Tobe Nwigwe Credit: Fred Agho

In January 2017, Houston rapper Tobe Nwigwe uploaded a YouTube video called “#getTWISTEDsundays {Chill Bill},” the first in a series in which he freestyles while getting his hair twisted by his girlfriend, Fat (the two got married later that year, and she took his last name as her own). Tobe, a 31-year-old first-generation Nigerian American and former linebacker for the University of North Texas, had released a prolific string of singles, punched up by his raw skill, lyrical craft, and unique charm, but his magnetism is most evident in the #getTWISTEDsundays videos. This year he’s launched a new series of videos, dropping  one almost every  week under the banner “The Originals” and repackaging the audio into two self-released collections: May’s The Originals and October’s More Originals. The simple yet sophisticated clips have a few things in common: they always feature Tobe, Fat, and Tobe’s producer, LaNell Grant, and the trio almost always appear in boldly colored clothes that match the tones of their surroundings, such as their yellow outfits in March’s “Chill,” shot in Houston’s LeRoy Crump Stadium. Most of the videos feature dancing—sometimes from just Fat; other times from all three of them doing an uncomplicated, synchronized routine. Tobe often raps about Fat and LaNell, which makes his songs and videos feel like glimpses of his interior life—and he comes off as unbelievably sweet natured, even when his verses land with the force of an anvil. By frequently finding new ways to celebrate the women in his life in song, giving them agency, and showing how they play a pivotal role in his work, Tobe shows how men in music at large—and hip-hop specifically—can be better allies and make great art.   v