Kobi Onyame (b. Kwame Barfour-Osei, July 3rd, 1982) is a Ghanaian, UK based independent recording artist, producer and songwriter. Described by OkayAfrica magazine as "the UK hip-hop game's unintentional preacher of sunny vibes…”, his music is a vibrant spectacle that draws heavily on African culture — both sonically and visually. “Kobi”, an acronym for his real name whilst “Onyame”, the Akan word meaning God, says the pseudonym acts as a constant reminder of his faith and to remind him to take God with him everywhere he goes.
Kobi was born in Accra, Ghana and grew up living his early years between Ghana and England. He prides his style of music as being multicultural and diverse with early musical influences including the likes of Bone Thugs n Harmony, Talking Drums, Notorious BIG, Jay Z and Michael Jackson. He attended the University of Ghana in 1999 and is a founding member of one of Ghana's pioneering Hip-Hop groups, Haatsville. After his bachelors degree, he returned to the UK to study for a Masters Degree in Business Economics at Strathclyde University.
His earliest musical success was with a mixtape in 2006 called “One/Ansa”. It was released with fellow UK based artist Myth and under his then pseudonym “Jae P”. The mixtape produced the single "Travelling Man" and was his first UK national radio play, premiered by DJ Ras Kwame on the Homegrown Show on BBC Radio 1Xtra in July, 2005. A few years later, tipped by Ras Kwame, Kobi went on to perform on the BBC Introducing Stage at Glastonbury Festival on Sunday 28th June 2009. In 2007, after delivering a copy of “One/Ansa” to the promoters of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Kobi was asked to open for hip-hop superstar Kanye West on the Edinburgh date of his Glow In The Dark tour. He has since gone on to share the bill and tour with several artists including Nas, De La Soul, Wu Tang Clan, Sway, Akon and many others. In May 2008, he released his debut album "Unsigned & Hungry” to credible reviews. Later that year, after the death of his mother, he went on to change his stage name to Kobi Onyame.
In 2009, Kobi released the first single under his new pseudonym called "He Said She Said". The song featured award winning UK rap artist and friend Sway. It was supported by BBC Radio 1Xtra and Radio 1. The second single "Inner City Lights" featured Canadian hip-hop pioneer Saukrates and Glasgow based singer songwriter Alistair Merrick. His second album “Green Green Grasses” was released on April 11th 2011. The album reached number 29 on the UK iTunes Rap/Hip-Hop charts and featured guest appearances from artists including Sway, Saukrates, M3nsa and a then unsigned Emeli Sande. The album went on to further establish Kobi as one of Scotland’s best and promising. Kobi Onyame was named one of the Class of 2011 Artists to Watch by The Sun. He was also listed as one of the Artists to Watch by BBC Radio Scotland DJ Vic Galloway. MTV named Kobi Onyame as one of it's Brand New Unsigned Artists to Watch and he went on to be named winner of the regional Unsung Award by MOBO subsequently joining the 2012 MOBO Awards tour. UK youth broadcaster SB.TV also featured Kobi as a Ones to Watch artist for 2012. Kobi’s third album GLORY was released digitally on November 4th 2013. Reaching number 40 on the iTunes Rap/Hip-Hop albums chart. The album featured a majority of Kobi's own production with guests including tour DJ to J Cole and Common, DJ Dummy. The album went on to produce radio success singles “Went Too Far” and “Call Out My Name” featuring Liverpool based soul artist KOF.
Kobi’s defining moment came with the release of his current album “GOLD”, released on September 1st 2017. The album received critical acclaim from music magazines including The Skinny, The List, Complex, Nation of Billions and Okayplayer and was recently nominated for the prestigious 2018 Scottish Album of the Year Award, picking up one of the coveted shortlist prizes. The album mashes his Ghanian heritage with contemporary hip-hop and creates an almost wistful echo of a yearning for home that somehow has its roots in the past and present simultaneously. Boasting singles “Imminence (Only Matter of Time o), “Chosen Ones” featuring M.anifest, “Still We Rise” featuring Wanlov the Kubolor and “Wedadi” featuring Heir of the Cursed, the album features a coming of age Kobi Onyame. The album has inspired a vibrant live show full of character, heart, soul as well as an art exhibition in which creative artists from different disciplines across the UK and Africa produced creative work in response to tracks from the album.
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