Toronto’s TOBi has always examined contemporary culture through a woke lens on his songs, never shying away from interspersing the personal with the political. His latest track “Don’t Touch!” features smooth production from Grammy winners Kaytranada and BADBADNOTGOOD, elevating his empowered musings on the hairy side of the Black experience to new heights.
Whether it’s getting labeled unprofessional for our ‘fros and braids, or having our locs culturally appropriated by Justin Bieber, for Black people hair is always political. No one understands this better than TOBi when he raps, “That’s a crown on my head, don’t touch that.”
“I wrote this for those who are tired of apologizing for who they are. I was inspired by a news clip I saw of two girls who were forced to cut their locs or they couldn’t go to a school. Hairstyles and bodies are often policed,” he explains of the song’s unapologetic message. “The song came about when I linked with Kaytranada after he heard my freestyle on one of his beats on ‘Sway In The Morning.’ He sent some beats and I cooked to this one immediately. The groove spoke to me right away and the chorus was born out of necessity and urgency.”
Kaytranada’s distinct groovy beats mesh with BADBADNOTGOOD’s psychedelic, jazzy sounds to make for a summery and danceable ode to self-love.
TOBi is currently up for two Junos for Rap Recording of the Year for ELEMENTS, Vol.1, and Contemporary R&B Recording of the Year for “Holiday.”