Toby B

Toby Okello also known as Toby B is a Kenyan rapper who represents Mombasa. He started doing music way back in 2005, while he was still in the university. He got into the rap engaging himself in the freestyles and curtain raising for other artists as a way of learning and perfecting his craft.

Until 2018, that was when he first hit the studio and started music professionally, and he released his first ever solo track Press Release, which was done by the famous hip-hop producer, Babz on the track who has also worked with the likes of Octopizzo and Smallz Lethal. Press Release video was executed by Johnson Kyalo.

Since then he has been releasing tracks back to back, his latest single being Rais. On this track he refers himself as the president of hip-hop and evidently from the way he comes through in this track is more than enough prove. An artist/Banker/scholar is putting is raising the Kenyan Hip Hop flag internationally after receiving many shout outs from Indonesia, Germany, America et al. He says these highly hyped rappers should take notes and learn to deliver on tracks, reduce nudity and stay relevant. He also has a number of tracks doing well om charts locally and internationally i.e Press Release that has been doing rounds.

Please tell us a bit about yourself (full name, age, family background, academic background and career- you can share all the places you have worked before now)

My name is Toby Okello also known as Toby B. I am 34 years old. I come from a family of 6 and I am the last born. I hold B.A in Economics & M.A in Project Planning & Management both from the University of Nairobi. Career wise I have worked in two financial institutions and two other organizations one being a private enterprise and the other local C.B.O (Community Based Org).

I was born in Busia but my family is originally from Siaya. Both of my parents are deceased something that weakens my knees all day all time. I did my primary school in Busia at a school called lwanya primary (1999) and joined Kwale high school in south coast. Completed my O levels in 2003 and joined UoN in 2005 for my undergrad. Got my first job in 2013 as a banker in Nairobi went back for my Masters in 2016 and graduated in 2018.

What first got you into music?

The passion, the drive to change the globe. Only way my voice could be heard is through music. I would disseminate knowledge through music. Nas says, “Read more learn more change the globe”.

Why did you settle on the name Toby B as your artistic name, what is the inspiration name behind it?

Toby is my real name…B is for Becker; put artistically to mean I bake music.

It motivates me and reminds me of my role to cook more good stuffs to feed and satisfy the masses.

Who inspired you to make music?

I grew up listening to Hip Hop and developed interest in what hip-hop stands for. Being inspired by great MCs like KRS One, Immortal Technique, Wu tang clan, Run DMC, Kalamashaka, Mashifta among others. From the above and their lyrics, that stood for literacy as a weapon to fight poverty, human rights advocacy, ethics and entertainment. In other words, their music is what we call edutainment.

How would you describe the music that you typically create?

It is afro hip-hop. It touches real time on what happens in our society.

What is your creative process like?

I get inspired to write by seeing things that happen besides me. Things we read/see on mainstream etc. Things we hear from relatives’ friends & neighbors.

Who would you most like to collaborate with?

I would really love to work with Kitu sewer,Rabbit, Rostam, M.I & Immortal Technique.

If you could go open a show for any artist who would it be?

Khaligraph Jones. He has energy in performances and is a symbol of success in our local hip-hop scene.

What is one message you would give to your fans?

I love them & I will always give them lyrics worth burning their mbs to listen to and watch.

What would you be doing right now, if it wasn’t for your music career?

I’m a banker already besides my music career and I’m game.

Where have you performed? What are your favorite and least favorite venues? Do you have any upcoming shows?

I have performed in quite a number of shows but quite memorable is a south Sudanese fashion show dubbed Miss Malaika East Africa Edition. I don’t have favorite or not favorite venues as long as I connect with my fans.

Currently I’m into recording at least for now I get done with a number of projects before hitting shows.

How do you feel the Internet has impacted the music business?

It is like industrial revolution. Internet has brought masses closer to art. Internet has made a number of things affordable like pushing projects. By a click you get to evaluate your projects through fans. Internet has also made it possible to break away from the cartels in music. Right now many artists are breaking through by themselves unlike back then when you would beg for your music to be played on radio or television or even put on print.

What is your favorite song to perform?

My favorite song is Press Release. It is the song that made people to notice my ability. It reminds me of what is possible.

Toby Okello aka Toby B

Which famous musicians do you admire?

I wouldn’t say I admire but look up to. Like Kitu Sewer is really on a different level. I also look at Khaligraph and see possibilities. Nikka took Kenyan hip-hop to BET.

What is the most trouble you’ve ever gotten into?

I always keep away from trouble. It can’t find me.

What is the best advice you’ve been given?

Be yourself.

If you could change anything about the industry, what would it be?

I wouldn’t change anything because we are still growing. Like a baby the industry needs to fall many times before it picks up. But I would urge industry stakeholders to push Kenyan music.

What’s next for you?

I keep future plans to myself. Let it come as a surprise!

Your Parting shot?

Be you even if everybody is trying to fit in,
Work and pray, lastly play Kenyan music and learn to subscribe.

Your official social media/Music platforms?

Instagram: Tony Becker
Facebook: Toby Becker