Best Rapper: Tobe Nwigwe
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There’s little more gratifying for Houston music followers than watching one of this city’s own blow up on a national level. Houston's rap community has been known to produce some dazzling displays of light and no one’s been more explosive of late than Tobe Nwigwe. Tobe From The Swat (Southwest Alief Texas, for the uninitiated) completed a one-of-a-kind 2018 with sold-out shows in Los Angeles, Atlanta, Washington, D.C. and New York City in November. Some of those audience members were informed rap enthusiasts, ahead of the curve listeners who discovered the former college footballer turned indie rapper from his popular YouTube and Instagram accounts. They knew songs like “I’m Dope” and “I Choose You” from Nwigwe’s The Originals collections, songs with lyrics that exude uplifting messages and Houston pride. That pride isn’t just a gimmick. When Nwigwe began planning his tour, he rewarded the local faithfuls by starting the tour here. Houston fans packed White Oak Music Hall for his first-ever solo concert last August.
Some at those sold-out shows weren’t that familiar with the artist. Many were simply curious music adventurers who followed endorsements Nwigwe’s drawn from music great Erykah Badu and none other than Dave Chappelle, who’s as professorial about hip hop as one can get. If those two consider Nwigwe the best and most exciting rapper currently hailing from Houston, who are we to disagree?