ToBy: The Outside (Magnetic Moon) Review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Wednesday, September 23rd, 2020  

ToBy

The Outside

Magnetic Moon

Aug 11, 2020 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


Miami rapper and actor ToBy sketches a warped summer daydream on The Outside. His smooth flow and the sunburnt trap beats set the backdrop for stories that range from reflections on Egyptian mythology to the tolls of excess and meditations on mortality. ToBy bares his heart and fears on this album, offering a level of vulnerability that draws listeners in past the summery energy of the production.

“Osiris” sets the mood with birdsong and piano, a carefree tone that ToBy quickly bursts through with one of the most lively flows on the EP. ToBy undertakes a modern retelling of the betrayal of the Egyptian god Osiris by his brother Set. It is unusual territory for an opener but it quickly grabs the listener’s attention with a solid hook. The track also shows ToBy’s abilities as a storyteller as he draws out the paranoia of Osiris and ambition of Set in his delivery.

The themes of betrayal and violence return later with “Southside,” as ToBy looks inward to the personal costs of success. Here there are no narrative framings, just a stark look from ToBy at the prices those around him pay to survive. His raw perspective shows a darker side to the EP that makes explicit the melancholia most of the record hints at. It makes for one of the strongest moments on the EP, though it is undercut somewhat by being followed by “Play Out,” the closest to a party track the EP has to offer. It’s upbeat flow and witty wordplay bring up the energy on the EP but also make it stick out in the tracklist. It works well as a single but its placement wedged in between two of the most introspective cuts on the EP blunts the impact of the songs around it. 

The final two tracks on the EP, “Cascades” and “Wishes,” are both dreamy cuts that bring out the softer edge to ToBy’s music as the instrumentals stray from Metro Boomin-influenced trap beats towards a hazy lo-fi sound. ToBy’s singing isn’t quite as engaging as his rapping, but the naked emotion he shows as he sings about a deteriorating relationship on “Cascades” fit well with the track’s relaxed energy and underlying sadness. Closing track “Wishes” sees ToBy engaging with a frustrating sense of monotony and emptiness as he contemplates mortality. It is a rather sedate track to end on, but if you look for some existential angst with your summer lo-fi hip hop, ToBy delivers. 

The Outside is an enjoyable, if occasionally inconsistent, window into ToBy’s world. It succeeds best when it lets ToBy’s experiences and struggles speak for themselves. Those tracks set an alluring mood that alternates between brash ambition and raw honesty about the fears and trials ToBy faces. While not an entirely new concept, ToBy deploys these themes with enough lyrical introspection and engaging flow to give his work its own voice. That personal touch makes the record well worth the listen. (www.soundcloud.com/tobyseason)

Author rating: 7/10

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