The Outside EP is, at its essence, a return to form. It’s a sonic journey through my thoughts and inclinations and a peer into the process that inspires me to write. I’ve always felt like my topics and concepts stemmed from an external source, intangible, but ever present. My connection to this source has always felt strongest outside and in specific locations. The rooftop overlooking Port Au Prince, Haiti at my grandma’s house, the deep lush forests and lakes that span the countryside, the lake outside my parents’ house, the beaches that tug at the heartstrings tethering me to my native country. The outside is the center and all of my stories and creative impulses are catalyzed by its presence. Reminiscent of the indie lo-fi stylings of producer/DJ’s like Nujabes (the first artist to get me to seriously fall in love with hip hop) and the looming melancholia and booming trap stylings of contemporaries like Travis Scott and Metro Boomin, the production serves to blend the tranquility of the peaceful outdoors with the chaos and dystopia of modern rap.
Lyrically, the subject matter dives deep into ToBy’s range of topics from the personal to personified. “Osiris” is a front to back chronicling of an Egyptian god and the murder and betrayal at the hand of his own brother in their mythos (heavily inspired by Frank Ocean’s Pyramids). “New Car” is a tale of freedom and yearning, an ode to the unrestrained and ends in a plea to escape soul-crushing monotony. “Southside” is a thinkpiece on the psychological toll that success and stability can take on those who make it out of dangerous upbringings (much like the Southside of Chicago). “Play Out,” in contrast, is the 180 degree spin that glorifies the high life full of its sex, agency, and financial comfort. “Cascades” is the melancholy admission of numbness to a relationship that’s run its course; love is ever present but participation is on its way out the door.
Lastly, “Wishes” is ToBy/Reggie’s open soul: his doubts, fears, wonders, and worries in the face of his impending mortality (written and recorded entirely on his 26th birthday). In everything that it is, The Outside is a collage of feelings across space and time. Relatable or otherwise, its purpose is to achieve unity through specificity in the hope that my life and my interests resonate with the next artistic soul or creative pundit trapped inside the every man; yearning to escape, yearning to taste life’s cool breath, yearning to finally go outside.