Haviah Mighty is on her grind. The release of her latest single “Good On My Own Tonight” featuring TOBi is just the latest track we’ve heard from the Toronto MC over the last few months. It’s a follow-up to recent singles “Occasion,” “Atlantic,” and “Obeah,” all of which have found the rapper spitting ferocious bars showing that she’s not intending to rest on her laurels after capturing the Polaris Music Prize with her 2019 solo debut 13th Floor.
“Good On My Own Tonight,” however, is different for Mighty in that this time around, she is sharing mic duties with TOBi, who himself is fresh off releasing his impressive ELEMENTS Vol 1. project. Featuring songs like the soul-drenched “Made Me Everything” and meditative and intimate “Matter,” it’s a sonically diasporic affair that builds on his standout debut STILL. Through contributing the song’s immediately catchy hook and a verse of his own, TOBi’s presence on the track is significant and “Good On My Own Tonight” represents just the latest time the two artists have collaborated together. It’s highly evident that they truly mutually respect each other and aren’t connecting to chase clout.
“It’s just a phrase, but there’s so many places you can take it,” says Haviah Mighty referring to the title of the song. “My verse is my interpretation of basically that statement. And we did talk via text about where we wanted to go with it. And I think TOBi has his own inspiration for why he wrote the verse that he did, but for me, it was like, ‘What does this ‘good on my own tonight’ mean?’”
Previously, the duo connected when Mighty dropped a formidable verse of her own on TOBi’s searing “24 (Toronto Remix)” last year. Mighty also spoke at UNPACK, TOBi’s initiative that addresses mental health and wellness issues among creatives, in 2019.
Given the duo’s penchant for collaborating, Complex connected with Mighty and TOBi, who recently relocated to L.A., to discuss the inspiration for their latest collaboration. As TOBi came on the call, he offhandedly mentioned he was trying to “get some balance” in the wake of his move and the comment set the tone for our discussion regarding the overall theme of “Good On My Own Tonight.”
“This song focuses on that balance where you don’t require anybody’s input, which I think is important. Before you can use your outer balance, your internal balance needs to be there,” says Haviah. “And so this song is largely focused on that internal focus, that introspective perspective, and just kind of like being aligned within.”
One thing I noticed is that you both are kind of in between albums, but you’re still putting out music. How’s your mind state, creatively, in that zone? A lot of the music that you guys have been releasing recently has been put out without being able to gauge audience feedback because of our current situation. I mean, how’s that been for you as artists?
Haviah Mighty: Yeah, I think it’s just a lot of transitioning in this time, right? With the world and circumstances being up in the air, it’s like transitioning in limbo. So I think it’s a big part of the content that’s going into the music, there’s a lot of decisions that need to be made. A lot of decisions that sometimes you don’t know how to make, because you don’t have the answers that you think you need to push forward. And so, I think it’s really like how TOBi started the call. It’s trying to find that balance and trying to figure out what you were doing before that made sense and retaining that, versus maybe what wasn’t the most effective thing and reworking habits, reworking routines, maybe reworking where you live—just a lot of different things to consider. And I think when you’re writing music, at least for me, I’m inspired by what I’m living, what my day-to-day interactions are. And so, with so much transitioning happening mentally and physically, I think a lot of that is working its way into my music. A lot of monologue thoughts, a lot of rethinking, relearning, reattempting. Just trying to find that balance and recalibrating, really.
“I really relied on whatever [TOBi’s] input was when approaching the song, as opposed to sending a song that’s done and getting a verse, which is oftentimes how collaborations happen. This one was much more from the ground up.” – Haviah Mighty
Now, for you, TOBi, I know that you put out ELEMENTS Vol 1. and there was also that deluxe release of STILL. What’s your take on that same question: How is your music doing in this timeframe?
TOBi: Yeah, well, the good thing about this pandemic is I’ve probably been more prolific than ever before, as far as creating music. The good side of it is just being locked in and diving deeper into your art, because there aren’t as many outside distractions. There’s not that many events and concerts and tours going on. So, I have time to actually go within and express how I really feel creatively and artistically. And now it’s just like, there’s so much music—it’s like, what am I gonna do with it? Because not all of it can come out, you know? So just picking the best, getting the best of it, and putting it out. That’s why I’m excited about this joint with Haviah. You know, there’s some fire in that song and it just has to come out. We can’t be sitting on all this music. Like, this needs to come out.
Great. And that actually is a great segue into talking about the song, “Good On My Own Tonight.” I’m assuming this song originates with you, Haviah, and working with your brother, the producer Mighty Prynce. Can you talk a little bit about how that song came about?
Haviah: In the beginning, I didn’t know if it was gonna be my song or TOBi’s song. So like, the starting process was very much collaborative. What happened first was I sent TOBi a couple options. We wanted to work together. We didn’t know if it was gonna be my song or his song, but we just knew we wanted to do a track together and we were trading beats for a while. And then one of them was my brother’s beat. And TOBi was like, “I love the melody on this. But you know, the angles are a little bit more trappy. Could we entertain this in like, a little bit more of an organic light?” And I was like, “Yeah, for sure.” I was really trying to flex my producing chops as well, and get better at production. That’s a goal of mine. So, I took one lead sample from my brother’s production, and I just basically flipped it. And I utilized TOBi’s feedback to challenge myself into hitting a different pocket than what my palette normally gravitates towards. So once I locked the production, he was like, “Yeah, I’m into this.” I left it with TOBi, actually. And he created the chorus idea, the “Good On My Own Tonight’ concept. And he had finished his verse as well. And then I basically took what he provided, I fleshed out my verse, and I basically rearranged the track so that his part could be the chorus, because I don’t have any choruses where the other artist is singing the chorus. I like the idea of a song where I kind of exercise that, so I got to do that on this song. I really relied on whatever his input was when approaching the song, as opposed to sending a song that’s done and getting a verse, which is oftentimes how collaborations happen. This one was much more from the ground up.
“I got my wine with me and a spliff and there’s no worries. There’s no cares. I’m just doing me. And that was the inspiration there.” – TOBi
So TOBi, what made you go there with that vibe on the hook?
TOBI: Well, first of all, I think it is how the keys in the song play out. You know, I got my wine with me and a spliff and there’s no worries. There’s no cares. I’m just doing me. And that was the inspiration there. I think it came a lot from how the beat made me feel, because I can listen to a beat like that on loop for two hours. That’s how I know when I want to make a song to something. If I can listen to the beat on its own for a time, I know that it’s gonna be hot. I know it’s gonna be a great song. So that was it for me.
From the perspective of you guys, based on your personal experiences, how important is protecting your energy and setting boundaries? And how are you manifesting those feelings individually on this track?
TOBi: I mean, for me, you know, I wouldn’t call myself antisocial. I definitely love spending time with people that I care about, and I love getting to know new people, for sure. But sometimes, for example, let me just say, “You know, tonight, I need to have this space.” And that space can be a physical boundary, it can be an emotional boundary, a mental boundary, you know? No text, I keep my phone on airplane mode, and I feel like I’m in bliss, some paradise, you know? So I think that’s important for self-preservation, so that when we do hang out, I’m giving you my best self; I don’t feel like I’m being forced to be there. I’m saying I’m actually enjoying that time. So that’s what that concept means to me.
Haviah, I’m asking you the same question, but the other thing I want to add to it is, you know, I noticed that even with your more recent tracks, like “Occasion” and “Obeah,” it sounds like boundaries and people that may or may not be who they seem are a theme of your recent songs.
Haviah: You’re right. Yeah. And even like, I have a song called “Antisocial.” Not that I am antisocial, but there are elements where I think I feel bad and feel that emotion in those time frames. I guess you would consider me to be temporarily antisocial, but yeah, you’re right. A lot of the themes in some of the newer music do talk about that. I think it’s because 2019 was my most active year as a musician, and, you know, we went into a pandemic in early 2020. So like, the trajectory kind of got stunted. And so I’m stuck in a place, mentally, since the Polaris win. That’s when I really started to recognize that there are a lot of contacts and artists and people in the industry and friends that I had even that weren’t quite what I thought they were. And I think once my business orientation became really serious, and I got really on my grind, I was able to discern the people who were holding me back, because I was on my stuff. And I could feel the negative pull of people not acknowledging the work. I’m not an artist that likes to talk. I don’t like to go on Twitter and talk about how I need my flowers. But I will put it in the music. I think recognizing the energies around me and letting go of certain energies and getting closer to the people who have the right energy has been one of my biggest successes that has helped carry me through a time like this, where you don’t have fans at a show to validate you, or to tell you what song you should drop next. You don’t have any of that insight.
So the people that I have on my team, they’re my family; these are the people that I think are driving my inspiration. I’m not getting inspiration from really many other things. And I think where my career was, it was very in a transitory state to where there’s not much I can do. Like, I can’t get out of my current space; I’m in the midst of a climb. So I’m eliminating everything that’s preventing me from achieving that climb. And I think it starts with people; like. there’s a lot of people that just had to go and there’s a lot of people that probably still have to go. Again, it all goes back to that balance we talked about at the beginning. You know, even TOBi’s saying, like sometimes I just can’t give energy because I have to preserve energy for myself. And then, when I actually do see you, I can give you that.
One of the things I was gonna talk about, which now sounds really irrelevant because TOBi has moved…. But I was wondering if you guys had met in Brampton, because I had a feeling that you both were in Brampton. You may or may not be in Brampton anymore, I don’t know, but did your paths ever cross there? And isn’t that where homebase was at one point for both of you?
Haviah: I don’t even know if we met in Brampton. It wasn’t me at first. So my sister’s husband is my tour manager and [TOBi and him] went to the same school [Heart Lake Secondary School], but I don’t think I knew TOBi until I found out about you through my sister and tour manager. When I went to Heart Lake, TOBi, you were one of the people to watch. People were telling me, “Yo, you should tag TOBi in your Facebook videos. He’s so good. You should get him to hear your music.” This is like Grade 9. I first heard about you as Tek Rhymes—before you transitioned to TOBi, when you were more rapping—and Tory Lanez on the same day. And one of my contacts from school was like, “These are the two guys from Brampton, and Raz Fresco. Him too.” And everyone was like, “Tag them in your videos; they’re the people that you should connect with.” Back then I didn’t understand anything about networking. So like, I followed you guys on Facebook. And that’s as far as it went. But I just wanted to say TOBi, you’re an inspiration to me. Like, the fact that we were able to work on two records in the past two years is a blessing to me
TOBi: Wow. Thank you.
Haviah: And looking at your trajectory, I’ve seen so much growth as an artist who is really trying to value the music first and value the art first. Like, trying to have something to say, trying to represent something in this industry, where sometimes you can get ahead faster if you just hop on trends. You’re the type of artist that has something to say and you’ve maintained your brand and your energy and your commitment to yourself and you do things for the community. And so, honestly, just to have you on another record with me is a blessing. Your career and your hustle for your dreams is an inspiration to me. And it’s not a blueprint, but kind of a blueprint, you know? A young, Black entrepreneur that is making waves and like, you’re just an inspiration to me, honestly. And even hearing your next drive is in L.A. I’m like, yo, congratulations. Please keep going. You’re killing it. I’m so proud of you.
TOBi: Haviah, I appreciate that so much. Those words, they mean a lot to me too. And yeah, like, to hear you say that, after knowing me for so long like that, that means that I’m walking the path that I should be on. And I’m very grateful for that. And we’re gonna keep going. And, likewise, honestly, I feel the same about your artistry. Like, it keeps getting better. And your hard work is relentless. It’s undeniable. I’m saying thank you for your work. So let’s keep going. For real.
Haviah: Thank you. So much.
TOBi: The song is very special, so let’s do it.