The music scene continues to evolve, and fresh faces are a necessity when it comes to ensuring the longevity of Hip Hop. At 22-years-old, KOB possesses eclectic, youthful energy and dynamic songwriting ability, putting him on par with veteran artists who take entire movements to the next level. His new mixtape “The All-American Reject” with indie-label Good Lyfe Musik, is setting a new standard for the future of musicality in Hip Hop.
Born in 1987 in Minneapolis, K.O.B. (an acronym for Knock Out Bars, pronounced cobe) spent his entire childhood immersed in music. While his father, a former model and actor, worked to feed his family as a postal worker, he also instilled in KOB a passion for performance. KOB began playing the drums at four-years-old, and latched on to old Rock & Roll and Blues music, ironically the same roots that became the foundation of Hip Hop in the 1970’s. KOB’s uncle, world-renowned jazz pianist Peter Schimke, also had a profound impact on the musical direction of the budding songwriter.
“As I’ve grown up, I’ve watched my uncle’s career and the moves he’s made, and it’s provided a blueprint of do’s and don’ts in the music industry,” says KOB. “His struggles and successes have taught me how to approach different situations. My dad instilled in me the love of music. Music became my escape, my way to handle my problems in a creative and constructive way.”
While struggling to fit in at school and avoid the temptations of the inner city streets, KOB made a strong connection with a neighbor named Tyrell “L” Edwards. Tyrell introduced KOB to rap music, which at the time wasn’t heavily exposed on Minneapolis radio. L and KOB began writing rhymes and performing around the neighborhood. Eventually L lost interest in performing music, but for KOB, the fire had just begun to burn.
Though he had been writing and performing for a few years, it wasn’t until 2002 that KOB stepped into the booth and recorded his first song. He was picked up by the local label Ill Concept Records in 2003. Though he was recording steadily, he lacked an important piece to his music: beats. His uncle believed in KOB’s talent and donated an old Roland XP-50 keyboard, which gave KOB the ability to produce his own tracks.
In 2005, four months before he graduated from High School, KOB released his first, self-produced project entitled Ethinomicks. For the next year, KOB and singer Marcus Allen independently promoted Ethinomicks, performing locally and nationally, vigorously demanding attention as one of the city’s better artists. During this time, KOB also met an important piece to his future, producers Tommy Real and Don Diego of Real Explicit Music. He immediately began working on his next project entitled Ballad of a Teenage Nobody. More important than the album was the guidance he received. Tommy Real, a former rapper himself, showed KOB how to write hooks, structure tracks, produce beats and navigate Pro-Tools.
In late 2005, KOB enrolled at The Institute of Production and Recording, but inevitably dropped out a few months later. “I didn’t want to be an engineer; I wanted to be an artist,” he explains. “You can’t be taught music, you gotta feel it.” KOB credits his lifetime experience as a percussionist as the backbone for his talent. “I’ve tried other instruments, took guitar lessons and tried piano, but drums were the only thing that could really keep my attention,” he says. “It gave me a physical rush similar to what rapping does for me, and it made me extremely aware of how to ride beats properly. The cadence and delivery in someone’s flow can feel more like another instrument on the beat.”
After putting in more work on his own, KOB was introduce to Good Lyfe Musik exec Varmah Morris by a friend, and Varmah refused to let KOB slip away. Morris and his two business partners signed KOB to Good Lyfe Musik and Morris Music Group Inc. After signing with Good Lyfe Musik, KOB released his first single "Invisible Man" in July 2008. This up-beat, feel-good anthem received continuous airplay on 22 FM stations, XM and Sirius satellite radio, and was featured on Sprint Mobile Radio. Since then, KOB has been recording and performing across the country, including stops with the Hot Import Nights tour (Minneapolis, MN, Phoenix, AZ and Honolulu, HI) and the LOD College Tour in the southeastern United States, as well as opening for a variety of major artists in his native Twin Cities.
In the next few months KOB will be releasing even more music, including mixtapes with major DJ's Green Lantern and DJ Holiday. He will also be releasing his new single nationwide, which was produced by Grammy-winning producers The Trak Starz. Additional production and guest appearances include a refreshing array of emerging talent, including producers The Tekz, Pop/R&B singer TP, rappers Kid Magic and Same Ole Slang and KOB's personal producers Team Voltron (Face O, Lunchbox, Brian and Verse Uno). Crooner JC brings light to the hook on “Invisible Man,” and will be featured on another track on the album as well. The project will surely to bring a new age of Minneapolis sound to the world.
“I really just want people to relate to me with my music,” KOB explains. “I just do me, and I think people connect with that. My life isn’t your life, but you can hear and feel the emotion in my lyrics and voice. I want people to recognize my abilities, but also the authenticity. ‘Invisible Man’ is really the perfect introduction of Kob to the world. Unlike a lot of radio records, it is a little more lyrical. I just think it’s the perfect showcase of ‘This is KOB!’ – I’m the Invisible Man… the superhero here to save Hip Hop and bring it to the next generation!”