Rise & Grind is a new editorial series, meant to introduce and dissect new, buzzing, or underground artists.

Somewhere between the lines of melodic rap and hard-hitting R&B lies the Raleigh, North Carolina-based artist Toosii. Fresh off the heels of unleashing his latest collection of songs, Thank You For Believing, featuring the likes of Mulatto, DaBaby and Key Glock, Toosii further cements himself as one of the game’s most promising rising stars. Propelled into the limelight by his knack for complimenting sincere lyricism with raw emotion, he reached a more widespread commercial audience on the strength of his February 2020 effort Platinum Heart. Tastefully blending honest tales of street life and his “hood romantic” side, the project went on to hit the summit of the Billboard’s Heatseekers Albums chart. 

The ambitious Syracuse-native followed up its success with September’s Poetic Pain. The effort debuted within the Top 20 region on the Billboard 200 and has garnered over 213 million global streams since its release. Album-standout “Love Cycle” with Summer Walker stands as his biggest hit thus far, eventually earning the 21-year-old his first Gold plaque. 

toosii and dababy

Toosii and DaBaby on the "Shop" music video set - BTS photo provided by the artist. Photo credit: Nicholas Green

Named in numerous publications as a 2021 Artist to Watch, Toosii has received co-signs from fellow lyricists like his South Coast Music Group labelmate DaBaby, who called Toosii “the hottest new emerging artist.” Toosii is just getting started with his impending domination and he recently connected with HNHH for the latest edition of Rise & Grind to reflect on his first live show experience, his desire to collaborate with Billie Eilish, working with Mulatto and Summer Walker, and much more. 

Stay tuned for a new instalment of Rise & Grind next Monday.

toosii 2021

Image provided by the artist. Photo credit: Marc Coates

Stomping Grounds:

So I grew up in Syracuse, New York, a small city in New York. You know growing up, you grow up fast, I lost a lot of friends, had a lot of friends go to prison, all of that. It motivated me to do something better, that’s what I would say.

Zodiac Sign:

The only zodiac sign I really know about is Leos and Capricorns because I’m a Capricorn. [Capricorns are ambitious and hard-working].

Sh*t, I’m here ain’t I? It’s a process I been working through it all.

Top 5 DOA:

Top five rapper's dead or alive? You know it's so crazy man I don’t really listen to rap music.

I’m going to be honest if I like a rapper it’s because of him as a person, like Nipsey. I got to go with Jay-Z, Nas for sure, Lil Wayne, Jadakiss.

Oh my god, I listen to pop music, country music, R&B. 

Studio Habits & Essentials:

I gotta have tea, Sour Patch candy, Minute Maid, something to drink. I gotta have all of these. 

"Love Cycle":

I was on tour with Summer and ‘Love Cycle’ was already out and the song was performing well. It came to the point we needed someone for the feature, so I was like who better than Summer. We put Summer on it and it really did it for me. I remember the night it came out, we were in L.A. at a Chick-fil-a. The song was going crazy on the internet I’m talking my name trending, 10,000 tweets about me, it was one of those nights. 

First Bars:

The first bars I ever had, not wrote, came from my sister... no, my brother. My brother had written a rap for my sister and I stole it from my sister. I rapped it and put it on Facebook and it was going crazy. My sister used to be on Facebook rapping. We come from a rapping family.  

First Show:

I remember that like it was yesterday. I had a show where I live in Raleigh, NC with A Boogie. I got booed off stage before I even got to perform. Oh no, nobody intimidates me, I was laughing after. You gotta know how to play it. They were really just ready for A Boogie, it was so many opening acts, it was one of those shows. I got the opening act and they ready for the artist. I’m the act right before A Boogie. I get out on stage before I even get to perform, I’ve just come out and they’re like “BOOGIE, BOOGIE, BOOGIE” and I’m just standing there, got the mic in my hand. I’m like “Damn yall ain’t even give me a chance to start.” I said “Yall ain’t even give me a chance to suck yet” and the whole crowd bust out laughing and I had their attention from there. You just have to know how to play every situation. Life is about options. You have the option to react to things a certain way. You just gotta play it right.

Clocking Out:

I listen to Billie Eilish, I got a Billie Eilish t-shirt. I like Lewis Capaldi, Tim McGraw, John Legend, Jason Mraz, Train, Ed Sheeran, Adele. That’s the type of stuff I listen to.

I’m gonna keep it one hundred I could name more pop artists than I can rap artists.  

Up Next:

Honestly, to continue to put out music and continue to give fans what they want. That’s all I know how to do, is give the fans what they want. Sooner or later it’s about to be time to tour.

toosii photo 2021

Image provided by the artist. Photo credit: Marc Cortes

HNHH: I see you've collaborated with Da Baby, Lil Durk, Summer Walker, Wiz Khalifa, Lil Tjay, Queen Naija, Amine and more. You clearly worked with a wide range of artists, definitely fitting to the wide range of music you listen to. Which of these collaborations or reach-out requests was most exciting for you personally?  

Toosii: You know what’s crazy, out of all those songs you just mentioned, only one of them is my song. All of those songs that I was on, they reached out to me. Like, 'we wanna put Toosi on this' and I was like, 'If I fuck with you let’s get it.' One of my favorites probably was, and not even about being fans of the artists, just the songs; Queen Naija, "One Time," Lil Tjay, "Love Hurts."

LISTEN: Lil Tjay - Love Hurts feat. Toosii 

Is there anyone you would like the opportunity to work with in the future? 

Billie Eilish. 

Toosi x Billie Eilish, that would be something serious. 

T x Billie Eilish would have people crying, grabbing tissues.

For sure. So you released two projects last year, Platinum Heart, the standard and deluxe at the top of the year; and Poetic Pain in September. Plus you’re dropping another tape this Friday [Thank You For Believing]. That's obviously a lot of music, were you feeling particularly inspired in quarantine? What was your creative process like for these projects? How did you find the drive to just turn it out? 

Let's make music, that’s all I knew. I got work to do. I love making music, like I recorded two projects in two sessions. I’m just trying to just make music that’s all I know.

I noticed you tweeted the other day that your favorite track from Thank You for Believing was "5'5" with Mulatto. I got a chance to listen to it and it’s definitely one of my favorites too from the project. So what's your connection to the track and why would you describe it as your favorite. Can you talk a little bit about what it was like working with Mulatto?

The song was already established before it got sent to me. It’s my favorite because it’s just a vibe, that’s gonna be one of them summer bangers. It’s the perfect time, we’re about to go into summer, I feel like that’s the one right there. We gonna shoot a video, we gonna go crazy. I didn’t even know the song was gonna get sent to her, my team just sent it to her. She got on it and I was like, 'sh*t’s fire.'

So at one point you used to go by ‘Toosi 2x,’ right? What inspired the small name switch?

I always went by Toosi and I’m just two times. Two times is just a way of living, I got it tattooed on my neck. Two times is just a way of living and what it stands for. You know when they say when you sleeping somebody’s working two times harder than you. I’m that person that’s always working two times harder than the next person. It’s a way of living honestly.

What do you want to be known for in the game? If you had full control over the narrative regarding you and your artistry when it’s being discussed decades from now, what would you want your musical legacy to be? 

I have people from the music industry that I look up to, as far as just being a person. I want the world to look at me how they looked at Nipsey, and it’s a process. I’m growing and I’m still very young but I’m very intelligent. So I want the world to look at me how they look at Nipsey, for real.

Stream Toosii's new album here.


LISTEN: Toosii - Shop feat. DaBaby