In light of Amir Obe‘s return to the fold, with the EP Can’t Be A ___ Here: Chapter1, we’ve put together a timeline and evolution of the work that got him here. Amir Obe is clearly passionate about making music a full-out, immersive experience, bringing emotions and ideas both to hold onto and build towards, kind of like his influencers Kanye West and Pharrell. Obe equally embodies the truth behind the fact that success is often a series of trials and errors. Scroll through to follow the journey of an artist who loves the musical process and is forever keeping it low key.
Early 2009 knew Amir Obe, whose real name is Amir Obeid, as Phreshy Duzit from MySpace. He started his career by freestyling on the then-very popular social network, until he amassed hundreds of thousands of followers, and was picked up by Atlantic Records, for a brief moment– he would only release one EP under the label.
Disengaged from Atlantic, Phreshy Duzit released his debut, The New Religion mixtape in 2012. This project not only connected him with producers he still works with frequently to this day– NYLZ, among others — it contained some fan favorites like “American Love,” a single that discusses the back-and-forth toxicity of love in young relationships, specifically in the context of American culture. He peers into the mind when it comes to lying, acting reckless, the night scene, and the rawness of these types of emotions. This mixtape followed closer to the melancholic sound he currently caters towards today.
He wouldn’t release a project for another two years, during which, he also announced a name-change, after his birth name. He started his own collective called Neighborhood PHCK$ and released his second mixtape named Detrooklyn in 2014. He’s often called ‘Detrooklyn’s’ finest as these are two places responsible for certain qualities he brings to his music. Every track in this mix has a different point and a different purpose. He described the project as a whole as “the grey line of being back and forth between Brooklyn and Detroit.” Fan favorites off of this work are, “Feel It,” “Hennessey Breath,” “Jay Z, Kanye, Esco,” and “Drugs & Cam’ron.” Detrooklyn was the first marker of Amir’s curated, and more developed sound, lending itself towards what we hear today. It’s on this project where we get this certain mix of the high and low, a grittiness that has persisted in his current music, and a penchant for experimentation when it comes to the production backing him, as well as his creative way of titling. These are all attributes that started to develop with Detrookyln.
Meanwhile, the content itself is stark and honest– lyrics from this project find Obe being down and out over his music not popping off as soon as he’d like: “I should prolly quit, maybe sell cocaine cause a n***a still ashamed sitting on the train.” Detrooklyn was a therapy-project for Obe, in this sense, it not only set the stage for the rest of his career, but acted as a way to cleanse his career and start anew.
Happening in the Grey Area served as Obe’s only 2015 release, as you can surely tell already, he’s never been one to overload fans with music. Obe collaborated with PartyNextDoor on “I’m Good” and “Truth,” their moody tendencies a perfect match. Pair that with Obe’s production credit for Drake‘s If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late cut “Star67,” and you will be unsurprised to find out that rumours were spreading of an OVO signing, which Obe would later dispel.
Happening in the Grey Area was more diverse, the project showed Obe’s penchant for r’n’b but versatility as well: you could blast it in the car, in your headphones, or in the club. Fan favorites off of this EP are “Still No Good” featuring Eli Sostre and “Truth For You” featuring PartyNextDoor. By continuing to work with a close-knit circle of producers, consisting of NYLZ and Eli Sostre (from day one!) he would be able to ensure the progression of his sound in a way that made “sense.” His producers would be wholly understanding of his musical evolution just as much as he would forge it.
This year brought us Won’t Find Love in the Hills, perhaps his most noteworthy release on a fame-level. The project consisted of only three songs “Before the Vomit,” “Took You Seriously,” and “One Night Thing,” all of which took off individually. “Before the Vomit” speaks to his fears of being in a relationship (being used for fame, a girl that talks to multiple other guys), things that all spill out when he’s been drinking. In 2016, Amir also appeared on a double feature with Daniel Caesar from Stwo’s “Fill The Void.” These records show how he often wears his heart on his sleeve, a trademark of his lyrics and style.
It was towards the end of 2016 that Amir would officially announce his deal with Def Jam, linking up with a major label once more.
In 2017, we got Amir Obe’s first release under his new label, Def Jam, going hand-in-hand with his debut single “Wish You Well.” This single is actually a bit lighter for Obe, with a Carribbean flare on the beat giving it a more upbeat feeling than something like, say, his new release “Holy Shit.” In this way it proved more accessible perhaps, yet a song like “Free” proves he hadn’t let go of all his feelings and introspection, that moodier side of his music.
None Of The Clocks Work proved that Obe wasn’t content with staying in the shadow of previous collabs with the likes of Drake and PND. He continued down the path of dark, atmospheric r’n’b, with a flare that contrasted what his peers were doing (and included more creative titling, adding a series of symbols to the album title).
The single “Holy Shit” led the way for Obe‘s latest release Can’t Be A ___Here: Chapter 1. Obe has stays true to the ominous, contemporary r’n’b sound he’s developed for almost a decade now. The production is experimental as ever, blurring the lines between even vocals and production, between rapping and singing, electronic and hip-hop and r’n’b all in one. Again it’s a case of Amir’s own introspection and his own observations of the world around him which make his lyrics unique. Amir continues to let the music do the talking– it is a rather humble way to go about being an artist, and in turn, it often takes longer to get the pay off. In addition to the four song EP, he dropped a visual for “Holy Shit” that gives us the same creepy feels as “Wish You Well” did.
What are your thoughts on Amir Obe’s latest EP? Sound off below.