Edmonton rapper Tobias Morgan, known as Tobiasthehomie, stumbled into making music two years ago almost as if it were fate.
“All my friends were making weird rap/trap music and they invited me,” he says of his start. “I made poetry when I was little, so I was like, ‘Oh, rapping should be the same.’”
His first track, “DRUNKFREESTYLE,” was released on Soundcloud soon after. “Music has become so much more readily available for kids than it was before because it’s not hard to go and buy a mic; everybody already has a computer,” he says.
But with this ease comes people making music simply because they can. “The younger kids that are doing it — I hate the word, but they want the clout,” he sighs. “Let’s face it: with the right outfit, a good beat, and mindless lyrics, almost anyone could gain an Instagram following. (But) it’s a lot harder to create something authentic than it is to follow the crowd for attention.”
The challenge of being an artist in a society that often holds esthetic above talent is to establish a unique voice off of your own experiences, something Tobiasthehomie executes successfully on his latest project, the Love Letters EP. The six-track release is a hot-blooded experience that captures listeners with slow, hypnotic beats and sincere lyrics. The music feels classic and yet current, most likely due to the artist’s own fluctuating tastes.
“I like a lot of Nina Simone. I like old jazz music. But then again, my music (taste) switches to really new, ignorant music, too,” he says.
It’s the rapper’s particular point of view that makes listening not only enjoyable, but emotional. Personal stories are used to cover topics like unrequited love and depression, things that are often experienced but rarely discussed openly. For the artist, sharing himself through his projects is more of an obligation than a choice.
“I feel like everything you do is going to come to (people knowing) anyway, just because of the internet and it’s who we are as people,” he says.
The authenticity of this EP is not only found within its content, but in the artist’s approach to making it. A busy student at the U of A, Tobiasthehomie currently considers music as “more of a passion” than anything else.
“You always have to know that you have to have a backup plan,” he says. “Soundcloud plays don’t really pay the bills.”
It’s this creation of music for no other reason than enjoyment and self-expression that give his work a certain intimacy. This intimacy also comes from his solo approach.
“There are a lot of people to collaborate with in the city; I just don’t find myself going out to collaborate,” Morgan says.
His projects rarely feature other artists. Apart from “Slide Thru,” which features Lux, Love Letters EP is an individual effort. “I’ve collaborated with two to three people in the city, and that’s as much as I want to do,” he says.
Music isn’t the only art form that Tobias is exploring — he’s also an avid photographer and sketches when he gets the chance. “I’m just a scatter-brained person,” he says.
“I like to do a lot because no one’s always inspired to do music.”