Back from a tour with Public Enemy and Prodigy, Obeah is one of SPITdigital’s newest artists with his new EP, Live in Liverpool, and album Never Looked Back, soon to be released. Obeah brought it alongside Chuck D and DJ Lord on Lord’s Eat The Rat album. He talks about how he got into music, his inspiration, how he connected with Chuck D and Public Enemy’s DJ Lord, and his upcoming new album with SPITdigital.
The SPITslam Group (Kate G): How did you get into music?
Obeah: I’ve been into music since I was really young. My father played drums in high school and then hammer dulcimer when I was growing up. I have an older brother. I started to get into hip-hop around kindergarten because of him. I was influenced at first by all the stuff I was allowed to listen to, like all the Pop stuff, MC Hammer, Vanilla Ice, etc. but also some classical stuff that wasn't as explicit like De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, etc. From that point, I was hooked. In my adolescence I was really into gangster rap out of shear rebellion. Later when I grew up, I became less and less interested because I couldn’t really relate to most of it. I still appreciate it, but I tend towards more 'conscious' stuff. I first heard Public Enemy on MTV and then when my brother got Apocalypse 91, I wrote my first raps in the 5th grade and bought turntables when I was 14, started a group with some older friends when I was in high school and played my first shows around 16 or 17. When I graduated, I moved to Atlanta and after a few years of stagnancy, I started to work my way into the local hip-hop scene and started playing shows steadily for years with The ContraVerse. This is when I really began to cut my teeth and become professional.
Where do you get your writing inspiration?
Obeah: I'm inspired by the experiences I've had and experiences I want to have. I'm inspired by struggle and triumph. I'm inspired by those artists who came before me who shared wisdom in their music that sparked in me an interest to learn more about counter culture and social injustice. I enjoy party music too, but I want to be able to make people think with my songs.
How did you meet Chuck?
Obeah: I met Chuck at a music studio in Ventura, California on that fateful night in October of 2014 while on vacation with my girl. I had known Lord for years already and had always hoped to get to meet Chuck, but I knew that it would happen when it was supposed to.
Tell me about your involvement with DJ Lord.
Obeah: I met DJ Lord around 2007. I was with a crew at the time called The ContraVerse, and we met him through the local club scene and would kick it every now and then. He dug our music and we collaborated with him on a song. After that group dissolved in 2014, I was hanging out with Lord one night and he suggested starting a group together. I was super excited and started writing songs then. It wasn't until many months later that I was on vacation with my girl in LA that I met up with Lord and Chuck D by chance and recorded songs for Lord's album, Eat The Rat. Since then, we've continued to work on new material and play shows in Atlanta and all over Europe.
Currently you are working on your first solo album for SPITdigital. Share what has gone into the making of this album?
Obeah: This is my first full-length solo album. I've always gravitated more towards group projects. I released two albums with The ContraVerse and one recently with my group, WAKE. One is in the works with my other group, The Difference Machine as well, which I only DJ in. I'm lucky to be a part of a huge interconnected group of talented people in Atlanta who all help each other with our projects. It's kind of like a huge 12-headed monster. The new album is called Never Looked Back. It's a selection of songs I've been working on for the past year or so. The title track is about being from a small town, being raised around a small town mentality and leaving that in search of culture, different experiences and perspectives. It's not a concept album, but the title track defines the overall sentiment. I am also putting out a new EP, Live in Liverpool which was recorded while on tour with Public Enemy and The Prodigy on December 2nd 2015. DJ Lord holds down the turntables as I perform two new as yet unreleased songs and two off of Lord's Eat the Rat album.
I'm lucky enough to have a studio in my basement and a roommate who is a phenomenal audio engineer, so it's been easy for me to record songs. The album has production from some Atlanta friends, Threepeeoh and Keith William, as well as Michal Menert from Denver and also cuts by DJ Lord.
Kate G is Kate Gammell for Update Reports on The SPITdigital SLAMjamz Recording Label Group