Wrap Up And Watch Out: Kobi Onyame
The Wrap Up recently caught up with Kobi Onyame, a Ghanaian rapper based in Glasgow, on the eve of the release for his latest single, 'Congratulations', to talk heritage, music, culture and the future! Here's what went down…
The Wrap Up: Kobi, welcome to The Wrap Up. From looking at your bio, it's clear you have moved around quite a bit in life – from Ghana to London to Scotland. How has all of the moving around influenced or impacted your music?
Kobi Onyame: I feel it has been beneficial for me as I've subsequently experienced the difference in cultures and I show that in my music. The hip-hop music scene in Ghana, London and Scotland are very different and the multicultural experiences make my music even more unique and diverse.
TWU: You are currently based in Glasgow, right? Where you are arguably the brightest star in the urban scene there, do you think being from outside of London has been a barrier to 'making it' or getting great recognition?
Kobi Onyame: First of all, thanks! There's a growing scene of artists/producers in and around the city and we all contribute and collaborate for its growth. It's a bit 50/50. Being from outside London has meant it's been difficult to be at that 'right place' at that 'right time', as they say, because the industry hub is indeed in London. Nevertheless, the Internet age has helped with networking and raising awareness, so being in Glasgow hasn't stopped me making contact with the right people. There are loads of radio stations, DJs and promoters up here who have been supporting my musical journey. I've had certain opportunities I may not have had if I was still in London, such as opportunities to open for the bigger acts on their Scotland legs of their tours, etc. But the industry does exist in London, so I always try to make it down there as much as possible in search of that 'right place'/'right time' scenario.
TWU: I guess it is working seeing as you’ve had a lot of national support, too, collaborating with the likes of Sway, performing at Glastonbury and getting your music played on radio stations like BBC Radio 1 and Kiss. How and why do you think you have managed to penetrate through, whilst many regional acts haven’t yet?
Kobi Onyame: God is good and he hasn't stopped smiling on me. My team isn't big, my budget isn't big, but I've maintained a hard work mentality and persistence. Maybe that's why I'm still single! (Laughs) I've learnt over the years the importance of networking with the right people, researching to find the right people and, most importantly, making sure those right people hear a song, see a show or watch a video.
TWU: So your latest project, 'Green Green Grasses', charted in the iTunes UK Hip Hop Chart, which is major. Can you tell us more about that project?
Kobi Onyame: Yes, sir. The album peaked at No. 29 in the iTunes UK Hip-Hop chart. I was really happy with that as it was an independent release. I recorded the album over the last 12 months. It represents me over the last couple years in the music industry and my life. Concepts range from struggles, pain, realisation of dreams and just plain fun. It features some great guest appearances from Sway, Emeli Sande, Saukrates, Young Fathers, M3nsa and more, who I’ve all worked with in recent times.
TWU: The title of that album is quite interesting. Has the grass ever been greener on the other side for you?
Kobi Onyame: The grass always seems greener on the other side. Indeed it has! I think everyone tends to think the grass is greener on the other side. Slowly realising goals and dreams make the grass greener for me, personally. Also, sometimes you find out that the grass isn’t as green as you thought it was. It’s more of a mind state and a constant pursuit to better yourself as a person and just be successful. In doing that, we all become human. It might be different for everyone else.
TWU: Since the album hit, what else have you been up to and what's to come for the rest of the year?
Kobi Onyame: Since the release, I have been gigging in support of the album. I played at a few festivals, such as Rockness, goNorth, T In The Park and Wickerman, and I played my first headline show at the O2 ABC2 in Glasgow, which was great! I’m planning to go on the road independently and play more gigs in support of the album and raise awareness of my music, myself and my brand. I’ll also be shooting some videos from the album for the next few singles, which I am very excited about.
Stay up to date with Kobi Onyame on Twitter – www.twitter.com/KobiOnyame
Words: Yaw Owusu (@MrYawowusu)
Online editing: Joseph 'JP' Patterson (@Jpizzledizzle)