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The B-Sides: Expressive Larry wows with writing, rhyming, rapping

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Tobias Larry got a glimpse, into a new world full of expression and flow

As a high school kid in Florida exposed to poetry and Edgar Allan Poe.

Though dark and shocking at points in its prose,

Larry’s creativity was awakened, a willingness to compose.

Words,

Lyrics,

They emerged to the surface.

Larry started spitting versions of “The Raven,”

Tweaking Nevermore to fit his craving.

Now, more developed, further along in his exploration,

Larry has been wowing Purdue teammates with amazing

Skills to freestyle and vibe to beats

Sparking conversation with any topic he meets.

"He’s good and his metaphors are so good. He’s right off the top," said T.J. McCollum, a graduate transfer who's also a linebacker. "You can give him a topic and he’ll rap right off it. It’s amazing how he does it.

"He does it all the time in the locker room. Like legit. Freestyle, off the head."

Larry, a freshman from Lakeland, Fla., has found a creative release in writing poetry but also rhyming and rapping. The poetry, mostly, is off-limits — it’s just for him and for his feelings. The rhyming, though? Everybody gets to feel that.

And it didn’t take long for Larry’s teammates to realize there was talent there.

Larry describes his style as “kind of hip hop.”

“But, at the end of the day, I believe it’s poetry because I like rhyming and basically just making something that flows, anything that flows,” Larry said. “When I was in high school, when we really started writing poetry and studying poetry, I was like, ‘OK.’ So I made a couple rhymes, a couple poems, and then I got a niche for it, kind of. I’ve been rapping ever since. Every time my friends are around, they’ll be like, ‘Tobias, spit something.’ They just throw anything at me.

“Out of nowhere, something will just pop up. It just comes fast. I don’t even think of it. I just try to rhyme with it right off the top.”

Larry has only been on campus since the summer but already he’s penned a Purdue-specific rap, called, simply, “Boiler Up, Hammer Down,” that he made as a voiceover to the Migos’ song “Bad and Boujee.”

A sample:

Larry also teamed with fellow rookie linebacker Derrick Barnes: Larry rapped, and Barnes sang a chorus, over an instrumental track.

Teammates liked it.

“They said it had a catchy chorus type of flow. We’re like, ‘Wow, should we make it a song?’ That’s what we’re thinking,” Larry said.

But, for now, Larry is keeping his skills close. He’s not a huge social media guy, he said, and mostly he likes being able to share the rhymes with his friends.

At times, though, he can be drawn to a bigger stage.

He found himself drawn into a rap battle once, while he was at a gathering that he didn’t want to call a “party,” necessarily, but was more of a spot where everybody was chilling, he said. There was a guy there from Kentucky, a rapper who called himself Atlas. When folks found out there were two rappers there, they asked them to go head-to-head.

“His little posse was like, ‘Oh, he’s going to get you. He’s a real rapper.’ Then I started rapping against him, and I came out with the win,” Larry said. “Then he’s like, ‘Man, you can really make something happen.’ ”

So it’s not a surprise now for Larry to get a video from Atlas, especially when Atlas is down in Florida in studios, and he’ll remind Larry, “This could be you, too.”

Maybe when Larry heads back home again, he'll seek out something more official, find a studio, lay down a track.

For now, though, football is Larry’s focus.

He’s actually playing as a rookie — one of three first-year linebackers to do so — and he’s eager to make a mark on the field first. He’s playing mostly special teams in his first season, but he’s played on defense some, too, trying to flash potential at an outside linebacker spot.

But there’s no doubt he’ll keep spending spare time impressing teammates with his non-football skills.

And, maybe, even himself.

“If it’s really good, I’ll be like, ‘Wow, did I just say that? I should write that down,' ” Larry said with a laugh. “I just shock myself, yeah. I’m like, ‘Wow, OK.’ ”

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