UA Pursuit Profile: Tate Kobang Will Make You Dance to Forget
He's making music to make his friends, family, and city feel like life is beautiful again
This is a sponsored post by Under Armour.
Under Armour’s latest collection, UA Pursuit, is for those above the influence–the haters, distractions, obstacles, and anything in their way to dominance. It’s for those who are on an endless pursuit for greatness–a pursuit that doesn’t just end on the field, in the office, or in the booth. They’ve designed a line of ready to wear pieces to take you from the practice field to game day, whether that’s a literal example or a metaphor for your daily life. To help exemplify their inspiration, Under Armour chose a handful of athletes, musicians, and tastemakers to profile. These are their stories.
Everyone’s seen The Wire. Or at least you know someone who has. It’s grim. The lawlessness and violence that it puts on display as exhibit A for the city of Baltimore is unfortunately a sad reality for many of its residents. With the frighteningly high murder rate, as a high school senior, you’re praying to see 21. And yet there are the select few who refuse to sit paralyzed by the odds. For Tate Kobang, he read the pulse of the city perfectly and tapped into an endorphin-releasing, dance-inducing, raw energy-oozing wave of hip hop that just might be enough to raise up the slumped shoulders of the entire city.
For a teenage Tate, rapping was an obvious hobby to have. It could get him girls and cash. Attending high school in Pennsylvania afforded him time and freedom to practice his rhymes, away from his ever watchful, church going mother. He related in a Noisey interview that when she found out that he was spelling curse words right in his writtens but struggling in the classroom, she compromised and made him at least promise to put his all into refining that skill the best he could. So from freestyling over Cassidy’s “Drumma Bass” and Wiz Khalifa’s “Never Been,” he would clock in the hours until he took his shot with “Bank Rolls.”
When Tim Trees’ “Bank Rolls” came out in 2000, there wasn’t really a blog network for it to even have a chance to spread to other parts of the country. It came and went in Baltimore but found a significantly more prolific afterlife when Tate Kobang used the same beat for his own slightly melodic flows–melodic as in more akin to early ‘80s rappers like Fab Five Freddy or Grandmaster Flash than Chance or Future. The ripples were big enough that Lyor Cohen and Kevin Liles’ 300 label came knocking to sign him.
The wind of success came quickly and at a trying time, at that. Days before turning 21, his mother had passed. Then a month later, his father had passed as well. At 25 now, his memories of his parents and the value he puts on waking up alive everyday has kept his head out of the clouds: “Losing my mom and dad… it takes time. It keeps me grounded. It keeps me moving. A lot of other people would’ve folded up, but that was my motivation to go harder.”
Tate has stuck to his winning formula of injecting the energy of a dark, sweaty club playing Bmore house into his music. He wants other artists from Baltimore to make it out like he has and collectively, give his city the attention like others have done for theirs: “I want us to have one of those Chicago years, one of those Atlanta years… New York, they had their run. Everybody’s got a run but the DMV hasn’t, really.”
What helps him realize how his life is bigger than his reality are his children, all five of them with one on the way. Having the means to support a family the way he wants gives him a daily reminder to work harder than the day before, not to mention making all the business aspects of his career bearable.
Tate has simple advice for those enduring extreme opposition in some form or another: keep praying and keep going on. With his mother favorite hymn, “Open the Flood Gates” in his ears, an undying perseverance in his blood, and a dedication to help his city in his heart, Tate Kobang plans on doing the damn thing in making his way to the top.