Interviews Music

Disrupting South Africa’s music landscape with Obe Bomaye

Difference and innovation are two feats that are hard to come by these days and with the increased amount of monotony and lack of uniqueness in music and art, it is becoming difficult to find curators that can put out work that is captivating. One may easily find oneself stuck in conundrums which entail questions of where to find young artists that are going against the grain by refusing to compromise who they are for the sake of popularity and fame. Although in many ways art is subjective, but it is always great to filter the bad out to ensure quality. How often do you find a talent that gets you excited about creating and the work that results from creative releases? It is without doubt that we are spoilt for choice when it comes to music, but the big question is: Can the artists that flood playlists globally create work that stands the test of time? Only a few can manage to do that and Obe Bomaye is easily an artist that has the potential to be a landmark in South African music.

Obe Bomaye embodies everything that it takes to create work that is timeless and work that will stand the test of time. With only one track on Soundcloud and a few features, Obe has managed get his song featured on The African Hip Hop Blog, which is arguably one of the biggest Hip Hop blogs in Africa. We need to stress the fact that some artists only get to achieve this after having released a lot of musical work. Well thought-out raps and expertly executed flows separate the men from the boys. We had an opportunity to chop it up with Obe Bomaye and we got into his mind and got to understand who he is.

We have an interesting story about how we came across your music and the story is rooted in the power of the digital age and the ease with which connections are formed online. We were on a quest on finding South African music online which was alternative with respect to the music landscape in South Africa, we found you through a friend on Facebook and we had to find out more about you. Please introduce yourself and tell us more about how you got create music?

Obe Bomaye: First of all, big thanks for reaching out! It’s always great working with a platform that recognises and encourages independent movements that aren’t just on the mainstream wave. I’m an artist who is currently based in Cape Town. I am from Port Elizabeth originally but I spent most of my childhood in Pretoria. As a rapper and graphic designer I express myself best through these two art forms. I’ve always loved language and painting vivid ass pictures with my words so Hip-Hop just happened to be the best way for me to release all the wild thoughts I had stuck in my head.

How has your upbringing shaped the person that you are right now or rather the artist/creative that you are? The places that we inhabit and visit have a way of shaping how we think and how we perceive the world. Where are you currently based?

Obe Bomaye: I’m currently in CPT but I’m moving back to Gauteng next year. I have moved around quite a bit in my short life and I feel like me being in all of these different spaces has really given me a broad outlook on everything. I absorb quite a lot in whatever I do so everything that I have learned has had a great impact on my creative process.

Who are some of your influences? One cannot simply box you in a particular category. We can see that from the stark musical differences on the songs that you have been featured on?

Obe Bomaye: Some of my biggest influences are rap acts from the late 90’s and early millennium. Black Star, Slum Village, Method Man & Redman… and local emcees like The Anvils, Zubs and Tumi. That’s what I grew up on. My older sister is quite the Hip Hop head so she passed on a lot of her knowledge and music taste on to me as a young’n. As I grew older I then began to draw inspiration from more alternative artists/bands like Kid Cudi, Fela Kuti, 340 ml, M.I.A and such. That really started to shape my sound and it pushed me to go beyond the safer and more traditional form of Hip Hop.

Tell us about your creative process and how your song 40 000 Hitmen came about? What were some of the motivations and inspirations which lead to the creation of that song?

Obe Bomaye: I recorded 40 000 Hitmen about 2 years ago with a close friend of mine, iamx. We are part of a duo called @parallelworldz but that project is sorta on hold at the moment. I was going through some things at the time so the song speaks of the challenges and demons that I was facing. I only decided to release it recently because I went through a similar slump again and I felt like it was the best time to let the track go.


Do you think that South Africa is ready for the style of music that you make? This question could easily tie into what you’re trying to achieve with your music. Are there any gaps that you’re trying to fill which you have identified?

Obe Bomaye: I believe that there is definitely a market for the type of music that I make in SA. Whether the masses are ready to invest in it or not? I’m not quite sure. I know a lot of people who are hungry for my type of sound. I really love trap but I feel that it is quickly becoming saturated in the local scene. Everyone is gunning for the same crowd. I’m pushing to reach beyond S.A borders and tap into foreign markets as well so I try not to worry too much about only appealing to the South African audience. I believe it’s bigger than that.

The South African alternative, underground and beat scene has seen a steady increase in the last few years. These days, you can find talented people which could be placed within those categories from all corners of South Africa and this is due to the increased realization of the power of the internet. Are there any South African artists that you would like work with?

Obe Bomaye: There are quite a few artists that I admire in the mentioned scenes/sub-genres. I generally gravitate towards artists who have a different style to mine and who really embrace the unique aspect in their respective arts. To name a few Mashayabhuqe KaMamba, Beat Sampras, Moonchild Sanelly, Petite Noir, Ganja Beatz, Nonku Phiri… I really feel like we (South Africans) have a lot to offer to the world in the “alternative, underground and beat scenes” therefore I could go on forever about the local artists that I would like to collaborate with.

Do you feel that there are enough platforms in South Africa that give artists like you that create the music that you create? What are some of the things that you would like to see?

Obe Bomaye: I feel like these platforms have been popping up everywhere in recent times and that there has been a lot of progression in that regard. I don’t think we should be wait to be handed anything and that we should rather create these spaces ourselves. If we do that then we also get to retain some ownership of the movement rather than just letting the corporates come in and scoop everything up. I’d love to see more Black/African-contemporary-artist focused festivals though, events based on concepts that are similar to the AFROPUNK and Camp Flog Gnaw festivals.

What is your opinion on collaboration? Do you think that South African artists/creatives need it more now than ever?

Obe Bomaye: I believe collaboration is extremely important in any context. South African artists need to come together now more than ever because all eyes are on Africa. The culture vultures will try their best to conquer and divide us in order to maximise profits, so we need to be very strong as a unit.

Where would you like your music or any other creative efforts that you’re involved with take you?

Obe Bomaye: I would like my music to take me all over the world. I want my creativity to be a vessel that carries everything that I hold dear to my heart.

What are some of the challenges that you face as a young artist residing in South Africa?

Obe bomaye: One of the biggest challenges is trying to remain as authentic as possible without letting the styles of America and the West influence your work too much. It’s also quite difficult to pursue your passion on an empty stomach, so juggling work makes it tricky as hell.


Given a chance to perform anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

Obe Bomaye: I would really love to perform in Kenya. Almost every Kenyan person that I’ve met has a really cool aura about them, their taste in music is also quite diverse. What’s brewing in the London scene is also very dope and I feel like my style would be received quite well over there.

How are you using social media and the power of the internet to share your music and your other creative work?

Obe Bomaye: I try my best to engage with people who share similar interests. Whether it be art, politics or even sports. Sparking conversation in these kinds of circles makes it easier to attract people to my music pages, links and what not.

In closing, where can people find you on the internet? Any words for your followers and potential followers?

Facebook: Obe Bomaye

Twitter: Obe Bomaye

Instagram: @blk_shepp

Follow Obe Bomaye on Soundcloud

I would tell my followers to be patient and please keep their ears to the streets. I’m working on some really gravy stuff at the moment and I feel like I’m going to shake things up! Word.

Obe Bomaye is someone to definitely to look out for. The Nusoulhub Radio team will keep following Obe and updating the masses about the work that he will be putting out in future.