GRAMMY BNA Q&A: TOBE NWIGWE

Best New Artist nominee Tobe Nwigwe, who’s currently in the cast of the multi-ethnic Netflix series Mo, launched his musical career via social media. Six years ago, the Houston native started posting an original rap and video every Sunday on YouTube in collaboration with The Originals: his wife, Martica Ivory Rogers, who’s known as Fat, though she’s anything but, and producer/rapper Nell. The three hooked up while working with Nwigwe’s nonprofit, TeamGINI. He’s defiantly indie—distribbed by United Masters—and says he found out he’d snagged the BNA nom by reading about it online.

Check out a flipbook of interviews with Best New Artist nominees from our Grammy Preview: Part 3.


What does it mean to you to be nominated for Best New Artist?
It means a lot. It feels phenomenal. The fact that we’re independent, and I started this with absolutely nothing, no foreknowledge of the industry, literally fixing a plane while flying it.

Do you feel like you’re part of a
“scene” in Houston?
I don’t spend too much time thinking about what scene I’m in. I do life music. For those who need help maneuvering through life, and for those who are already living life, I help you live it more abundantly.

Early on you began posting a song and video every Sunday. What inspired you to do that?
It started with the #SoGoneChallenge. Fat told me I should do it, and I did. From the response to that, we just picked a day, and it turned into the #getTWISTEDsundays series. Then I could see my music was on a different trajectory and was affecting people a little bit differently. I thought about all the things that I would’ve wanted to know when I was young to give me guidance; that’s what inspired me to do it.

What music first influenced and excited you when you were a kid?
Lauryn Hill, Andre 3000, Fela Kuti, Michael Jackson, Beyoncé and all the Houston legends.

Tell us a bit about TeamGINI.
TeamGINI is short for “Gini Bu Nkpa Gi?,” the [Nigerian] Igbo translation for “What’s Your Purpose?” The entire “why” behind TeamGINI is to make purpose popular. It started with big experiences in the schools and pilot programs that one day we’ll get back to, but more recently, it’s been about using music and my platform to make purpose popular.

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