Tying neatly in with the second of our UKHH Summer Sickness recommended festivals, ahead of his performance on the Windmill Stage at Boomtown Fair this weekend, here are 3 reasons not to sleep on one of our recommended acts…
Generally speaking, the hip hop artists that i’d personally rate as being the illest tend to fall under one or more descriptions like complex/technical, dark or just proper weird. Which makes Kobi Onyame a bit of an outside pick here. Kobi is none of the above really. And that doesn’t matter one bit because his music sounds like sunshine dammit and I dig it! Heatwave appropriate playlistability aside, I’ve chosen Kobi, partly because on his most recent project he’s managed to create a sound that’s unflinchingly positive without making me cringe at all. More notably though, I’ve always found it surprising that with pan-Africanism playing a significant part in the foundation of hip hop as a movement in its early years, the space within the scene occupied by artists that draw heavily on African musical elements has always been relatively small. Onyame’s music is a testament to the fact that the blend works. Don’t Sleep!
Imminence (Only Matter of Time O)
Can’t express how much I love this tune at the moment. It’s had so many reloads this summer and there’s still something moving about it that hits me every time. As a single track ‘Imminence’ epitomises the way that on last album Gold, Kobi’s influences have coalesced into something that has the feel of an artist perfecting their sound. For hip hop heads simplicity and positivity are often dirty words. ‘Imminence’ is a master class in how to do both well, with lyrics overflowing with a childlike hope, full grown pride and common wisdom while feeling genuine enough to not come across at all cliched. Which would all be well and good, but comes fully into its own when paired with some mad triumphant horns, subtle afro-melodies and a surging beat that hits you in the heart at the same time as getting you marching.
The Real Part 2 ft DJ Dummy
With ‘Apache’ being one of the oldest and most legendary samples to ever be used in hip hop production, it’s a pretty impressive feat to take it and do something with it that sounds new, surprising and fresh. So mad props have to go to DJ Dummy for what he brought to ‘The Real Part 2’. This track owes its place on the shortlist to showcasing Kobi capably taking a walk through classic hip hop territory.
Chosen Ones ft. M.anifiest
Sharing the spotlight on this one with fellow Ghanaian M.anifest, (who Onyame first collaborated with in a crew in Ghana 20 years ago) ‘Chosen Ones’ is another strong example of what the MC/Producer’s style has solidified into. While in the early phases of his career, flirtation with the mainstream and commercial interest lead to some of Kobi’s output bordering on pop music, the fact that he didn’t blow up, moved to Scotland and went Independent seems to have been the necessary catalyst for artistic growth. A tendency towards writing songs with choruses has remained, but the sounds of Ghanaian Highlife have pushed themselves to the forefront and the production in general has become richer and more subtle. The result being a collection of songs that are undeniably hip hop but are littered with more dynamics and melody than most of the music in the genre.