Where the streets meet romance, Nau’Jour Grainger, better known as Toosii, has proven to be one of the fastest rising artists we’ve seen this year. The Raleigh rapper gained widespread popularity with his 2020 album Platinum Heart, giving us a gritty sound with a sensitive touch. Toosii showed his grind by dropping another powerful project in the same year, Poetic Pain, which debuted at No. 17 on the Billboard Hot 200 chart.
His single “Love Cycle” featuring Summer Walker earned him his first Gold plaque and over 20 million views on YouTube. Since then, he’s worked with other major acts such as Dababy, Lil Durk, Wiz Khalifa,and Queen Naija among others Now, as he follows up on his successes with the release of his long-anticipated Thank You For Believing project, The Source speaks with Toosii about the new tape, his journey to fame, and more.
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
The Source: Tell us how you got involved in music and at what point did you know that you wanted to make it your career?
Toosii: When I turned 17 I dropped out of school, moved to LA, and chased my dream. And you feel me, that was just like when I hit the ground running.
How would you describe your music for someone who hasn’t heard it? Because, I’ve heard you refer to yourself as a hood romantic and Toosii Skylark and you have a really interesting sound.
It’s like a perfect mix, you know, I make music for the street dudes but at the same time I make music for the ladies. And, the Toosii Skylark thing came about because of my DJ. He used to tell me, “You like the Black Justin Bieber, you like Toosii Skylark,” so ever since he gave me the name I just took it and ran with it.
Who are some of your musical influences? People that inspired you thus far?
It’s crazy because like two years ago I was listening to a lot of Lil Baby, but when it comes to musical influences I’d say my brother and my dad. They used to make music and anything my brother and my dad did, I wanted to do. So, those are my musical influences and just my influences in general.
Now, let’s get into the mixtape! The title, Thank You For Believing, can you tell us why you chose that title?
I felt like this project was personal, you know? Personal to me and personal to my fans; like, there’s a lot of fans I got today that been with me since I first started. They been pushing me and helping me get to where I wanted to be, and I’m finally here. So, I appreciate the people who believed in me, helped me, and motivated me to get to where I’m at today because if it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be here.
Besides the personal aspect, what do you think the difference between this project will be compared to the others?
This one is just major. I never really went to a studio and recorded an album. This was the first one I ever did that with [typically recording things himself in his own home studio] because I felt like this was so personal for the fans; I couldn’t mess this up.
I’m sure it’ll do everything that you intended for it to do and more. I heard pieces of it and I like what I heard, so I have high hopes for you.
I’ma keep it 100, not even simply because it’s me, I feel like this is the best project I heard all year. I’ll say the best one I heard so far besides mine would be Rod Wave’s project, but I feel like this is one of the best projects all year.
This industry is tough and it is not for the weak. If at any moment you may have felt doubtful or discouraged, what was it that kept you going?
Just being true to myself. I never really regret what I do because I feel like there’s no such thing as Ls- I don’t believe in losses, I believe in wins and lessons. Just being able to maneuver and keeping my head high and staying true to myself; that always helped me.
If you had to give advice to any new and upcoming artists, what would you tell them?
I would tell them there’s always a yin and a yang. There wouldn’t be love if there wasn’t hate. So, you’re going to have people that don’t like what you do. You’re going to have people that tell you you can’t do something. For me, I don’t believe in B plans. I believe that plan B is to make plan A work. So for anybody out there with a plan, chase plan A.