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Kobo the masked rapper: “enjoying my private life is the real luxury”

On April 27, Kobo gave his first concert in Belgium for Les Nuits 2019 at Botanique. He performed some tracks of his first album 'Période d'essai', which will release on May 24. Chase met Kobo before his concert to learn more about the person behind the mask and the release of his first album.

Interview by Nora Nqi, pictures by Koby Ignoul

Kobo is a new gem in the Belgian rap scene. From his early childhood on, he was influenced by Congolese music and by his mother who made him interested in art. In 2016 he released his first two tracks 'What's my name' and 'Présumé Sobre'. He soon acquired a small following and got support from rappers such as Damso. In 2017, he made a track for the original soundtrack of the movie 'Tueurs', where he talks about different social inequalities. He also participated in 'Rentre dans le cercle' where he gave his first freestyle, which allowed him to gain more visibility in France and Belgium.

Kobo Les Nuits 2019 Botanique
KOBO - Picture by Koby Ignoul

HI KOBO, COULD YOU INTRODUCE YOURSELF?

"I'm an author, performer, rapper and I'm learning to be a composer. I'm here at Botanique for my first concert in Brussels. It's a pretty important moment for me so I'm keeping my fingers crossed. It's also my first concert in Belgium because I'm signed with the French label Polydor, so all the concerts I gave so far took place in France. But I like it, it's good to discover another audience and culture and expand a little bit more internationally. As for my name, I simply chose it because it's a word in Lingala (one of the national languages of Congo) which refers to a black person, male or female."

WHY DID YOU START DOING RAP?

"First, I started doing rap simply by passion. I was hanging out with friends who were already making music. As I accompanied them to the studio and met them regularly, the desire to rap came to me too. So I wanted to try and see if I could do what they were doing. It came naturally as time went on."

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR MUSIC?

"I try to make authentic music that best reflects the person I am and the person I want to become. That's really where it starts from. It always had this therapeutic side: I make music just to express what I feel. Things that you might not be able to say to somebody in a conversation, I try to express in my lyrics. Actually I'm more expressive in music than in everyday life."

KOBO - Picture by Koby Ignoul

WHY DO YOU WEAR A MASK?

"The mask concept allows me to distinguish myself from the classic clichés that we see in rap video clips. When you listen to my music, you feel that I'm talking about the realities I'm experiencing. And a lot of young people are living the same realities as me, but I try to present them differently. I want to be different visually in my video clips from other rappers. I want people to think: "Yeah, he's talking about general issues but when I look at his clips, he's different."

So this mask is an artistic choice but also a will to keep a private and normal life. I don't want to reveal myself too much. With social media today, sometimes it can be a little too much. I also learn to enjoy my private life because I think that's the real luxury. Having little moments with your family and your loved ones. Just be at peace and enjoy with the right people."

CAN YOU TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOUR FIRST ALBUM 'PERIODE D'ESSAI'?

"I chose the name 'Période d'essai'? because it's the expression that best reflects the state of mind in which I am right now, in which I started making music. I stopped school and ended up making music because of necessity. I had to stabilise myself, I had to make a living in some way. This first project will contain 13 tracks and maybe some bonus tracks (surprise!). I consider this project as an album that allows the audience to get a first glimpse of my world and the person I am. The first single of the album 'Baltimore' is one of my songs that got the most views on YouTube (718,156 views) and was most appreciated by the audience. So stay tuned until May 24 for more!"



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