Emerging as one of 2019’s most promising and versatile newcomers in hip-hop, Nigerian-born and Brooklyn raised rapper, Thutmose, turned his tale of immigration to the United States into his own American dream. At only 9 years old, Thutmose fled his home country after the tragic Lagos Armoury Explosion in Nigeria killed more than 1,100 people and displaced nearly 20,000 more. Upon his arrival in New York in 2002, Thutmose faced a tumultuous transition that culminated in a SWAT team raiding his family’s home and pointing a gun to his father’s head.
Through the transition, Thutmose found solace and inspiration in music. Initially releasing music on SoundCloud exclusively, the buzz around his eclectic sound drove fan discovery leading him to independent success. His freestyle over Kendrick Lamar’s “Humble” garnered over 100,000 streams and captured the attention of an influential EA Sports company who later featured the rising MC track for “Run Wild” on the soundtrack to FIFA’s 2018 World Cup.
Thutmose continued to make a name for himself in 2018 dropping his debut album, Man On Fire, while also being featured on the star-studded Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse soundtrack with his single “Memories” in December. With no signs of slowing down, Thutmose already has 3 new singles released in 2019 including “Blurry Nights” that dropped today!
This month Vydia had the opportunity to interview Thutmose and learn more about his journey to America, his immersion as an artist, and what fans can expect from him this year. Here’s what he had to say:
What motivated you to pursue a career in music?
Growing up in Nigeria, I used to see Erykah Badu and Michael Jackson on the TV and their music always inspired me. It was crazy how their message reached millions of people all over the world. They provided entertainment and showed that anyone can conquer the world.
I was always into poetry in high school and began to casually spit bars with my friends. Eventually, my love for music grew and I needed a creative outlet so I wanted to give it a shot. At first, it was just recording demos and now I’m like wow I can make an impact for another 7-year-old kid in Nigeria the same way my idols did for me.
Where did the name ‘Thutmose’ originate from?
I have a passion for movies and I noticed when Kings speak, they speak with such conviction that their people hang on every last word. I loved that and wanted to give my listeners that feeling when I rapped. Thutmose III ruled Egypt for 54 years starting when he was 2. He was a KING! I felt that since Egypt is in Africa, a lot of things clicked with that name for me. It felt powerful.
How have your Nigerian roots influenced your music?
Let’s just say you haven’t heard anything yet. Songs like ‘Memories’ from the Spiderman: Into The Spiderverse movie are scratching the surface of where my sound is going in 2019. I aspire to collaborate with the likes of Davido, WizKid, Tiwa Savage and many more Nigerian artists and have been chatting with producers like Juls and Medsoul who do a lot of work in Nigeria. I’m really excited to bring some of those sounds from Nigeria over to the states and back!
How did your immigration from Nigeria to New York impact your approach to creating music?
Nigeria and New York are two totally different worlds, but both have a lot of noise going on. Whether it’s the corruption in Nigeria where you’re always watching your back, or growing up in East New York trying to avoid the streets, I saw a lot of stuff at a young age that made me the person who I am today. Ultimately affecting the stories I tell and emotions I convey in my music.
What was the biggest challenge you faced during this transition and how were you able to overcome it?
I mean I was a 9-year-old Nigerian immigrant who was the new kid in school in East New York. I don’t think anyone would say that transition is easy at a young age.
How do you think this experience will help you navigate challenges in the music industry?
You learn you have to surround yourself with people you can trust and that you need to believe the sky’s the limit. My parents wanted us to live the American Dream but they didn’t know all the hardships that would come along with it. Everything I’ve experienced in my life has set me up for what’s coming next.
With such a diverse background, how would you describe your sound?
I write, sing, and rap. My sound is ever-evolving while being unique. On my first mixtape, I gave listeners a taste of my world. I definitely have a lot of melodic tunes on the way but simply put in two words…Big Vibes 😎
Your music initially generated buzz after you released a freestyle over Kendrick Lamar’s hit record “Humble” on SoundCloud. What made you choose this track out of all of Kenrick’s releases?
Kendrick slayed Humble. I don’t many rappers were going to hop on that beat so I had to stand up to the challenge and show the world I’m not here for games.
Who would you say he is your biggest musical influence(s)?
Erykah Badu, Michael Jackson, Drake, and Travi$.
Your SoundCloud success attracted the attention of video gaming giant, EA Sports, who featured your single “Run Wild” as an official trailer of the FIFA 2018 World Cup video game. Do you consider yourself a big EA Sports fan? If so, what’s your favorite game to play?
I love EA Sports…’Ride with Me’ was also in NBA Live so I have to say NBA Live. However, I did grow up playing soccer so to see the song involved in such a worldly campaign was a dream come true.
What was this experience like, watching your music rapidly gain commercial recognition?
I’m just getting started. My army of fans are growing and I appreciate every single one of them. It’s been amazing to meet them all on the road. Once I make an impact and can give back to all the kids in Nigeria in a powerful way, then I’ll feel like I’ve gained that commercial recognition.
You’ve also had the opportunity to work with legendary music producer, Scott Storch. What was the best piece of advice you took away from this collaboration?
Don’t let anything stop you and someone who can make hits will never stop making hits. Even when the world is against you, anything is possible.
Last year you dropped your debut project, Man on Fire, which gave listeners a brief look into your previous experiences. What can we expect for you to share about yourself in your next project?
I’ve been dropping a lot of singles, have a couple exciting collaborations on the way. I’m looking forward to tapping into my roots more where I grew up!
Today, you dropped “Blurry Nights”. What is the inspiration behind this brand new single?
My lifestyle since becoming a full-time artist has been full of wild nights and crazy stories. Blurry Nights is how I captured the feeling of all the wild twists and turns in my life.
When can we expect a music video for “Blurry Nights”?
Currently working on a few different videos so you’ll have to wait and see.
How has Vydia helped empower your career as an independent artist?
Vydia has been supportive of my career from the start so I’m grateful to their team for believing in my project.
What’s a fun fact no one knows about you?
I like my fried rice with no egg. Follow @foodforthut on IG, my manager is clowning 😂
Big things are in store for Thutmose over the next few months. Stay up-to-date with every new Thutmose release, make sure you follow him on social media. Check back next week to see who will be featured on our next Vydia Spotlight.