Interview: Chatting with rapper OBAS about ‘Hugging The Streets’

Image courtesy OBAS
Image courtesy OBAS /

When talking about hip-hop, Connecticut doesn’t usually enter into the conversation. Yet Connecticut is home to OBAS (Only Believers Achieve Success), who recently unveiled the music video for “Hug The Streets,” featuring Rick Ross.

Spending part of his early years in Haiti, where he grew up surrounded by intense poverty, violence, and life on the streets, OBAS learned the difference between right and wrong, the lure of easy money, and the satisfaction of work.

Later OBAS cut his teeth on the rap circuit in Connecticut, beginning in 2005. Today, he uses his understanding of life to connect with people. When he hooked up with Rick Ross on “Hugging The Streets,” the two rappers had something in common – both made a decision and both came up through hard work.

Their shared experiences are reflected in the lyrics of the song.

"“Told my youngin you don’t got to play the streets and end like this / Standing on this corner one day gotta dump a clip / Running from the police or the shooters who don’t miss / Either it’s the morgue or shiny metals on your wrist.”"

Rhyme Junkie spoke with OBAS to discover how he got into the game, how he linked up with Rick Ross and the rap scene in Connecticut.

Interview with rapper OBAS

What drew you to music? When did it click for you?

Great question, I was at a barbecue in 1996 and a song came on by the artist “Scarface” with the lyrics “I never heard a man cry till I heard a man die”! I was sonically struck. His voice, the darkness of the beat, his lyrics, and his message just had my young mind stuck. That day I made a conscious decision to make hip-hop a part of who I was.

How would you describe the rap scene in Connecticut these days?

Connecticut is a gumbo of talent. So many different cities with their own stories to tell and the hustle is always a driving force to win. A vibrant scene with superstars on the rise.

What’s your single “Hug The Streets” about?

“Hug the Streets” is a calling to the young world still thinking doing wrong is the only way to elevate. I come from that environment and understand all the highs and lows and it’s not worth it. Building yourself up a business and going hard at a legitimate way of doing things is where you will get the biggest rewards. Too many times the genre congratulates the illegal way of doing things; my approach is to promote a business-savvy approach.

How did you connect with Rick Ross?

Ross was an interesting connection, to say the least. I went on my Instagram and asked my followers to tag Rick Ross and let him know I need a verse for my next EP. Several hundred people tagged him and within an hour I had his manager on the line. The power of social media is real.

Who directed the music video? Was it a fun experience? Anything unforeseen happen?

The video was shot by @ITSWAM – We Are Movie Productions. It was great and went smoothly. Ross was a boss as expected, I had the red carpet rolled out for him and he showed up, stayed a few hours and we made a movie. Great shoot.

What albums are you listening to right now?

Currently, I am still listening to King’s Disease by Nas. Congrats to Esco he just won a Grammy. Benny the Butcher as well out of Buffalo New York with Griselda Records. They are of today and represent a time I could relate to a lot in my life.

How did you navigate your career throughout 2020 with the pandemic situation?

2020 was a good year for businesses that were set up properly to elevate. We did well, purchased distressed properties, released more visual content that did well because more people were tuned in online, and we expanded our global reach with social media. The new wave is on the internet which my model has been for several years now. So, we did well.

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What’s next for you this year?

Building on this “Hug the Streets,” feat. Rick Ross to go global. We have TV, radio, and more coming for it – to follow up with an album later on in the year, titled OBAS’Qiat, in ode to Basquiat the Legendary Haitian painter. Continuing to spread the music and brand of OBAS to the world. Bless.

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