Chris Tobias, or Tobias as he is known to his fans, followers, and friends, is not typically the man you would like to run into in a dark alley at night. He looks older. Scary. Intimidating. With his sleeve of tattoos and his resting bitch face, seeing him approach you in the dark may make you turn and run. At least that was my first impression of him. When we connected on Twitter over a year ago, to me he looked like someone I would want nothing to do with, until I got to know him. I don't need to get to know him over a few years in order to see who he really was under his tats and stern face. He was not in any way, shape, or form an acquired taste. I needed one conversation. One conversation and everything I assumed he was, washed away and in its place, I saw his brown hair, brown eyes, and I heard his story. When we very first spoke, I was shocked to find out he was 23 years old. I assumed he was older. The way he spoke was gentle, peaceful, and informative. We had so much in common and we laughed a lot. In one word he was great. I walked away from that conversation with a new friend and I was the lucky one.
If you flip on a radio station and you hear Tobias blaring out lyrics backed up by beats, you may think the same way of him as I once did. But if you sit back and listen to the words he is saying, you will not only realize what an amazing song writer he is, but you will also hear his pain. There is pain in his lyrics covered by bass, drums, and backup singers. As artists we all show our hurt feelings in different ways. Just because he is rapping his lyrics and not belting them out, that does not mean his feelings are any less real than any other artists. I write my pain in plain text so its is easily uncovered. Painters paint with colors and brush strokes to show their feelings. Singers sing their words and when they are not ready to relieve pain, hurt or trauma they may have experienced, they don't write or sing the blues. They tend to hide their feelings in words covered by codes only they know the key to.
One afternoon while Tobias and I were chatting on the phone, he opened up to me a bit. He spoke of a tough time in his life when everything came crashing down on him all at once. Just 20 years old, away at school and away from his family, he has experienced things in his young life that a lot of adults I know have never been though. He lost a child and in the same moment he lost the girl he thought he was going to spend the rest of his life with. As he downward spiraled with alcohol to cover his pain and hide his feelings. As a performer named Chris T, he met a girl from school and attached himself to her in an unhealthy way. Being so young he with so much loss he didn't know how to handle what life was throwing at him but he knew he didn't want to be alone. That girl was the inspiration for a song that lead not only me to his music but so many others. I will leave it up to you to figure out which one it is. Even after meeting someone he still found himself alone in the dark trying to make sense of his life now broken and shattered.
The dark times can be so dark that we forget who we are. It is so dark we have no idea how to get out of it. We don't know if we'll ever see light again. I too have been in the dark place and I know it very well. In this dark place is where our life seed is planted. That seed grows a little each day and we slowly evolve. New ideas come to surface. Projects are created. People are moved out of our lives and a shift happens. When the growth is finished, we write. We paint. We play our instruments and it is the most beautiful thing we have ever created and we can’t wait to share it with the world. Tobias rose from his own ashes with not only with a new perspective, new songs, but a new image. He changed his name and began to move forward. That darkness changes us and teaches us what we need to learn. We don’t simply feel our feelings, we live them. We breathe them. Experience them. The words Tobias wrote after his darkness left him, turned into songs and music. His pain and rise from the darkness can be felt not only in his beats but mostly in the words themselves. If you listen closely, you may be able to hear his story.
Just as we can’t judge a book by its cover, we can't judge a person by his or her cover either. We have no idea what lies beneath anyones surface. Under the surface of a sleeve of tats and piercings, lays a man with pain and a purpose. A man who loves what he does, embraces his talents and has used what he found in the darkness to get his message out and to help heal himself. While we are dancing and singing along to him either while performing on stage, or on the radio, he is healing.
With his huge heart, manners, and humble beginnings, Tobias is exactly who I would want to see in a dark alley at night. Never judge a book by it’s cover or a man by his tattoos. Do yourself a favor and be sure to check out Tobias and his sound: