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Houston-born lyricist Tobe Nwigwe receives Grammy nomination for Best New Artist

Jalyn Smoot

Liliane Lathan/Getty Images

HOUSTON- From H-Town to the Grammys, Tobe Nwigwe continues his rise to superstardom.

Amongst the 2022 Grammy nominations announced by the academy, Houston-born lyricist Tobe Nwigwe was listed as a nominee for Best New Artist.

Best New Artist nominee?" Nwigwe said in shock in an Instagram post. "I don't even care if I win the actual award. I just found out from Rolling Stone."
Can you imagine that type of thing?" Nwigwe asked his wife over FaceTime. "I can't believe I've been nominated for Best New Artist."

Nwigwe is joined by Anitta, Omar Apollo, DOMi & JD Beck, Samara Joy, Latto, Måneskin, Muni Long, Molly Tuttle, and Wet Leg as nominees for the award. Given the genre diversity amongst the group, it is anyone's guess who will win the award, but Nwigwe should be considered a favorite.

Nwigwe is arguably the most popular nominee for the award and has blossomed into a household name over the last decade.

Known for its grimy, creative flows, Nwigwe's discography boasts features from music stars Pharell Williams, CeeLo Green, EARTHGANG, Big K.R.I.T, and Black Thought, amongst others.

Tobe Nwigwe Instagram screenshot

His elaborate, visually dazzling music videos have also helped Nwigwe grow his following. His music videos for his songs BEEN BROKE and LORD FORGIVE ME, which are featured on his latest album moMINTS, have each surpassed a million views.

This is not atypical for Nwigwe, as his videos often go viral due to the intricate choreography and design.

What's so surreal about Nwigwe's Grammy nomination is that he almost never pursued music. A former football player at the University of North Texas, Nwigwe once considered a career in the NFL. His football career was derailed by a torn ligament in his foot, though, causing him to leave the sport for good.

In need of new path, Nwigwe began to create music and eventually signed with 50-year-old Christian motivational speaker Eric Thomas’s start-up label, ETA Records in 2014.

He [Thomas] was a major factor in me doing music with integrity and character and being able to succeed at a certain level,“ Nwigwe said in an interview with Ebony magazine. “Cause I ain’t never seen an example like that.”

Since 2017, ETA has dropped six of Nwigwe's projects, including Tobe From the Swat, The Originals. (2018), More Originals (2018), Three Originals (2019), Fouriginals (2019), and last year’s The Pandemic Project and Cincoriginals.

Although his football career is a thing of the past, Nwigwe says the lessons he learned on the gridiron at UNT still help him today.

Football gave me all the attributes that I use to this day in music -- discipline, perseverance, consistency, just the ability to do things that you don't feel like doing," he said in a 2020 interview with the North Texan.
I didn't even know we [UNT] had the No. 1 music program while I was there," he says. "I was too busy playing football. But if I would've known, I probably would've definitely gotten involved in music while I was there."
Tobe Nwigwe could join long lineage of Houston award winnersTobe Nwigwe Instagram screenshot

Although he was never taught the intricacies of songwriting in college, Nwigwe has to be proud of how far he has come as an artist.

With over 2 million social media followers, over a million monthly listeners on Spotify, an NPR Tiny Desk concert, and now a Grammy nomination to his name, Nwigwe has quickly ascended to one of the biggest names in hip-hop.

If he wins Best New Artist, Nwigwe will be the 21st Houston-born artist to win a Grammy award. Overall, Houston natives boast 68 Grammy wins over the last 61 years.

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