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TOBE NWIGWE SAYS HE FELL IN LOVE W/ HIP-HOP VIA WARREN G’S “REGULATE”

August 2, 2023

Read the full interview on TheSource.com!

If you had the chance to watch the new Steph Curry documentary on Apple TV, Underrated, all the way through, then you heard Tobe Nwigwe’s voice come in at the exact perfect time — right before the credits. The Nigerian recording artist recorded the song “Lil Fish, Big Pond” specifically for Steph, one of the greatest basketball players of our generation.

But, of course, greatness takes time. Underrated does an incredible job of showcasing the journey before Steph became the Steph Curry he is today: a two-time Most Valuable Player and a four-time NBA champion with the Golden State Warriors.

And while many may see Tobe Nwigwe as the superstar he is today — making his mark in music and film — many don’t see the grind it took to get him there. For Tobe, “Lil Fish, Big Pond” was a real life testament to his own rise to success, pushing forward a positive message that you can truly do anything you set your mind to in this world — as long as you work hard, stay passionate, and never lose sight of yourself.

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The Source spoke with Tobe Nwigwe via Zoom, who had just returned from baecation in Turks and Caicos with his wife, Fats. Read below as we discuss being featured in the Steph Curry documentary when he fell in love with Hip-Hop, his favorite artists, his roots in Houston, acting in Transformers, goals, and more!

Definitely want to touch on “Lil Fish, Big Pond.” What does it mean to have your song placed in the Steph Curry Underrated documentary?

Oh it’s phenomenal. Steph’s story, his journey is an immaculate display of what’s possible, as it relates to achieving greatness. For anybody in the world, no matter if you play basketball or not. The path that he took, and the work ethic, discipline, consistency and stuff that he applied to his sport is amazing to see. It’s an honor to be a part of the story, even if it’s a song to highlight what he did.

How did you get involved in the project? 

They hit me up. “Hey, Steph Curry would like to —” I said aw, tell him yes.

So he chose you specifically?

Oh come on, chose me… Yes he did, like a prom date. [laughs]

What was the creative process behind the actual making of the song?

Once they told me what they were wanting me to do, I made the song with Steph’s story in mind. I dug a little deeper, did a little research. Watched the trailer and tried to bring that to life as creatively as I possibly could.

How much did this relate to your own life?

A lot of it. The synergy was very strong, but it was like that in two different ways. It don’t matter if your daddy is Dell Curry and has paved the way, and you feel like the red carpet should be laid out in certain areas. Or your daddy is my daddy, who don’t know nothing about the entertainment industry at all. You gon’ have to earn everything it is that’s yours. Ain’t nobody gon’ give you nothing, especially as it pertains to greatness. You gon’ have to go out and get it, and that’s exactly what Steph did. And that’s what I’m on the path to doing, 100%.

What did it mean to hear your song at the end?

It’s beautiful, I’m not gon’ lie to you. It’s amazing to be a part of greatness, but it’s even better when the person who‘s great is also a great human being. We don’t live in an age where everybody’s great human beings. People just be great at what it is that they do, they don’t necessarily be the best people. But Steph Curry is a phenomenal human being.

Have you guys met in person?

Steph Curry is my friend. That’s my friend. Before we started this project, we was cool. Now? [laughs] That’s my friend.

How did y’all tap in initially?

Just from the project. It was nothing serious, we didn’t really know each other like that. It was like “oh man, I appreciate you doing the project.” But once we locked in and did it, then when we got together to put the visual together, aw okay. Yup, we’re friends.

I know you’re a football player by nature. Do you like basketball as well?

Yeah, I do. I love basketball and football, but I’m putting my kids in soccer. Once I seen what they’re offering Mbappé, I’m like yeah, okay. I’ma need to put all my kids in soccer. I don’t know if you saw, [Kylian] Mbappé got off for $1.1 billion to play soccer for a year. I didn’t know that there was that kind of money in soccer. That’s insane.

Hip-Hop celebrates 50 years this year, what does Hip-Hop mean to you?

Everything. It helped shape how I see the world in totality, outside of my Nigerian roots. Hip-Hop is what gave me the clearest viewpoint and vantage point of how to operate in the world — through art and culture. Dang, it’s my first time saying that. It’s crazy.

Do you remember the moment you fell in love with Hip-Hop?

Warren G, “Regulators.” 100%. “You gotta be handy with the steel, if you know what I mean

Earn your keep!” [raps Warren G]

Top five all time?

[gasps] Alright, let’s see. Biggie. Lauryn Hill. Andre 3000. Nas and Jay Z. Hold on, you did mean rappers right?

It didn’t have to be ,but those are solid. 

Well hold on now… Let’s go to the next question before I get lost in the sauce.

Family is a huge part of your life, sometimes Hip-Hop may have a negative connotation. How important is it to have your children around your version of rap?

My version of Hip-Hop is going to be the foundation for my kids, but they’re not limited to that. They still need to be well-rounded and see what is in the world, because that’s the place they got to operate in. We have to give them other doses and experiences with Hip-Hop when it’s time. Right now, they listen to not just me. They listen to clean versions of other stuff, because I’m raising respectable young ladies and young gentlemen. But they gon’ know how to operate in the world, not just walk around and be like…

When it comes to your creativity, where do you draw your inspiration from? Everything from your music videos to the clothing you wear…

My life, my wife. My relationship with God, my children. The homies I grew up with. The musical influences like Biggie, Lauryn Hill, Fela Kuti, Andre 3000, CeeLo Green, Goodie Mob, Fat Pat, Lil Keke. There’s a lot of people in Houston too. Chamllionaire, Paul Wall, Slim Thug, Z-Ro, all these people in Houston I grew up listening to. People wouldn’t necessarily know all the Houston local artists, but that type of stuff really shaped the way that I approach music.

How did you manage to curate your own Houston sound? That’s not necessarily the traditional Houston flow.

Just gleaning from some of the artists that I named, then putting my own original story and flow towards my craft and what influenced me. I love the way Z-Ro sings on some tracks. I love the way that CeeLo approaches everything from a completely unorthodox space. I love the natural Houston flow that Lil Keke has. I’ll grab a little bit of this and that from everybody, pause, and put it together. Put my own spin on it.

Definitely want to touch on The Transformers. First of all, how did you learn how to act?

I’ll be honest with you, I just don’t have any fear like that. Over the course of my life, I’ve literally eliminated fear. I don’t move in fear. Playing football in front of thousands of people for so long and not wanting to get embarrassed, growing up as an athlete really helped me be able to perform in front of people and not feel no type of way. Acting is way different from lining up as a linebacker and having to tackle people in front of thousands of people, and I get ran over and I get physically embarrassed. Saying words, using the gift of gab and charisma is a little less challenging than having to be a linebacker in front of thousands of people.

How’d it feel you feel to be handpicked for that movie?

Absolutely insane. All the stories as it pertains to how certain things have happened, like getting a role in a blockbuster film like Transformers is insane. Because the director asked Paramount to reach out to me directly. I had never met him, we weren’t cool before that. That was absolutely insane.

Being nominated for Grammy, did that spark your acting bug even more on set?

Hell nah. [laughs] Just hearing you say “being nominated for Grammy” sounds insane. It sounds insane, because I’m independent. I’ve been doing this the way in which I feel like I do the entirety of the time that I’ve been doing it, I couldn’t even fully understand or believe that they really nominated me for a Grammy. Yeah, you gotta submit all your stuff. But even when I submitted my stuff, I’m like aha. I don’t think it’s really gon’ happen, they got a lot of people to choose from.

How’d it feel when I made it coming from the SWAT?

it felt incredible. It felt incredible because it’s never happened. It’s really like the “Lil Fish, Big Pond” stuff. I really feel like me being nominated for a Grammy, out of the SWAT, shows people that you can literally come from anywhere and make something happen. It’s never been done for nobody that’s from here? Alright cool. Boom, we here.

Any goals for yourself now?

Raise my children to be world changers like they’re supposed to be, and love my wife until the day we die. Hopefully, we could go out like The Notebook.

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