If it’s dope, it’s dope

Obelo brings hip-hop to Peach’s in Yellow Springs

By Rusty Pate

Photo: Obelo will perform on Jan. 24 at Peach’s Bar & Grill

I’m sitting in the Peach’s parking lot as the temperature approaches negative digits. Even though I’m in a car with the heat cranked, I’m starting to lose feeling in my toes. It’s damn near midnight, and after chatting for nearly an hour, I’m about to get a full-on private hip-hop concert.

My first contact with local rapper Obelo (pronounced Oh-Bee-Lo) came through social media, which is rare for interviews like this. Usually, I exchange a series of emails with a publicist or manager, I eventually get a phone number with a time to call and have about 10-15 minutes to pull out a few quotes. I understand why things happen like this, but there’s a lot to be said for sitting in the same room with someone – looking them in the eye to see beyond the mythmaking.

He turns on his car, and Led Zeppelin blasts from the speakers. He told me earlier that he’s been on a Zep binge lately. He plugs his phone into his stereo and asks me what I want to hear. I tell him I trust his judgment and to just hit me with the best he’s got.

The most striking aspect is the control. He doesn’t rattle lyrics off at machine-gun speed or work in verbal acrobats, but the verses drip with heaviness. His voice carries a substantial weight, both in content and delivery. Earlier in the evening, he talked about when and where that voice was honed and sharpened.

His earliest memories of music sprang from the organ in the dining room. His parents exposed him to a wide variety of music as a child, even if he didn’t know it at the time.

“Music has always had a big role and kind of shaped my personality,” Obelo said. “[My parents] would take me to anything from a blues concert, to the orchestra, to pow-wows. I didn’t really realize it coming up, but I guess I got a little more exposure than most people do.”

Initially, he didn’t see himself as a rapper.

“I was kind of a busybody, wanting to make money when I got older, be a business man and do shit,” Obelo said. “A lot of people around me wasn’t really doing shit.”

C. Rose was a classmate who did want to rap. Obelo, being a sixth-grade mogul, offered to manage him. The two quickly became friends through this shared passion of music. As recording technology and software such as Fruity Loops and Protools became more affordable, they began making their own tracks.

The thrill of first hearing one’s recorded voice can be an intoxicating experience for many, but Obelo always strived for it to be better. When he learned that music needed to be mixed after being recorded, he decided to dive deeper into doing it right.

He attended The Recording Workshop in Chillicothe, Ohio, while still in high school to learn the basics. From there, he experimented. His self-taught style allowed him to not only record his friends and himself, but he also worked as an audio engineer with other artists. So much so, that the time he had for his own work began to diminish.

However, the New Year also brings a new focus back on his own music. His upcoming show at Peach’s Bar & Grill will be his first in several months, at least officially.

“I always pop up, drunk somewhere,” Obelo said. “I’ve been doing this for some years now, so people let me touch the mic and I’ll do a set, but as far as promoting and putting artistic energy into it, this is my first show since July.”

When asked in email to describe what people can expect from the show, he cryptically replied “ritual magick.”

Not many current musicians have the balls to describe their work in such terms. They seem more concerned with figuring out ways to get into consumers’ cell phone screens. While he understands the necessity of such devices and services, Obelo still thinks they’re evil.

“I think it’s encouraged our throw-away attitude,” Obelo said. “People have become comfortable with the inorganic machines acting as a buffer between each other’s real personalities and you can hear this in the music both on the radio and on the smaller scale. Music isn’t seen so much as an intimate physical activity anymore, engaging a living spirit, it is seen as a cheap data transfer that could earn these people some sort of validation.”

That’s not to say he feels any negativity towards the current state of music. Sitting in his car, listening to him spit to an instrumental track, his passion cannot be denied. If people can come to that through streaming music on their phone, so be it.

His passion and voracious appetite for music also knows no boundaries like “genre.” He has a very simple mantra that applies to more than just music in his life.

“If it’s dope,” Obelo said, “it’s dope.”

Obelo will perform at 10 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 24 at Peach’s Bar & Grill, 104 Xenia Ave. in Yellow Springs. The show is 18+ (ID required) and admission is free. For more information, pleae visit facebook.com/ObeloMusic.

Reach DCP freelance writer Rusty Pate at RustyPate@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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Reach DCP freelance writer Rusty Pate at RustyPate@DaytonCityPaper.com.


  1. If it’s dope, it’s dope – Obelo brings hip-hop to Peach’s in Yellow Springs| Dayton City Paper | Music Connection- Dayton - January 24, 2015

    […] For the full story, click here: If it’s dope, it’s dope | Dayton City Paper. […]

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