It was only a few years ago that many were willing to write off an entire generation of new artists as lyrically lost in translation; yet the rise of emcees like Kendrick Lamar have made doubters slowly come to the realization that Hip Hop was never dead, we were simply looking in the wrong places for it.
It’s hard to ignore the talent that Los Angeles has provided throughout the history of the game; its also becoming hard to ignore the future that lies ahead for area emcees, as proven by up and comer Cobe Obeah. Having already opened for the likes of Mos Def, Dom Kennedy and Compton native Lamar, he’s well on his way to ringing bells throughout the industry.
With his latest, Song of Starz: Dark Night gaining the ears of new followers, the Los Angeles native is poised to finally take his turn on the big stage.
AllHipHop: You’ve been in the game for longer than most give you credit for, when exactly did you decide to transform it from a hobby to an actual craft?
Obeah: I remember being 11-12 and being able to recite Snoop word for word and walking around the house rapping to Pac videos, but I didn’t take it seriously until I hit 16.
AllHipHop: It’s been mentioned that your parents actually didn’t want you to pursue a career in music, what made you decide to blaze your own path?
Obeah: They definitely wanted me to pursue a different path however that was a choice that I had to make for myself in the end.
AllHipHop: While Dark Night is currently gaining traction, there are some who don’t know that your first project was actually 2008’s Alarm Clock Richtape.
Obeah: My first project was actually on the original Myspace.com, but it’ll never see the light of day so good luck finding it. (Laughs)
AllHipHop: You took a bit of time between your original (2010) Song of Starz project and its sequel. Were you simply waiting on the right time or was there an underlying reason?
Obeah: I had to take a step back because I lacked the resources back then and I was simply going through a rough time in my life. During that time I had to work on reinventing myself while still maintaining my artistic integrity.
AllHipHop: So can we look forward to more of these elements? You’ve managed to walk the fine line between conveying a message and telling your story, without becoming too heavy.
Obeah: I still have hints of darkness yes, but next project I do want to be a bit lighter. Everybody likes to draw comparisons to other artists, and while there are similarities like the message that’s delivered, I’m actually really seasoned outside of music. I was once called “one of the last great poets of my generation” by Abiodun Oyewole of the famed spoken word group The Last Poets. I study and then place those same ideals deep into my music.
AllHipHop: You definitely take a more lyrical approach to your music than some of your counterparts, something that’s gotten you numerous cosigns; most recently from producer The Bullits, who not only produced The Great Gatsby soundtrack with Hov, but has also worked with Jay Electronica, Mos Def, Erykah Badu, etc. Things are quickly hearing up for you, so what role you see yourself stepping into long term?
Obeah: I see myself as an actual emcee. I’m more of what Lauryn Hill brought to the game, in the way that she was able to mix real knowledge within her lyrics. I want to add what Kanye brought back when he first came out. Back then it was bigger than himself, it was about the music. I want my music to not just be an autobiography of me, but a story of the people. That’s what ‘Ye did with The College Dropout, that’s what Nas did with Illmatic.
AllHipHop: So in the grand scheme of things, where do you think that you’ll ultimately end up either in or outside of the music?
Obeah: Music is what I love to do, without it the human race would be in an eternal state of misery. However, I want to use music to catapult myself into being socially responsible, similar to the ideas that Harry Belafonte have advocated. You have to make sure that you do stuff outside of the studio. That’s something that I want to continue to do after music. Be respectable and potentially a world organizer. I grew up on Pac, I loved his music, but I also loved what he tried to be to our community. I want to continue leading my people, teaching them, and inspire my generation to do more than what is said we can do.
If there’s one thing for certain its that nothing remains the same; though as it pertains to music, Cobe Obeah just may be a name that sticks around for the long haul. Let’s watch and see. Stay woke.