clever lyrics. One of the most popular songs on the album is “I Was Sad Last Night But I’m OK Now” which Senior Areesh Khan recommends as the song to listen to when first getting a taste of Tobi’s music. The most renowned line among fans in this song is “I’m halfway there like a crop top”. Some other iconic lines include “Little blankets for your feet (socks!)” from “Sometimes I Ignore You Too” and “Shout out to Justin, I’m a Belieber” from Waterboy.
Something else characteristic of Tobi’s music is taking samples from pop culture and working it into his songs. In “Crying in the Club”, the song begins with an audio clip from The Office that goes “Tobi now has the floor and he is going to try not to screw it this up, like everything else in his life. Let me rephrase that…” and then transitions into the rest of the song. He also has some samples from popular vines, and viral videos and iconic lines from celebrities. These references are just one way in which Tobi attracts many of his fans. His songs also do this from the myriad of allusions in his lyrics. Some of these include Pocahontas, Humpty Dumpty (which is an entire song), Mufasa from The Lion King, Copernicus, Queen Elizabeth, and so many more.
For Khan, what really made her a fan was Tobi’s personality. She says “I first heard about Tobi Lou from my friend, but I wasn’t an avid listener until I went to his show at the Observatory. Tobi was so sweet during the show and loved interacting with everyone in the audience. Not only did he interact with my friends and I in the front row, but he appreciated the people who came alone and people in the back. He even yelled to one guy with a flag ‘I see and appreciate you’”.
Something else that attracts fans is Tobi’s social media presence. On Twitter, he is active and engaged with his fans. He often quote retweets, retweets, and likes tweets he is mentioned in. Back in the September of 2018, he even changed his profile picture everyday to be a different picture of a fan, from photos people had submitted of themselves. Senior Ava Donaldson commented on Tobi’s social media presence, saying “Tobi has interacted with my tweets to him so many times that he seems more like a friend than a celebrity.”
A substantial number of Tobi’s current fans found him by recommendation of Vernon, a member of the K-pop group Seventeen. At the time of the recommendation, Vernon was a just a fan of Tobi, but soon after the two became friends. Their friendship has not only contributed to the growth of Tobi’s fandom, but also it has resulted in Vernon appearing in Tobi’s work. For one, Vernon was referenced in Tobi’s “Buff Baby” music video riding on Lady Rainicorn about a water tower that says City of Vernon on it. In the music video for “Knock Knock”, the beginning dialogue sequence features Tobi’s sister Tomi asking Tobi “Has Vernon sent the translations yet?” This hint at a future collaboration between the two artists came true when Vernon rapped a verse on “Looped Up”. As an ode to Seventeen’s fans (also known as carats), Tobi sampled the pre-chorus from Seventeen’s song “Holiday” into his song “17cg”, which stands for 17 carat girls.
For people who love chill and fun hip-hop music, Tobi Lou is definitely for you. Any song is great, but “Darlin’”, “Buff Baby”, “Troop”, and “Waterboy” are some starting recommendations. So if anyone is looking for new music to spice up their playlist, why not take a listen to Tobi Lou.