(AllHipHop Features) “If it’s rap or the trap, we gonna make it regardless,” declares Tate Kobang on his cut “RE-Guard-Less” off Live Hazey. In a little over a year, the rhymer has effectively started on a path where he won’t have to revert back to street life to build his wealth. It looks as if making music is what will allow Kobang to make it big.
After years of dropping mixtapes, the buzzing East Baltimore rapper finally broke out on the national radar in April 2015 as a result of his video for “Bank Rolls.” The clip was a surprise winner considering it borrows the beat from a local 2000 hit and runs 2 minutes without a chorus.
So why did Tate’s “Bank Rolls” cause both fans and bloggers to take notice? According to the artist, his performance over Tim Trees’ Charm City classic “Bank Roll” spawned the addictive magic.
“I ain’t gonna lie. It was the flow, but it’s mostly the beat,” explains Kobang. “You don’t hear those kind of beats no more. The flow and cadence I was using was f-cking ridiculous.”
The success of the vid led to two more versions being created. An official remix with an added verse was released last September. Since that time, the visuals for “Bank Rolls Remix” has been viewed 2 million times on YouTube.
Then three months ago New York Hip Hop veterans The Lox jumped on the track. Sheek Louch, Styles P, and Jadakiss spit bars about their love for their hometown of Yonkers. D-Block’s recognition of the record was a major co-sign for the DMV delegate.
“They just reached out. They hit us up like, ‘The record is crazy.’ One of their moms had got sick, so it took a little while to get everything done, but it came around. That sh-t was crazy,” Kobang informs AllHipHop.com. “They want to come to Baltimore to shoot the video. That’s gonna be big for the city.”
While Tate was just starting elementary school when The Lox first taught Hip Hop followers in 1998 about the importance of “Money, Power & Respect," the music aficionado looks to 90’s stars as his biggest influences. Elements of his work draw straight lines back to Rap City era emcees.
Kobang credits his raw sound to the Wu-Tang Clan’s Method Man, his melodic approach to the Fugees’ Lauryn Hill, and his storytelling ability to the Lost Boyz’s Mr. Cheeks. However, Tate could just as easily tap into the sonic traits of Shirley Caesar, Garth Brooks, or Justin Timberlake.
“I listened to a lot of Method Man, a lot of Lauryn Hill, a lot of Mr. Cheeks. My uncle was pumping Nas in my head,” says Kobang. “On the R&B side, my mother was putting Carl Thomas in my head, and my grandmother with Gospel. Then moving out to Pennsylvania, I got hip to Pop music and Country sh-t. Everything is in there.”
Kobang’s appreciation for various genres makes complete sense when you look at his background. His life story comprises of learning under his rapper uncle Killa Q, singing in the church choir, and playing saxophone. In addition, he spent time studying the technical aspects of audio interpretation. He picked up piano and learned to read music as well.
“It helped with understanding keys and being on pitch,” says Kobang about the value of being an instrumentalist. “I later moved to Pennsylvania and started taking piano and music tech classes. I learned how to piece stuff together. It definitely helped my artistry a lot. Rapping is rapping, but the artistry is everything.”
Listeners checking out Tate’s 2015 album Live Hazey will notice the Maryland native provides drug game narratives (“Dope Man”), Akinyele-like sex odes (“Eat Da P-ssy”), smooth vocalizations (“Aint What I Do”), and personal recollections (“Talk About It”). Tate is capable of approaching various topics, but the most noticeable trait that runs through his tunes is the introspective tales honoring his loved ones.
“I lost my mother, then lost my father like three months later in the same year. We didn’t see it coming at all. That showed me motherf-ckers could be gone today. You don’t know,” Kobang expresses. “So while you got them, you need to make sure they know you love and cherish them, make sure they know you’re here for your family, no matter how f-cked up they act towards you or how phony they are. Cause at the end of the day they’re family. You only get one mother, one father, and one grandmother."
Tate has also managed to find new kinsfolk at his label home. Last year, he joined the roster at the growing powerhouse known as 300 Entertainment. The 23-year-old born Joshua Goods is set to assume the company’s mantle as their representative of the Mid-Atlantic region.
300 Entertainment - founded by industry heavyweights Lyor Cohen, Roger Gold, Kevin Liles, and Todd Moscowitz - has already helped Fetty Wap, Young Thug, and Migos become regulars in music publications and on radio stations. With that experience in the front office and the distribution backing of Atlantic Records, the enterprise has a global reach not typically associated with most indie imprints.
“It’s like they’re an independent with the power and muscle of a major. So they can move how they want. They have all of the connects and respect,” states Tate about the New York based label. “It’s like family. They call and see how the kids are doing. I got the record execs coming to the strip club with me.”
There are probably plenty of B-More strippers paying their rent off the money flying during Tate’s anthems such as “Poppin.” But followers of the self-described “King Of Baltimore And N-ggas' Girls” should not expect the rising artist to only present rap music. Kobang is not willing to accept being labeled a one-style performer.
“I honestly can do everything. Some motherf-ckers be like, ‘I can do everything.’ No, I really can do everything. That’s why I gravitated to people like Nelly and Swizz Beatz. These are the people that can touch any genre. Nelly had a #1 in every f-cking genre,” adds Kobang. “I want to do a Country record and maybe do a Gospel record with my grandmother. I don’t want motherf-ckers to put me in a box. Ever. It’s hard to get out of that box.”
He continues, “N-ggas could never say R&B or Pop or Country is not Tate Kobang, because I gave you that from the jump. I gave you everything.”
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Stream Tate Kobang’s Lord Of Da Trenches below.
PHOTO CREDIT: Dizzuane