Tobe Nwigwe is a beacon. He wears his inner joy and sense of self proudly on his sleeves, naturally taking to the evolutionary bent of 2020, Covid-19, and the Black Lives Matter movement. He’s released his music without a record label, and in collaboration with his partner, Fat, and his creative partner, Nell, both of whom also perform in his songs and are clearly two thirds of one tripartite creative titan.
This creative team is spearheaded by Nwigwe’s blistering rap verses and charismatic glow. This Nigerian-American Houston-native is both humble and hardworking, driven in business, yet clearly such a family man. Whether his Tiny Desk Concert performance on NPR or this new concert experience made available to his fans worldwide, you get a glimpse into a group of people whose shared values, love of music, and insatiable desire to create propels them nito new opportunities and spaces.
Now garnering the fandom of Dave Chappelle (they played at Chappelle’s home as part of a private event), Michelle Obama, and Erykah Badu (‘cuz Miss Badu told me I’m dope!), Tobe Nwigwe, Fat, and Nell are on their way up.
And that’s part of the excitement around Nwigwe.
He’s doing it his way. He’s unabashed about what he wants to see in America, and his viral track ‘I Need You To’ has become an anthem for justice, both in political circles as well as inherently creative ones. Nwigwe is a perfect example of how being who we truly are is the only way to communicate the type of charismatic, transformative energy that launches the careers of socially-minded artists like Tobe Nwigwe.
As soon as I saw his single ‘I Need You To’, a 1 minute and 17 second minimalist track that is a succinct and powerful demand for justice on behalf of Breonna Taylor, who was killed by police in Louisville, KY earlier this year. As soon as we saw it, it was clear it would reverberate like Childish Gambino’s ‘This Is America.” It was raw, simple, and perfect.
There was no qualification. No explanation or validation. Just a simple, stark, powerful indictment of what happened that night that Breonna Taylor was killed by police as part of a disastrous policy and systemic racism. The reality is that for things to change, more artists need to be unflinching in their critiques, and it’s so great to see that it’s his belief, his sense of justice that is part of his meteoric rise, not the product of having been able to have gotten to the top without mentioning these injustices that need to be rectified.
As mentioned above, Nwigwe didn’t rely on major labels or typical promotion channels to launch this incredible band, music, and now, this incredible live concert experience for us to enjoy from our couches. As such, he’s been able to be uncensored in his music and his politics, consistently and unabashedly calling for justice in the Breonna Taylor and Elijah McClain cases, among others.
Nwigwe told Steve Harvey in a recent interview that he feels the time is ‘perfect for independents now if you have a vision.’ And Tobe clearly does. From releasing music consistently on social media, speaking his mind in regards to Black Lives Matter, or having his babies in videos and on-stage with him, Tobe shows that he really does consider his work ‘life music.’ The colors and lines overlap everywhere. There is no professional Tobe, dad Tobe, partner Tobe, musician Tobe. It’s all one thing. And that unity of self, of experience, of identity, and of purpose is one of the most authentic renderings of creative pursuits we have ever seen.
Tobe, Fat, and Nell were backed by some of the most incredible vocalists and musicians you’ll ever hear play, and what they delivered was cathartic, beautiful, and fun as hell. It also went full seafoam, with all the musicians, vocalists, and set design elements completely festooned in seafoam clothing and white adilette-style sides. And they’ve released almost weekly videos up until now in that same seafoam, at once making a color synonymous with an individual while creating an environment that cleanses the palette and bringing your eye right back to the artist.
Now that’s art.
Personally, one of the things I have been missing most about the pausing of the real-world as a result of Covid-19 is live music, so when Tobe Nwigwe announced this worldwide streamed live concert that he and his band would perform from Houston, TX was all I ever wanted.
The opening is epic. An image of the social reckoning we are living, segueing into a set that ramped up then breathed with awesome new arrangements of previously heard songs and quite frankly, three of the best back up singers anyone could ever wish for.
The concert was available via Dice.fm, a platform launched to provide live streaming concert experiences to fans worldwide, and it was just another proof that you should give this man and his partners all your money. The platform will be making live streaming concerts available online for the foreseeable future. It’s also one of those evolutions in entertainment that will most likely just get overlaid on our normal world – can’t make it to that show in Miami? Stream it!
Luckily, for anyone who didn’t have the pleasure of enjoying the live stream last weekend, Nwigwe is making the show available via a rebroadcast and just $21 gets you in.
Purchase your tickets here, experience this beautiful, potent, timely art.
And most of all, be able to say you supported art that was changing the America in real-time.
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