Black Cobain: Ambition Beyond The DMV
It's been a long time since we heard a rapper from Virginia, and according to Wale, Rick Ross, DJ Khaled, and Rich Kleiman, Black Cobain is next up from the commonwealth state. Currently signed to The Board Administration, which was also in charge of producing and marketing Wale's More About Nothing, Eleven One Eleven Theory, and Ambition, Black Cobain got his first shot and stamp from Wale when he appeared on the track "Who Don't."
The stamp has been a gift and curse for the Virginia rapper, who is often characterized as "living in the shadow" of Wale, or for lack of better words from some writers, Wale's "sidekick." Since 2010, Black Cobain has released four projects, including his latest Cheers, toured around the world, performed live with Mark Ronson at the Royal Ballad in London, and made national TV appearances. We sit down with Black as he opens up to us about his relationship with Wale, being characterized, touring, collaborating with Pusha T, the his new mixtape Cheers, and more.
AllHipHop.com: Glad to catch up with you. You so busy!
Black Cobain: That's a good thing. I love it; everybody trying get they hands on me.
AllHipHop.com: Where are you now?
Black Cobain: I'm in Virginia.
AllHipHop.com: What are you doing in Virginia ?
Black Cobain : I'm chilling right now, doing my Twitter thing, just finish hitting a jay, about to eat some Popeye's [laughter].
AllHipHop.com: Weren't you in ATL, too?
Black Cobain: I was in Atlanta doing the Greg Street show . Then I went in the studio and started working on my next project.
Black Cobain: Yeah. Oh yeah, we probably got like 8 or 10 songs already for another project.
AllHipHop.com: Are you signed?
Black Cobain: No I'm not signed yet. We taking meetings in July. I'm not really concerned with getting signed; I just want to keep making good music and building my fanbase.
AllHipHop.com: Did Wale actually sign you to The Board Administration?
Black Cobain : No, it was Legreg Harrison.
AllHipHop.com: Your relationship with Wale is...?
Black Cobain: We cool. Actually, when I was in the "A", we were in the studio together and kinda co-produced a song that's going be on his next album. I try to talk him once a week. I know he's busy, man.
AllHipHop.com: So he's more like a brother ?
Black Cobain: Right now, with what I am trying do and what he's trying do with his career, he's more like someone I can look to when I have a question about the industry, when I want to take an angle on a song, or have a problem with my girl. He's good with sh*t like that. I can always reach out to him, and he always hits me back.
AllHipHop.com: You get a lot of comparison with Wale; how does that make you feel?
Black Cobain: Right now, I think they slowed down from what they used to be, and that's makes me feel good, so I can see we going in the right direction.
AllHipHop.com: Why do you think they compare you?
Black Cobain: I just think it's a part of the affiliation. I feel like when Drake came out they said he sound like Wayne, but until they seen him without Wayne, it didn't become real to people. That's the type of thing I'm doing right now, with trying be around my friends and have everybody I grow up, with opposed to just being around Wale. He supports that. We talked about that when we were on tour. So now, it's just coming to fruition.
AllHipHop.com: On your new mixtape Cheers, you've got a line where you said, "If Ralph is Jordan/ I'm cool with Scottie Pippen." You received a lot of backlash for saying that in a few reviews I read. Are you cool with being Scottie Pippen? Can you explain that line?
Black Cobain : I think people kind of took that as Scottie Pippen just sat back and was the shadow of Jordan. People don't realize that without Scottie Pippen, Jordan wouldn't have those f*cking rings. My man got as many rings as Jordan. My man got his on place in history. He's top 50 in the greatest NBA players of all time. He's a part of the dream team. He has his on legacy. So if you don't understand that line, you're a idiot.
AllHipHop.com: Didn't you just come off tour with Wale?
Black Cobain: Yes.
AllHipHop.com: Is this your first tour?
Black Cobain : Yeah, it was my first tour. I finished a leg of a tour a year before, but it didn't really have a name. I was just doing spot dates, like 15 cities and we had a tour bus, but it's nothing like a worldwide tour. I been on the road before, though.
AllHipHop.com: How did the Mark Ronson and Royal Ballad come about?
Black Cobain: That was Rich Kleiman reaching out to G, 'cause I guess Wale couldn't fill all the dates. So they believed I could go over there and learn the music. I did, and I built the relationship with Mark Ronson and a couple other people who will probably come to light in about a year. That was just a great opportunity. Thanks to Rick Kleiman, Wale, and G for giving me that opportunity.
AllHipHop.com: How was the experience?
Black Cobain: It was dope. I enjoyed myself. I learned a lot about the culture; I soaked it up. They were paying me out there, so I was really enjoying myself going to clubs, bars, going to see Buckingham Palace. It was just a great experience.
AllHipHop.com: Did it open you up musically?
Black Cobain: Yeah, it did. I was working with a live a band. I was rapping on songs that were composed by Mark Ronson and Andrew Wyatt. Like, I don't think people understand how amazing that is. They love me as rapper. I can email them now, and they'll respond right back to me. That's a good place to be, especially as an unsigned artist.
AllHipHop.com: You have had a lot of good looks as an unsigned artist, including performing at BET Rip The Runway. Do you feel like performing on BET was a milestone?
Black Cobain: Absolutely. To be on national TV, that was definitely amazing. I definitely received a lot of love for it.
AllHipHop.com: You said earlier you don't really care about being signed. Why?
Black Cobain : I appreciate the struggle and the grind. I appreciate what we doing right now. I'm not in dying need to get signed. I think if we build enough steam, we going to be good. I just rather have the labels come to me.
AllHipHop.com: You said build enough steam; let's talk about your fanbase. Being from Virginia , what does Virginia mean to you?
Black Cobain : I think it's a prestigious place. We gave to the game a lot of successful artists. I just want to be another one added to the list. From producers to rappers to singers, I just think people overlook the talent here.
AllHipHop.com: Since you came out you been representing Virginia hard, not a lot of rappers have been outspoken about Virginia. Do you feel now, since you came, that other artists are stepping to the plate?
Black Cobain : Yeah. You remember how it was when I came out. I was one of the few representing Virginia. Now its like 30,000 Virginia rappers, and I think I'm one of the pioneers who made it accessible, to making it cool to be from Virginia. I feel good about that.
AllHipHop.com: You recently released a vlog with you and Pusha T at his birthday party. Are we going see a collab? What's the relationship there?
Black Cobain : You definitely going see a collab. He's the big homie. He's kinda giving me advice , coaching me and telling me what he has been through. I just listen 'cause he's been in the game for years. He's doing his thing with G.O.O.D. music. We just real cool; we homies.
AllHipHop.com: So you got the new mixtape out - Cheers? You went from Now or Never to Young Gifted & Black. How did you to get Cheers?
Black Cobain : I got to Cheers just being on the "Ambition" tour. Really just having a good time and really just enjoying the fact that I was on a worldwide tour - 53 cities, on a tour bus and really living my dream. We was drinking every night. It was fun, like this was what it was about. I have 'ambition' tattooed on my hand because it a part of my life I will never forget. So I just felt at that time of my life it was Cheers. Every night, we was toasting to fact that we was young, Black, on tour living our dreams, making music, and wooing thousands of fans every night. It just complimented it when I went to London to work with Mark Ronson. That's how they greet each other, and that's how they say 'Thank You.' So it just all tied in together, so I thought it was the perfect title for where I was at in my life.
AllHipHop.com: What does this project mean to you?
Black Cobain : I love the whole project. The recording process for this project was so awesome and epic. We didn't tape any of it, but we have the memory of it. Every day, every moment was special to me. So every record has some value to it. One my favorite records that I really love on there is "Penalty of Leadership".
Black Cobain : I just felt like it was definitely the timing of the record. When I wrote it, I was really going through these emotions. I know people say that a lot, but I was really feeling these emotions. The way that it came out is how I felt. It was like the perfect words. I don't think I ever wrote a song like that.
AllHipHop.com: You often say 'Cobizzy' on a lot of records? Who is Cobizzy?
Black Cobain : Who Cobizzy? You mean when I say "Cobizzy, what’s happening" [singing]. Yeah, that's like the alter ego of Black. I don't want to be boring [laughter].
AllHipHop.com: You got a lot of mixed reviews on this tape. A lot of the writers felt you missed substance on this tape as you had on previous tapes? How do you feel about those reviews?
Black Cobain : I don't know; I don't really feel anything. I feel like you can't please everybody all the time. So I feel like it is what it is. If you a fan, you going to keep supporting. Then you might hear the music you once loved or what you think I should be rapping. Music changes every day. I'm not going make the same music. That's just stupid, that's boring, that's wack, that's not a challenge. Like, I'm going make different music. If that's not the one for you, listen to Young, Gifted and Black 'til I make the records you love.
AllHipHop.com: Do you think this one of you best?
Black Cobain : Yes. Absolutely.
AllHipHop.com: What's next for you?
Black Cobain : I got the OMD video out, and when y'all see where we releasing it at, y'all going love it. Then we got Spillionaire video. Then I am back to A to work on some record, me and Tiara Thomas are getting back in the studio on her project. Sallie Mae coming soon. Fatz Da Big Fella Heart of King is in the streets. We just working.
AllHipHop.com: Cool. Well is there anything else ?
Currently, Black Cobain can be seen on Meek Mill's "Dreams and Nightmares" tour.
Follow Black Cobain on Twitter (@BlackCobain).