Just riding the wave: student, rapper Oboise reminisces as he prepares for the future

Oboise Umobuarie
Connecting with people through the art of sound. Photo courtesy Oboise Umobuarie

“I always feel loved whenever someone listens to my music” – Oboise Umobuarie

By Isaac Adeoluwa Atayero, Contributor

Student musicians at the University of Regina, much like in other university communities all over the world, are a dime a dozen. Music seems to be a surefire outlet for students across a wide spectrum of departments to express themselves. But while many students make music, only a few are truly artists. Nigerian-born rapper Oboise is one of those few.

Oboise Umobuarie was born in Auchi, Nigeria to a family of art and music lovers.

“My grandad was a chief in his village and he made an instrument that only he can play,” he said. “My mom sings and draws, my brother plays the bass and the keys, and my cousin also draws.”

When Oboise moved to the United Kingdom at the age of 11, his musical skill stood out.

“I picked up music, especially with drumming, pretty quickly,” he said. “Eventually I taught myself how to play the keyboard when I was 14.”

Having found his path in the world of music, Oboise sang and drummed for his local church choir. And when he turned 17, he threw himself fully into the art. With his elder brother off to university and the walls of teendom caving in on him, Oboise decided to release his angst and frustration through music.

“I decided to drown the pain in playing the piano after work which transitioned into me writing songs about what was going on in my life,” he said.

Oboise describes the lyrics to these songs as vague, and he never planned on releasing them until he came across UK artist, Wretch 32. 32’s song, Helpless, would inspire Oboise to write lyrics for, record and release his own song on YouTube.

Since then, Oboise has released two albums, 6 EPs and six music videos and is currently working on a new project which he describes as a “game-changer.” His sophomore album, Infinity, was released on his birthday, January 25, 2020, and has been doing remarkable numbers on the streaming platform, Spotify. As of June 2020, the album has been streamed 193,000 times.

No one is more surprised than Oboise about his successes over the last five years.

“When I was recording my first song on my phone, I did not think I would be here but I could feel the drive and I knew I was going to keep striving to make everything work out in the end,” he said. His family, on the other hand, was not at all surprised.

“His dreams evolved from wanting to be a pilot to being a footballer,” said his father Abraham Umobuarie. “But I remember in Nigeria how he would watch the church drummers and then when we moved to the UK, he joined the choir and got his own drumsticks. Over the years, his interest increased and the whole family knew he was up to something.”

His family remains a steadfast support system for the rapper, critiquing his lyrics before he records them, commenting on his production and even helping him seek publicity opportunities. The same can be said for Oboise’s chosen family of students at the University of Regina, who have welcomed the rapper’s music into their lives and made it a staple in their playlists.

“I always feel loved whenever someone listens to my music or shares it but, I especially feel honoured when my peers at the U of R show me support,” he said. “No one owes you their support, especially with so many musical acts to listen to. It feels great to be lifted on the wings of people who have my best interests at heart.”

A fourth-year business student, Oboise admits that his friends have also played a crucial role in helping him keep his head above water when it comes to his studies. As he continues to balance being a student with his growing musical career, Oboise acknowledges that it is a struggle to control his ambition and his growing list of goals.

“I am building my brand so I have been trying to get features with bigger acts so I can leverage their audience and fortify my music resume,” he said. “I would also like to have a slew of live performances with devoted musicians.”

When asked if he felt pressure about what is next, he simply said:

“No, I’m just riding the wave.”

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