At just 18 years old, rising R&B artist Obai is living out his dreams. Last year, he was featured on CBS Mornings and the 19th Season of Grey’s Anatomy. Earlier this year he released his debut EP svnteen.
“I’m not gonna lie. At first it was going to be a Daydream before svnteen,” Obai shared at a press conference with 1824. “The reason for that was because for me, specifically, seventeen was my worst year, but also my greatest year…You know I was working on the project, but I was also experiencing a bunch of stuff that I’ve never experienced before because of the position I’m blessed to be in. I got to be in a bunch of different rooms…I get to see things and I get to talk about it in my music. But a lot of the time I wasn’t able to capture everything. So that was why I was really going to call it daydream, because I felt everything was just like a daydream. I had no idea what was going on.”
For as long as he can remember, Obai has been influenced by the music he was surrounded by. “I’m just a melting pot of everything that I’ve ever consumed,” he says.
As a kid in Phoenix, AZ, he found inspiration in the soulful beats of his sibling’s 90’s/00’s R&B and pop and the intoxicating melodies, storytelling, and theatricality of his parents traditional Sudanese music.
Through all 9 tracks of his new EP svnteen, Obai has seamlessly blended the addictive sounds of his youth with his teenage life and his humble, family-forward beginnings.
His family continues to be a part of his story even as an adult. “I’ve been going on these label trips for a while now,, so I’ve had my mom be on every trip. Like my mom has been with me and that’s just been the norm. Even after I turned 18, she’s still with me.”
Obai captures this unwavering devotion for his family on track 5 and his favorite song off the EP, “journals.”
“It’s the most personal to me,” he says. “You know, I talk about my mom in there. I talk about where I come from. I talk about the people who weren’t so much on the page at the time when I first started making music…I’m speaking from the heart on that song.”
From “weekend” to “dancefloor,” Obai bares his soul with pure authenticity that makes the EP a relatable and heartfelt experience for listeners.
“I think authenticity is one of the biggest most powerful things you can possibly come across to a person, especially when you’re making music. So if you come across as being authentic, off top you have a great personal connection.”
“I have always wanted my music to act as some sort of beacon of light,” said Obai.
Obai’s sincerity is not limited to his music, it runs through his business life.
“My best friend. He’s my creative director. I met him in the 6th grade in art class. He’s like my brother…I would talk to him about everything in general. when I started making music, he was just there,” Obai shared.
He also works hard to showcase Arizona creatives in his work, especially in his video for “dancefloor,” “I love Arizona creatives. I feel like everyone is kind of tapped into each other. The whole world doesn’t know us. It’s like our own personal hotspot.”
This year, Obai plans to continue to expand on his discography and absorb every bit of advice from mentors like Bryson Tiller.
“I want to branch out to more experimental sounds. I also want to build a bigger universe with everything. I think I could always do better with stuff. Every video I just want to get crazier and crazier so for every roll out for every video it’s just going to get crazier and crazier,” he says.
“It’s been a beautiful ride, but this is for sure just the introduction,” Obai promised.
Follow the ride, by visiting https://www.obaimusic.com/
Featured Photo Credit: Marina Luiz Reyes