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Tobe Nwigwe Unpacks His Failed Football Dreams and Path to Rap Stardom in ‘Exhilarating’ Conversation With Audible’s ‘Origins’

Grammy-nominated rapper Tobe Nwigwe stopped by Variety and Audible’s Music Storytelling Panel at South by Southwest to chat with Audible’s executive producer of music storytelling, Preston Copley, about his rise through the music industry and his immersive interview on the Audible podcast “Origins.”

Nwigwe is the center of the third episode of “Origins,” which is hosted by author Phil Griffin and features conversations with industry titans, including Billie Eilish, Doja Cat, King Princess, Mickey Guyton, Koffee, Flying Lotus and Camilo.

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The intention of “Origins” is to showcase “a class of artists who deeply impact culture,” Copley explained to Variety reporter Selome Hailu, who moderated the panel. “They’re early enough in their career where they’re newly grappling with a lot of global recognition, and this is a moment for them to look back on the journey that’s brought them from where they were to where they are.”

Although Nwigwe is an Audible listener, he wasn’t entirely sure what he’d signed onto at first. “I was like, ‘Oh, that sounds really tight,’ but I didn’t think it would be an exhilarating time,” the musician said. “I thought it was going to be slightly boring.” To his surprise, Griffins’ interview skills brought out “the best conversation that I’ve had with somebody ,” Nwigwe revealed.

“We add immersive sound design to really put folks in the brain of the artist so that they feel like they’re on that journey with them,” Copley said.

The 36-year-old rapper then walked the SXSW audience through the journey he shared on the podcast. Prior to his music career he was an aspiring professional football player. Though he made it to the collegiate level of his sport, a major injury derailed his career. After his sports dream fell apart, he turned to working in the non-profit world, where he met motivational speaker Eric Thomas. It was Thomas who first encouraged him to pursue music.

Despite having zero knowledge of the music industry, Nwigwe became an artist by pulling from his past. “I did have the perspective that I gained from football. I knew how to be disciplined, consistent, persevere,” he said. He was comfortable “getting up and doing what you don’t feel like doing on a regular basis for a specific goal. I had those type of intangibles and that helped me develop musically.”

All nine episodes of “Origins” are available to listen to via Audible. Watch the full conversation above.

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