Second chances aren’t common in the music industry. Hell, most artists don’t even get one real shot to make it in rap. Amir Obè—the talented MC with Drake and OVO co-signs—is fully aware of this, and ready to take advantage of what’s in front of him. For Amir, he’s seen both the ups and downs of the industry, from his failed experience as an Atlantic Records artist in 2011 when he went by the name of Phresy Duzit, to getting a shout-out from Drake in front of thousands of people in his hometown. He’s seen it all, and thus knows what it takes to really navigate through the madness that is the music world in 2016.
The pathway to success hasn’t been ordinary for Obè, who reps both Brooklyn and Detroit, but that hasn’t deterred him from reaching his goals and setting new ones along the way. And though Obè reps two distinct hip-hop regions, he doesn’t believe that either really defines him as an artist. “New York was very lyrical in hip-hop, so it was kind of like I had appeal to both [New York and Detroit], I had to still come with some lyrical ability,” Obè says. “New York gave me the more lyrical appeal and Detroit kind of gave me the sauce and that bump, it’s like a marriage of both.”
That balance of two regions is evident in Obè’s music. His style is a mix of deep emotion and catchy melodies, and Obè has been on a tear with his releases lately, and notably the buzzing single “Before the Vomit,” which perfectly captures what he’s all about. Obè explains he’s learned true expression in music from listening to Kanye West and Pharrell when he was younger. “A lot of it is just inspired off of experiences and conversations, that’s really where it comes from,” he says. “Everything gets made in the moment, with the mood I’m in. It’s very easy to write when it’s coming from a real place.”
With the wide range of emotions and styles that Obè utilizes, it’s no surprise that his influences also come from outside of hip-hop. Whether it be David Bowie or Marvin Gaye, Obè took a lot from the music he listened to as a kid and applied it to what he’s putting out now. “I’m more of a rapper, but when it comes to my melodies, it comes from a lot of progressive rock,” he says.
As an artist, Obè saw his highest level of success in 2015 after he produced “Star67” for Drake, which was featured on the project, If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late. And while Obè is not signed to OVO Sound, the affiliation runs deep, with Amir opening for PARTYNEXTDOOR on tour and the two connecting on multiple songs that were featured on Happening in the Grey Area. “That’s what’s happening now, we’re kind of in the grey area and we’re trying to figure out the next step,” Obè says of his latest project. “I don’t think we’re at where we want to be at yet, I don’t think it’s exactly where I want to be at right now. I think it’s a form of discovery, I think now I’m starting to discover myself and what I want to do musically.”
Through his own discovery and music, Obè put himself on Drake’s radar and the rest has taken care of itself. “At that moment, I was making music for myself, and people from that camp were reaching out to just say that they’re fans of it and that I’m onto something,” Obè explains. “We just been going 100 miles per hour since then. He just liked the production that I was brewing and since that day we’ve just been friends ever since.” Naturally, with any artist that works with Drake going forward, the topic of how he collaborates with others is hard to avoid. For Obè, he just views it as inspiration to try and make the best music possible. “It takes inspiration, like I’m inspired by some artists that nobody has ever heard of, and inspired by artists in the past and I think Drake is the same way,” he adds. “I see a lot of similarities.”
While the Drake co-sign is a big deal, Amir Obè isn’t letting it define him, nor be the end of his story. Having been in the major label system before, Obè already knew what it would take to work with an artist like Drake and what would be expected from the situation. “From the [label] situation I was in, I feel like they just wanted to chase hits and they had their own perception of what a superstar is,” he says. “The hit-chasing process was probably the best learning experience I’ve ever had because that’s not what it takes to grow a fan base.”
Obè has seen not only his popularity on the Internet grow, but also the reality that he has people out there that truly care about him and his work. This was seen firsthand at his back-to-back sold-out shows in Brooklyn earlier this month, which proved that he’s much more than just another artist putting out music on SoundCloud. “The love that everyone has shown me for the two sold out Brooklyn dates was inspiring,” he recalls. “I’m constantly creating new songs and it was crazy to see my fans engaging with me live on stage and hearing my lyrics sung back at me word for word.”
As Amir Obè navigates through the next stage of his career and with another project on the way and more concerts around the world coming up, he’ll always have his past experiences to teach him how to move forward. “Where we’re at now is very personal, it’s like a venting process,” he says. Obè has a rare second chance in rap sitting in front of him, and he’s ready to take full advantage of it.