Opening Tochi Bedford’s debut project Eternal Mob is Bros, a whispery, trippy rap song that somehow blends the fragile sensibilities of emo and the cutthroat awareness of traditional hip hop. Out of the eight tracks on Eternal Mob which features a handful of emerging rappers like $B, Dndsection and KD, no other song sounds like this. Bros is, without a doubt, one of the best offerings from the project.
”See the thing is, I didn’t intentionally structure it that way,” admits 21-year-old Tochi, ”I was actually trying to record quietly cause I had a roommate then that was trying to get some sleep and I ended up loving the way the song sounded.”
Tochi usually prefers recording with a mic line by line into the computer. He rarely writes anymore because he’s not so good at retaining lyrics in his head. ”It’s ironic because for someone that hates writing lyrics down, I’m not so good at freestyles. I usually just pick the first beat I see, or make one on the spot and start recording. I think I enjoy the end result more than the entire process itself though.” he says.
Although Eternal Mob dropped in 2020, Tochi has been into music for much longer. His foray into rap started in 2017 with nightly sessions at the studio along with fellow hip hop act (Abstraktt), recording when everyone was asleep. Songs like 17 and Float, self-indulgent with leanings towards trap, cultivated for him a small artistic presence on a democratized space like SoundCloud.
”Growing up I listened to a lot of EDM, from Flume to RL Grime and What So Not. Then I got put on to Drake during the days when Vine was really popping,” Tochi says. From a family of five and originally from Delta, Tochi is the oldest child and resides in Lagos. His first brush with music was in 2015 making beats as a producer, now his songs are sprinkled with the unmissable ”Yo Tochi, Keep Mobbing” producer tag which has mutated into an identifier hailed by his burgeoning fan base.
”I had a lot of free time back then and I was into game design. I picked up beat making because I was trying to learn to make sounds for my games, eventually it developed into a whole other craft. During the entire time I was making beats I used to make silly recordings now and again, but I started recording seriously after I met Abstraktt.” Tochi recalls.
He would later create the 44db collective after meeting producers who he was trying to enlist for an event he wanted to have back then in 2018. Producers are often left out from the credit roll call, nearly occupying the fringes of the music industry while artistes take center stage and all the glory.
With producers Trill Xoe, KD, Malik Bawa, Saint Austiin, Johnson IP, Dëra, Tobi Fads, Veen, Haris, Lex Jnr, and Woodpile under the 44db collective, coming from audio engineering backgrounds or genres slanting towards EDM and trap, the community allows for the fostering of ideas and essentially growing together.
The 44db collective is also intersecting with Nigeria’s emerging trap scene, inverted as Afro-trap and no longer contained on SoundCloud. ”Honestly, I think the rap scene in Nigeria is at the healthiest it’s been at in a while at least, amongst the people I’ve worked with so far,” Tochi reveals, ”Collaboration is peak right now, and I think everyone sort of gets that. I don’t know about recognition though, cause I feel like the music is reaching the people it’s meant to reach. If it’s for you, it’s for you.”
Last month Tochi released For Real and Bands, his first singles of the year, the former having a cover art resembling the heat map of a butterfly. ‘‘I can’t trust nobody till they prove themselves for real real,” he raps in the chorus, mirroring the age-old paranoia exhibited by the broader swathe of hip hop acts.
At the moment, Tochi is working on his next project titled After Eternity, which will provisionally have 9 songs. He’s been working on the project for a year with new sounds and glad to have collaborated with friends. ”It’s in its final stages right now and I’m even thinking about doing visuals seriously for the first time. We’ll just have to wait and see.”
When Bernard Dayo isn’t writing about pop culture, he’s watching horror movies and reading comics and trying to pretend his addiction to Netflix isn’t a serious condition.