The Come Up: Tate Kobang Gets Pusha T and Swizz Beatz in His Corner
Tate Kobang has had an interesting year since XXL spoke to the Baltimore spitter in 2016; “Bank Rolls (Remix)” is now a distant memory, with his latest single “North North (Still Hangin')” taking its place as the go-to dance track in the DMV—even Pusha T, one of Kobang’s favorite rappers, has shown the track some love.
“That’s like, shit, you wanna play basketball and Michael Jordan telling you he like your jump shot," Tate tells XXL of the Pusha cosign. "That’s fire.” The video now has over 168,000 views, and between “North North” and his new mixtape, TateKo, Kobang is looking to shine some light on his city and reintroduce us to real rap. He does admit, however, that he hasn't delivered his best—yet.
TateKo shows growth on his end, but in his eyes, Kobang isn’t truly giving the game his all. “It’s a lot of rapping, it’s just not rapping,” he jokes. “I’m rapping, but I ain’t spittin'.” The 15-track tape was produced entirely by Tate and his in-house team, aside from the notable cuts "Selfish Freestyle" with Chaz French, which Honorable C.N.O.T.E. takes credit for, and "Ello?" with Swizz Beatz. He himself describes TateKo as "fun, fire, but still street."
"I try to step away from the street shit as much as possible, but when it’s all you know, it’s hard," Tate adds. "It still seems to peak its ugly head."
TateKo also features guest verses from Deetranada, Young Money Yawn and West Side Goldie.
The 25-year-old 300 Entertainment signee continues to represent and show love to his hometown. During his latest talk with XXL, Tate describes his charitable efforts in Baltimore, and the plans for the video of his new single, "A Hunnid T's." With a fresh tape out and his city by his side, Tate Kobang is a step away from becoming unstoppable.
XXL: Who inspired you growing up?
Tate Kobang: Mr. Cheeks, Wu-Tang [Clan]; mainly R&B. I don’t know if Lauryn Hill would count as R&B, but Carl Thomas. I like Nelly; Nelly was fire. Nelly’s still fire, too, by the way. The Isley Brothers, Luther [Vandross]. Definitely gospel music. I ain’t gon say was, it’s still definitely there. I ain’t been to church in a minute, but I’ma go soon.
How long have you been working on music?
Since ninth grade. I actually used to write songs for my uncle back when I was like, 9. He ain’t never use none of ’em, but they was fire. I started playing the saxophone, took tap dancing, piano classes and stuff. Ain’t none of it last because, you know, I was doing a bunch of dumb shit, but I was doing it. So it’s been a long time. I was on the choir. Music and art is in my family, it’s in my blood.
How did you and Swizz Beatz link up?
[When “Bank Rolls” came out] it was like, three days straight he was just uploading videos of him, his kids [and] his mom dancing to the record, going to the slopes about to ski and he’s dancing to the song. He hit me [on Instagram] and we just linked up from there.
What kind of advice has he given you in regards to the music industry?
Basically don’t let these muthafuckas rush me with anything and don’t let them stop the show. And just keep it moving, stay genuine and just make them dance.
You recently released “Ready” with him and Vashtie. How did that come about?
Shoutout to Vashtie and Swizz Beatz. We just did it for the culture. You know she’s not a rapper.
Yeah, I was very surprised.
One day she’ll look back and be like, "Nobody believed in me, but Tate put me on a fuckin' record, and that was lit."
Which artists would you like to collaborate with that you haven’t yet?
Kevin Gates. Gotta work with Kevin. Free Luca Brasi.
I don’t know, I don’t know. I don’t think he ready yet [laughs]. I’ve yet to start really rapping. I’m saving all my good energy and shit for Pusha, Eminem, JAY-Z. When I get on tracks with them, then I’ma really rap. As for right now, I’m just doing layups. I ain’t really shooting my jumper yet.
You have a dope concept for the visual "A Hunnid T's." What's that going to be about?
We’re gonna put together a hundred T-shirts and we’re gonna drive around. We’re gonna go to the schools, to the malls, hit the shelters and just touch the community. A lot of people get their money, or whatever the case may be, and they forget about home. And then they wonder why when they come back home niggas is killin' they ass or they getting booed off stage. All that shit is because the shit is deeper than music.
I just wanna give back to the community, as I always do. Just to show ’em I’m a human, too. I’m just a human in a somewhat better predicament than other people. But I know how it feel, I don’t wish that on nobody. So we’re gonna go and show love to the community. Maybe bring out the grill. Matter of fact, it’s getting too cold for that shit [laughs]. But "A Hunnid T's," it’s gon be fire.
And you do charity work often, correct?
I do shoe drives every April 19, on my mother’s birthday. [It’s] called Kicks for the Kickless. Every year since I started it’s gotten bigger, more endorsements. DTLR, Shoe City came through, Reebok sent some stuff. And the next one, it’s gon' be big.
I sat down with the mayor, we’ve done a bunch of block parties for the kids. Done some Stop the Violence events. We need them and they need us. The same way with the President. If they don’t know what the fuck is really goin on, ’cause they not really out here, how they gon' know what to fix? That was difference with Obama. Obama knew what the fuck was goin’ on. Trump don’t know what’s going on, but we ain’t got no choice. We stuck with him. We gotta make something happen. They there, they’re not here, so we gotta get in there, tell them what’s going on [and] how they can make it better.
How was your appearance on Wild ’N Out?
Wild ’N Out was fire. I was shocked [that] “Bank Rolls” was the record they warmed up to before every show, so that was amazing. They had dance routines and shit. It was crazy.
You have a clothing line called No Flwrs. Do you plan on expanding that into something more?
Yeah, I’m actually gonna brand that and make that the name of a little subgroup that I’ma put together. It’s not really gonna be a group, I’m not having anybody sign to me. I just know a couple people that have the potential, but they might need some help getting polished or finding their sound for real, or whatever the case may be. And we all just gon' get together and build with each other.
But No Flwrs is really just mean being focused, cause all the things that flowers represent are all the things that knocked us off our pivot and sidetracked us from getting money, like death, love, shit like that. It’s tunnel-vision time, that means no flowers. We focused.
Overall, how has your life changed since the last time you spoke to XXL?
I got like three more kids, a couple tattoos [laughs]. Nothing really, I’m still working. I can say I’ve grown into my artistry. I’m figuring out this whole song-making thing, and I’m more established as an artist. And people actually trust my work and my ear. Other than that, that’s really it. Got a little taller [laughs].
What's 2018 looking like for you?
I’m just ready to apply pressure. I don’t know, I’m not really impressed with people’s music nowadays. I feel the longevity. Everybody’s that’s heard my music or seen my grind say that, "You’re not gonna be an overnight thing. It’s gon' be one of those Drake, Kendrick Lamar situations. It’s gon take some time for you to really be where these old niggas is at. But you gon last." ’Cause I got it. I can do everything; country music, all that shit. So reinventing myself as times goes [on] ain’t gon be nothin, man. Just need the support, that’s it. We get them eyes, we gone go.
See New Music Releases for December 2017