Tomi Thomas, a true Hopeless Romantic

Love and its accompanying ailments are frequent inspirations behind some of the most popular music currently. From powerhouse acts like Wizkid and Tems who gave us classics like Essence to serenade our personal person with to our very own homegrown talents like Gyakie “taking over” with songs like Forever that celebrate love out loud. No matter what genre you listen to, be it rap, pop, Afro swing, or even the hardest of drill songs, love is a subject we can rarely get away from. Whether it’s self-love, heartbreak, the love of the hustle, or lust, you can always find humanity pining after love and its endless possibilities.

For Tomi Thomas, the Nigerian artist behind the beautifully crafted “Hopeless Romantic” EP, love expands beyond the meeting of two souls. For this seasoned vocalist, love takes the form of dedication to improving his craft. Love is waking up every day and choosing to pursue things to improve yourself, love means pursuing happiness even when the world around you is seemingly going up in flames. Echoing this sentiment in Who Knew, his first single of 2021, Tomi stresses the importance of letting love sustain you despite harsh surroundings. Having used love as a vehicle through the COVID madness of 2020, Tomi Thomas created “Hopeless Romantic” from a place of growth and self-understanding.

The EP itself is a full-on union between Afro-pop, Dancehall, and Reggae-leaning riddims that would oil even the stiffest of waists. Songs like the lead single Hopeless Romantic, dripped in calypso grooves call to your innermost rhythms asking you to let go and let joy in. Waiting grew on me. Characterized by a simplistic yet cleverly engineered production, Waiting captures a large chunk of what longing for someone feels like. Darker, more robust melodies on tracks like Hurricane featuring the legendary Buju Banton speak to Tomi Thomas’ successful exploration and hold over the Afro-Dancehall subgenre. Hurricane sees the duo perfectly deliver an old wives’ tale about a fierce, uncontrollable woman. Its accompanying visuals are complete with Marvel movie-like effects, a steamy dance routine, and our star covered in the pouring rain…and well what more could we desire?

Overall, the tape is a powerful re-introduction to the many gifts of Tomi Thomas and we just had to dive in further to fully appreciate this musician’s constant evolution. Over a shaky zoom call, iMullar had the pleasure of grilling the Afro-fusion artist over his tape inspirations, his identity as a young creative Nigerian, and his one true love: the craft.

M- A lot of your music is dancehall leaning and reggae-inspired, what pulls you to these soundscapes?

My mom played a lot of Harry Belafonte and similar artists when I was younger and growing up. In general, though, I think there is a lot of African music or music made by black people that is really taking off around the world. A lot of musicians are trying to make that kind of sound, the Afrobeats, the Afro-fusion and it’s quickly becoming the music most of the world dances to, and as a Nigerian, I am really proud of it. At the same time though, not all Nigerians make Afrobeats, there are other genres that Nigerians and West Africans make and it’s still African because of the way they do it. I think it’s great art and as long as if it is dope it’s cool and I am willing to try it.

M- Being part of the Nigerian Alte takeover must have been an exciting time. How do you think your sound has developed from when you first started till now?

I think I am still growing and I am still learning. I still learn every day when I write. I just want to evolve. Sometimes I listen to music I made 10 years ago and it still amazes me regardless of how much I’ve grown. I can look back at it and say I have grown this much. But even back then, there was still a lot of effort being put into those songs. I can listen to songs like Vibrate that I did with Remy Baggins or Patience off my first tape and still enjoy and learn from them. I write differently for different reasons. It depends on what I am going through or what I am trying to accomplish.

M- What inspired Hopeless Romantic? Is it important for you to remember to romanticize life?

I think time inspired the tape. Just getting to know me and my desires more. More time is spent thinking, learning, and accepting things the way they are then putting that growth into action. Mehn, at this point I just want to be happy. I choose to be as happy as I can be. Like a lot of stuff comes up every day and it’s either you decide whether you are going to be sad or are you going to try your best and choose love instead of hate.

M- You are currently living in Nigeria, a place where police profiling is rampant and you have these beautiful locs, how do you navigate your day-to-day life knowing that you could be profiled at any moment?

Politically, the country is crazy. It is difficult in the sense that you have to try your best to not be in “trouble”. You have to be careful and aware of your surroundings. You have to take more precautions but you still cannot be afraid to be yourself or stand up for what you believe in.

M- Your music and your lyrics feel very authentic when it comes to discussing desire, love, and success, is it important for you to channel that kind of vulnerability?

I create based on how I feel. This particular project was about love in itself. Where I was, where I had been for a couple of years, and basically the evolution of that into my next phase.

M-What kind of eras and soundscapes will we see Tomi explore next?

For the next project, I am really excited to see what comes out. I would say celestial soundscapes. What does heaven sound like to you? Like what is the wildest sound you can think of? As of right now, I don’t really know what kind of sounds I want to make but I know I want to take my listeners out of this world. I just want to keep taking them further.

Talented and unpredictable, Tomi Thomas remains an elusive figure. From his contributions to the rise of Nigeria’s alte sound as part of LOS Music to his successful exploration into the Afro-dancehall subgenre, the singer refuses to be boxed in. Tomi Thomas is truly an artist dedicated to his craft and we can’t wait to see where his next evolution takes him.

The iMullar is the definitive voice of emerging African music and the lifestyle that surrounds it, showcasing exceptional talent from all around the globe focused on promoting the most distinctive new artists and original sounds, we are the authority on who is next.