When we meet up with Tate Kobang at the Times Square Sheraton, he's in bed swallowing vitamin capsules while goofing on Periscope. He's groggy, fresh off a series of college tour stops down South; this week Kobang and his team flew into New York from Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Kobang, a young 300 Ent. rapper, is wild busy these days. Having introduced himself a national audience on the strength of his "Bank Rolls" remix, Kobang is back at the table with a new single, "Oh My," which is the grooviest song he's made to date.
Today, we're excited to premiere his latest track and video for "Pick Up Your Face," a freestyle that Kobang recently recorded with DJ Bay Bay at K104 in Dallas. Given his city's unfortunate prominence in news headlines following the death of Freddie Gray last April, we met withKobang to talk about Baltimore, respect for black women, white-bro crowds at Southern colleges, dancing, and butt-play. It's almost too much. He's almost too good.
Talk to me about “Oh My.” This one sounds different.
We was on the Young Hustle tour, and we made a stop in Atlanta. This wasn’t our first time meeting with C.N.O.T.E. He had already started [producing] some shit that was crazy. He ain’t finish the beat. He looped it, laid it out, and then he had to go to a meeting. So he left me and my 15 homeboys in his crib. We was playing his PlayStation. He ain’t know what I was doing with the record. He told me, don’t go into the sessions and shit looking to find a single. Just go in and make your music. We weren’t fucking thinking we was gonna go in that bitch and leave with that shit for real. We was in there cooking, you know?
I was tripping off the song because the vibe is very dance-y, which is a different direction for you.
Swizz, man. Swizz Beats told me this is what they checking for right now. Give them what they want. Reel them in. When we drop this EP, niggas are really gonna see what’s really up. We making hits in every genre. And a dance record—it’s Baltimore. It's our culture. We move.
There’s the one line where you rap, “Just cuz she dance don’t mean she a hoe.” Talk to me about that sentiment.
There’s a lot of misconceptions about strippers. Niggas be like, “Some bitches strip to try and pay their way through college,” and it's true sometimes! It’s hard. Everybody not meant for selling drugs. Everybody not meant for kickin' doors and shit like that. Especially females. So what’s the next best thing? You got this body, and you ain’t got to fuck nobody. You probably gotta fuck the nigga to get to work in the club, but after that, you straight. You just dancing. Some clubs don’t even let you touch the strippers, which is some bullshit.
I grew up with mainly females. My mother, my grandmother, my great-grandmother, my aunts. I seen the struggle that women have. People don’t understand it. Women really have it bad. Just being black women, they don’t have too many ways in which they can get money and not be judged from it. A woman, a successful woman, she in the office building and it’s like, “Oh, who's dick did you suck for you to be a successful CEO?” She’s just a hard-working woman!
Baltimore been in the news for the past year now, for all the wrong reasons.
With this Freddie Gray shit, it’s just crazy right now, bro. But it’s always a bad time in Baltimore. This ain’t the first time police killed a nigga back home; niggas die everyday. This is just the first time it’s reached a national platform. Now people actually give a fuck about it because they have no choice. The tension has been real. Fuck the police.
Does it feel different at all? The vibe of the city?
It’s definitely on edge. As soon as they say the motherfuckers ain’t guilty, shit is going down, bro. Definitely.
Where else have you been lately?
I’ve been in Atlanta a lot. We’ve been to Mississippi, and we just left Alabama. We just left Alabama. We just did a show at the University of Alabama. It was fucking lit. I love doing shows for white people.
If you never drank Kool-Aid in my house, or you wasn’t there to help me carry my mother’s casket, or my grandmother don’t approve of you, you ain’t go no future here.
White people already so hard. You ain’t got to worry about niggas shooting. You don’t got to worry about niggas getting mad because you fuck their bitch. White boys are offering you their bitch. "Hey, bro, this is Jessica, I love her, we are married, I invested all my money and time into her but you could definitely put your dick in her mouth, I’d love that shit."
On our rider, we put chicken in there. It’s so funny. They’re like, "We got hot sauce for you guys, too! We was in Alabama, and they were like, What video games you play? I was like, “2K.” We knew it!" I was like, “Damn, did you just call me a nigger, bro? I feel like you just called me that, for real. You knew I was going to say 2K and fried chicken, bro.” They are cool, though. I love it.
What kind of shows were you doing down there?
It was mainly colleges. We did S.O.B.s up in New York. We did House of Blues all over the place. We performed in Chicago and didn’t die. It’s crazy out there. Baltimore is crazy but goddamn—all these niggas with Pelle Pelle on. It’s time to go, bro. Any nigga you see in a Pelle Pelle jacket, it’s time to go. When you see a group of niggas in Pelle Pelle, get the fuck out of there.
You had “Bank Rolls,” now you’ve got “Oh My.” What’s next? What's your big plan?
We are strong believers of quality over quantity. Niggas drop five mixtapes a year and don’t do no fucking numbers; they just dropping a bunch of fucking content. We don’t have a problem dropping one track that’s going to last two years. Everything has got to count. I say it like this: If you never drank Kool-Aid in my house, or you wasn’t there to help me carry my mother’s casket, or my grandmother don’t approve of you, you ain’t go no future here. If the women in my life don’t approve, then you ain’t gonna last. Momma know. Momma always know. Grandmamma know. Great-grandma know. Believe it or not, kids are very strong readers of aura; if my kids don’t fuck with you then I definitely don’t fuck with you. All this shit is way deeper than jobs and titles. My brother Dizz, we were in here talking about my first mixtape; he recorded my first freestyle nine years ago in the house. We recorded on the Rock Band microphones with a sock over the top. We recorded through Virtual DJ. Mixed it, edited it, did the drop outs, all the shit.
What did you spit over?
“Drumma Bass” by Cassidy and “Never Been” by Wiz Khalifa. We had some shit, bro. My grandma would drive around in her red Solara and bump that CD—to this day.
What was it called?
Why are you laughing?
It was just really bad. But it was so good. Just the fact that we came this fucking far.
How young did you start freestyling?
I used to write raps for my uncle when I was 9 or 10. My uncle was really doing it. I remember when we lived on Chestmont, in East Baltimore, my uncle had the studio setup in the basement. We had a family function, and they put all the kids in the studio at one time. I was popping my shit to the point where my uncle was like, “Oh! What the fuck was that?” My mother was like, “You know who that was!” I was always into arts though. Music has just been there. It was inevitable. Now we here! Seven million on Spotify! That’s one platform.
Who else are you working with right now?
I don’t want to work with too many people. Production-wise, C.N.O.T.E., Swizz Beatz, Cassius Jay, Nitti. We got a crazy record with Nitti. YG! Beats, that’s my hometown brother right there, he produced like 95 percent of my music for this project. Millz Douglas. I produce as well.
How did you learn to produce?
We went to school for that shit up in Pennsylvania. We went to Central York High School. They had music tech and piano classes. I used to play the saxophone, so I knew how to read music. I’m really good with these lips. That’s why I get bitches cheating. You don’t eat pussy and ass like Tate Kobang.