tobi lou is here to soundtrack your self-care routine.
Just this year, the Chicago upstart has released his tobi lou and the Moon EP, delivered a fantastic collaboration with Smino (“Troop”), and caught the attention of iconic producer No I.D., who signed on to executive produce lou’s forthcoming debut album. To keep up the momentum and tide fans over until the debut drops, lou has delivered tobi lou and the Loop, another vibrant EP focused on loving yourself through the lows of rejection, addiction, and general depression.
On Loop, tobi lou cements his mastery of shoulder-shimmying tunes; meaningful mood music that you can throw on while getting ready in the morning to tackle the day knowing you’re the shit. From beginning to end, the EP is packed with punchy one-liners (“Bitch I’m kobe lou”; “Fuck it, I’m gorgeous”; “I don’t intend on giving up”) that will have you feeling like you’re on top of the world.
With breezy production and the billowy quality of his vocals, it would be easy to let this project blow by without realizing lou is also doling out valuable life lessons. It’s not that lou doesn’t care, it’s that he cares too much and can’t afford to let in any negative energy. On “The Blue,” lou tracks the stages of grief when the girl of your dreams flips on you. He admits his shortcomings and lets the rejection roll off his back, but there’s something warm and endearing about the scene. On the whole, the tobi lou energy is warm and endearing.
At 12 minutes and change, it’s equally easy to blow through this EP without digging into the concept. Yes, tobi lou packed a concept into a five-track EP. tobi lou and the Loop, true to its name, is something of a short film, a la Earl Sweatshirt’s Solace. Not nearly as dark, Loop ends on the note of potentially wasted youth, and cycles back into intro track “Trippin’,” where the synths are gummier and coat a toy-box melody.
With that, we can take Loop as a commentary on routine and the danger of letting the wrong woes sap your energy. Consider the EP an extended carpe-diem poem from a rapper who’s “happy+extra sad” like the rest of us. Looking back, Loop also extends the narrative of the previous EP, tobi lou and the Moon, wherein tobi lou quits his job and follows his dreams.
Every artist has a creative focus, and for tobi lou, it's storytelling through juxtaposition. Lead single “Darlin’” is framed around pouring rain and heartache, but lou navigates the scene with an attractive grin. On closing cut “The Fun,” lou rocks over a syrupy house melody while detailing his anxieties over police brutality. The next scene features a “girl coked out on the floor” and lou’s concerns about his drugged-out friends—get him a J. Cole feature.
Both this EP and its predecessor are equal parts market testing and benchmark evaluations happening in real time. When you work in an office, you have a mid-year review, and when you’re an artist, an EP series is a great way to check in with your fans and hopefully attract some new ones.
As tobi lou gears up to drop his debut album, consider his EPs as the communal blueprint for success.
Standout Tracks: ALL FIVE