1883 Magazine

Over the past years, East London-based artist Big Tobz has marked his spot in the music scene which led to him being named as ‘one to watch’ by major industry tastemakers such as Complex UK.

Taking influence from a wide array of genres, ranging from Nigerian folk music to old-school Hip-Hop and UK Rap, he soon established his very own signature sound which quickly gained him an ever-growing fan base. After releasing a series of infectious songs such as the Drake-inspired ‘Controlla’ or party hymn ‘Uno My Style’ , Big Tobz is set to release a brand new EP ’Still Winning’ which means he is not going anywhere soon.

On a sunny day we sat down with the humble rapper in the fancy Disturbing London offices, talking about music and life.

Can you tell me how you got into music in the first place? 

It was literally through school. I think I was in year 10 or 11, and it was like a classroom thing. My friend would be drumming and I was rhyming. I’ve always been good in English class as well, in poetry and storytelling. I always had a thing for writing music. But in year 10, 11 I got into spitting and had the classroom name as ‘Clashkid’.

‘Clashkid’, how did that come about?
Because I wanted to clash. I remember in year 11 I had a clash with Chip, his school was near mine and they had a big clash. From then people knew I could spit, but I didn’t take It serious until then. Afterwards, a year later, I got more into it again and started doing it in my area and went onto the rap thing. Since 2015 or so I started doing it serious.

How come you called yourself Big Tobz?

My name is Tobi, so all my friends call me Tobz anyway. They were like ‘Yo, Big Tobz, Big Tobz’. When I started to take Rap seriously I needed a name and Big Tobz sounded like a Rap name so I just went with it.

Did going to Uni help you in any way with your music career? 

Not for my music. I studied Animation, I have always been good at using the creative side of my brain. I was good at Art so I studied Animation but I was just about taking music seriously when I was in Uni. Uni was more about experiencing life and just living. I didn’t see myself taking it further. If music hadn’t worked out I wouldn’t have had any pressure and just do a Masters and getting a career out of it. But music is my life now.

With your upcoming EP ‘Still Winning’ being the follow-up of ‘Winning’ from a few years ago, how has your music developed? 

There were a lot of things I couldn’t do in ‘Winning’, or didn’t know I could do, musically. From then to now it has been so much better, the sound is better, the production, the lyrics. I see a big, big improvement. And obviously my life has changed as well so I feel that through my music in ‘Still Winning’.

In your new EP we get to hear features from the likes of Sneakbo or Don-E, how did the collabs arise? 

Sneakbo is my guy, we have been to the studio quite a lot and made a banger called ‘Sun Goes Down’, and wanted to get that on the EP. With Don-E, we made this sick tune and I thought like ‘yeah, this needs to go on my EP as well’. Originally it was meant to be an EP with no collaborations but I really wanted them to be on it.

How would you describe your musical style? 

A lot of people would say wavy. Very wavy and smooth.

Who are your musical influences? Who made you realise that you want to get into this music scene?

Before Rap I was into Grime. I gotta big up Kano, big up Lethal B. These are where I am from so I was always listening to them on my way home and watching Channel U and all that. But when it comes to UK Rap I listened to Krept and Konan, Giggs, a lot of old school rappers.

So has living in East London shaped your artistry, considering there is so much musical talent around there? 

Definitely. A lot of legends come from East London so that’s what I was hearing. It has definitely shaped me.

Is there anyone you would love to team up with one day? 

The UK music scene is doing great right now. There are certain people I have always wanted to get on a tune with, Giggs for example. Or from the US it would be Chris Brown, 50 Cent, Drake. These inspire me. America is listening to us now so anything can happen!

What I always wanted to know, why do you like your girls ‘Drunk Not Sober’ in your song Controlla?

When I wrote that song, a few people misunderstood. It was more like a party vibe, you don’t want to be a person that is bored. Everybody is turnt up, everybody’s having a great time. I meant it because I want you to be lit, I want you to be wavy. I don’t want you to be bored!

You have the EP Launch party on the 1st of February, what can we expect? 

It’s gonna be a party! We are going to celebrate with friends and fans. Also, I got special guests and obviously I am going to perform a few songs as well. It’s going to be lit! The project is dropping the day after.

What else are your plans for this year? 

I’m performing at SW4 Festival, and a lot more shows. Music doesn’t stop so we will still be winning – new music, videos, levelling up!

Tickets for the launch party can be bought here.
Preorder the EP ’Still Winning’ here.

Interview Antonia Künzel


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