Selected by: James Keith
Photography: Joe Magowan

Name: TSB

Where He’s From: South London

Genre: R&Drill

File Next To: JAE5, iLL BLU, M1llionz, BackRoad Gee

When He Started: 2009

Sounds Like: “Unique, fresh, lively, intricate at times, simple at times.”

First Music That Inspired Him: “I’m not sure if it was a song I heard that made me want to make music; I think it was more of me hearing my brother making beats that made we want to start making my own.”

TSB’s creative future was all but a certainty, mapped out by the music that soundtracked his childhood. It’s no exaggeration to say you can hear every single one of his influences in the music he makes. Growing up, he says he explored “everything; gospel, hip-hop, rap, grime, anything on MTV Base and Channel U,” but under his father’s tutelage, he discovered the classics. “My dad played a lot of jazz growing up,” he tells TRENCH, “and funk/soul stuff like The Isley Brothers, The Gap Band, The Brothers Johnson, Dave Grusin, George Benson, MJ, Janet Jackson, Prince... I think I was spoiled. I listened to everything: Fela Kuti, afrobeats—the lot!”

The South London producer first ventured into music after watching his older brother make beats. What looked at first glance like a hobby soon secured his brother a place at university. Spurred on by a touch of youthful cockiness, he figured if his brother could do it, then why not him. Still not entirely sure of his own abilities, he teamed up with a school friend to form The Shy Boys. TSB would handle the melodies and his friend would programme the drums. Before long, he and his pal had parted ways and TobiShyBoy (which would soon be shortened simply to TSB) became a solo venture.

Two years after he started producing in ‘09, TSB got his first official producer credit with “Shut It Down”, a track he created for Lioness’ Roarness EP. Gradually, over the years, TSB’s name began to ring out more and more. Although he has over a decade of experience, he pinpoints 2019 as the year his name really started to hold weight. Two years earlier, though, TSB produced “Spirit” for J Hus’ Common Sense, an album that defined 2017 and propelled Hus’ career and completely set the tone for the years to come. Since then, his rise has been exponential.

TSB reunited with J Hus to produce four tracks on his second studio album, Big Conspiracy, and contributed beats to Dave’s Psychodrama, MoStack’s Stacko, and singles for M1llionz, NSG, Headie One, Loski, Stormzy, Tion Wayne, DC and countless others. Now a Platinum-selling beatsmith (although, he says, “the fact I’m able to live off the music I make is my biggest achievement”), this year has seen Tobi step out from the shadows and into the limelight with a single of his own in “Jagged Edge”. Having first cut his teeth as ‘the melody guy’ before transitioning into rap, it’s poetic that his debut should call back to his roots with a modern-day take on Jagged Edge’s “Walked Outta Heaven” with two of his closest creative allies, Unknown T and M1llionz.

The future, of course, is impossible to predict for anyone. Right now, TSB’s sound would best be described as ‘R&Drill’, but that’s unlikely to remain a constant. His only goal for now, he tells us, is “to showcase how good my music is in other worlds and for people to really know TSB: the musician, the producer and the artist.”

TRENCH Highlight...

Posted on May 10, 2021