North Carolina rapper Toosii believes that everything in life happens for a reason, or as he told me, “It’s all set in stone.” And, after this past month, I am starting to believe him. Toosii’s life story is nothing short of heroic, the artist having overcome obstacles that most would fail to hurdle, including facing stints of poverty and homelessness. Undeterred, this young man continues to push forward and fulfill what he believes is his destiny.
Toosii has been making music for approximately five years, but in that time, he has become one of the most promising, young hip-hop artists in the world. Since 2020 alone, Toosii released 4 studio albums, one of which – 2020’s Poetic Pain – peaked at number 17 on the Billboard 200 Chart. In that same time, Toosii dropped 3 mixtapes along with a substantial list of singles, including, “Love Cycle” from Platinum Heart, which is certified Platinum. And in July of 2021, Toosii surpassed the coveted landmark of accumulating one billion online streams.
The odds that I would become aquatinted on a first-name basis with this artist were not in my favor, and yet our paths crossed anyway. I originally chalked it up to luck, but a week before our scheduled interview, Toosii booked a last-minute concert in the city where I currently live, Minneapolis, MN. Toosii’s DJ contacted me the week of the show, and we scrambled to make plans for an informal introduction at the concert venue. In the end, I had the honor of speaking with Toosii before and after his performance.
In our initial meeting, I asked Toosii how he was doing. He tilted his head to the side and smiled with diamonds sparkling from his teeth. “Just living life,” he said cooly. In that moment, he won me over. Toosii is just as likable as he is talented, and it did not take too much effort on his part to convince me that this was all supposed to happen. A week later I sat down with Toosii on a Zoom call to learn more about this artist who is convinced that he is destined to take over the music world and who seems to be doing just that.
The last time I saw you was in Minneapolis.
Yeah man. Most def, mos def.
That was a great show!
Yeah man, it definitely was. It definitely was. I ain’t think we were going to be back together this soon!
It feels like fate.
Most def, most def.
Because I interviewed Johnny (Toosii’s D.J.) and I asked him when you were goin to get to Minneapolis, and he said he didn’t know. Then he texted me three days later and was like, “We are going to be there this weekend!”
Exactly. We were on the way!
We didn’t get to talk long, but I did get to say “What’s Up” and you told me that you were, “Just livin’ life.” That stuck with me. Did you ever think you would be where you are in life today?
Honestly man, I kinda always knew I was going to be where I am today. I feel like that is what is so special about my story and the way everything happened. It was like it was all written in stone. Before anybody else knew about it, I knew about it. You know, I gave up everything to be where I’m at today. So, I always knew it was gonna happen. It was just about when was it going to happen….Staying patient was the biggest thing. When I had seen you, and I was like, “I’m just livin’ life,” honestly, I’m just livin’ what is already set in stone bro. Ain’t nothing else changed, you know? I’m just livin’ what is set in stone. I’m livin’ life. I’m just here, having a good time.
Living in the moment.
Most def. I’m just livin’ in the moment…I tell people all the time, “…life is gonna be what you want it to be.” Life is about options, you know? I got an option to get up and walk out of this restaurant if I want to. I got an option to jump on this call if I want to. I got an option to get on this plane if I want to. I got options. Life is about options…So which options are you going to choose to make sure you execute everything that you want to execute? My life is already set in stone. I’m just going to make the right options, and at the end of the day I’m just gonna live life and breath air.
You had some significant obstacles that you overcame early in life. Does that affect how you see your life now or how you approach music?
I feel like what we as humans go through is what makes us who we are. You know? Whether it is good or whether it is bad. The past might have turned you into a better person or turned you into a worse person, but at the end of the day, in the future, there is always room to grow. So, I feel like my past definitely made me who I am today, but in a good way though. Because at the end of the day, I don’t believe in losses…I believe in life it is wins and lessons. There is no such thing as a loss. So, everything I went through was just lessons. So, I learned from everything that I went through.
How did you get your start?
It’s crazy. I’m sittin’ here with Johnny [Johnny Goin 2X, Toosii’s D.J.] right now. Before everything had kicked off, Johnny actually was my manager, bro. Before he was my D.J., he was my manager. So, me and Johnny was working together. I was probably like 16…Me and Johnny started putting everything together and making something out of it. But it wasn’t like we was doin’ nothin’ major. We was havin’ fun with it. You know? It wasn’t like we was goin’ and doin’ big shows and goin’ and doin’ concerts and meetin’ artists and all that. We were literally just a local artist and a local D.J./manager trying to make it out.
Just livin’ in the moment.
Most def, most def bro. Livin’ in the moment at 16. I’m 22 right now, so that was 2016.
Is that when you started dedicating you life to music?
I started dedicating my life to the music probably when I was like 18. Like alright, bet, I dropped out of school. I stopped playing football. I gave up everything for it. That’s when I dedicated my life to it.
Speaking of football, I read that you got your stage name through sports. Is that true?
Yeah I got my name through sports. There used to be a player on my football team who couldn’t pronounce my name well. And my whole family used to call me Toot. And like my mama called me Toota Butt and stuff like that. And my teammates started calling me Toosii, like trying to be funny. But, there was a guy on my team who couldn’t pronounce my name well, and he used to call me Toosii. He walked around calling me, “Toosii, Toosii, Toosii, Toosii…” And I just took the name and I stuck with it. It used to be like King Toosii. And then it went from King Toosii to Toosii DaVinci, and Toosii DaVinci to just Toosii.
Johnny told me you improvise all of your lyrics in the moment over a beat. How do you experience that?
Honestly bro, you would just have to come to a session one day and see what it’s like. You know? Everything on the fly bro. It’s all about how you feelin’ in the moment…I got a studio in my house as well, so I might be sittin’ and watchin’ a movie and in the spur of the moment I might want to just get up and start recording. And depending on my emotions…whatever my emotions are feeling like, that’s what I’m gonna be talking about.
Honestly, what I’ll say though about music – and a lot of artists might tell you the same thing and a lot of artists might not – when it comes to music, the beat kinda write for you. The beat has its own words. You just say what you think the beat wants you to say. So, I feel like that is how music works bro. For me, at least.
But you are aware that [improvisational rap skills] are something that ordinary people do not understand! Your mind being that fast in the moment, that is a skill that sets you apart from other people.
Yeah, I appreciate it. It is a gift bro. It is definitely a gift.
You are about to drop a new album. And you have said on social media that you will be dropping new music when the presaves of your single reach 100,000. Where are we on presaves and what can you tell us about this new music?
Yesterday (April 25, 2022) we were at 25,000 pre-saves, trying to get to 100,000 for the single. I got a single coming out called “Keeper.” That will be the lead single for my project…The album is actually already done. It’s coming soon.
Is this album different from your other albums?
This will be the best project I ever put out bro. I put a lot of work and a lot of effort into this, and it is just gonna be the best music anyone has ever heard from me.
Can you reveal the name of the album?
(Smiling) It is a little too soon. Just look for me to be hintin’ it.
Are you doing a full tour with the album?
I actually got a few tours coming up. I got to go steal some fans. You know what I mean? My whole career has been based around me stealing other people’s fans. That’s how I got where I’m at today. I went on tour with Baby and stole his fans. Went on tour with Summer Walker and stole her fans. Went on tour with Polo G and stole his fans. And now we combining them all and they all Toosii fans, you know? (smiling). So, I’m about to go on tour with Gunna and then I believe Rod Wave. So, I’m going to go steal some fans and then go on my own tour.
And are you going to be at Rolling Loud Miami?
Oh yeah. I’m gonna be at all the Rolling Louds.
But the Miami one...
That’s the one.
You must be excited for that!
I am. Most definitely. I most definitely am man. Because it is a blessing to be able to come back, you know. Because we did it last year and that was the first time, but the second year it’s like, “Y’all bringin’ me back, that means I’m doing, you know”…And my name just keeps getting higher and higher on the list. So that’s something, you know, for the artists that is something you pay attention to. Like, where was my name last year on the list? If it goes down on the list, I got a little more work to do. If it move up on the list, that means I’m doing the right thing. And sooner or later [I’ll] be the headliner.
Which artist do you want to see perform the most?
I think Kanye bro. I never seen Kanye perform.
Was he an influence on you? Who are your influences?
So honestly bro, and I tell people all the time. I can’t do no fake kickin,’ I never really had no big influences…My musical influences were my brother and my dad. My brother and my dad used to make music…I wanted to do whatever they used to do. Whatever they did, that is what I wanted to do. But, I will say as a person though, people that influence me, I would say Nipsey Hussle, just as a person and what he was to the community and to the world. That is kinda how I want the world to look at me. And, I gotta lot of growin’ to do, but I’m still young. So, I would say Nipsey Hussle…Kanye, definitely after watching that documentary. That inspired me, a lot. I will say he inspired me.
Who are you listening to currently?
I pay attention to what’s hot, you know. So I like Nardo Wicks, Lil Baby, Lil Durk…I like Rayvon…Rayvon is hard. Westside Boogie…There are a few artists. I like who is hot.
What draws your fans to you so intensely?
Honestly, I wish I could tell you what drew them to me bro, so I could keep it going (smiling) I don’t know…It might just be the personality. And for the most part bro, I just be chillin.’ Like, I feel like the artist’s energy really matters. I think it plays a big part of the energy that’s in the room, you know? If I come out on stage and I’m all dry, or if I come on stage and I’m angry, It might cause someone else in the crowd to get angry. And things might escalate…Everybody like cool people. The biggest thing is to be cool. Kick back and be cool. Who don’t like cool people? Play it cool as a ceiling fan, and everything good.
What are your goals for 2022 and beyond?
I think a goal for me…I want to get a platinum album…And on top of me getting a platinum album, set up for next year for some Grammy nominations and stuff like that. That will be major to me.
Is there anything you want your fans to know that they might not know?
I been layin’ low for a while, not droppin’ no music, just workin’ on the album. And when it’s an album you can’t put as many snippets out and drop as much because, you know, because at the end of the day I’m working on an album. It’s not a mixtape…So to my fans out there, I want them to know great music is coming. “Keeper” is gonna be the start of it all. And, I was really focused on making sure my girlfriend was healthy with my baby and things of that nature. But, everything lookin’ good, so new music is comin.’ This album right here is going to be the best album I ever dropped. I promise.