Three years ago, Amir Obe was done with music. The rapper and producer decided to record one final project exactly the way he wanted. He poured his heart into Detrooklyn, named in honor of the two cities that raised him, posted the tape online and prepared to find a different career.
"I put everything I could into that project so if it was my last, I could listen to it when Im 30 and still be proud of it," the Detroit native says. "I was working so hard with few results and felt I needed to tell my story as authentic as I could. It was 100% me. If something came out of it, cool. If not, Im not gonna pursue music heavy."
But being true to himself resonated more soundly than hed expected. With Detrooklyns release, Complex branded him a "force." Fellow Detroit native Big Sean called. And Drakes manager reached out. By February 2015, a song Obe co-produced, "Star 67," appeared on Drakes surprise mixtape If Youre Reading This Its Too Late. Seizing on the surprise restart of his career, Obe recruited features from longtime friend Partynextdoor and dropped two EPs, Happening in the Grey Area and Wont Find Love in the Hills. The records sent a tremor through the music industry, with XXL commending his commitment to "substance over selling out" and the Fader praising his music as "dreamy, sad and sensuous."
"I started getting into putting out my feelings and talking about real scenarios, and I realized what people really loved from me is my honesty," Obe continues.
Four years later, that sort of forthrightness has not only freed him creatively, its found him a devoted legion of fans whove felt disconnected from the constant braggadocio and emotional void in mainstream rap. In being himself, flaws and all, hes actually given them the confidence to do the same.
"A lot of [artists] arent being themselves. They shy away from being vulnerable or being themselves and theyre not speaking to the people," he says. "Thats my freedom."
Via Bedford Music Marketing