SongVault Artist Profile
NV, United States
HipHop / Rap
Multi-talented multi-instrumentalists: Meet Somobe (pronounced “So-Moby.”) With a name lifted from a swing era phrase signifying “So Cool,” the Las Vegas-based performing, producing and songwriting team -- Jonathan “Jon D” Owens and Roland "Bob-J" Llapitan -- are introducing an uplifting, vibrant brand of hip-hop that bonds beats to vocabulary; imagination to intellect.
With their debut CD, The Great Communication, the duo is poised to deliver their first full-length release under the auspices of their company, Get'em Productions. With one new song already nominated for Hip-Hop Song of the Year by the Independent Music Awards, placement in The ASCAP “I Create Music Expo” promo reel and a subsequent invitation for Somobe to attend the society’s exclusive Rhythm & Soul Awards in Beverly Hills -- plus the track’s inclusion in an upcoming indie film -- there is a formidable buzz about the duo in their early twenties who have been rocking houses for almost eight years. “Most hip-hop guys just jump into it,” says Bob-J, “but it’s a huge part of our lives.”
Jonathan Owens delivers agile word play; lyrics enriched by a captivating narrative, a pronounced point of view and a sly sense of humor. His messages may be positive but they are not sanitized. There is street smart cool, but without misogyny, violence or negativity. These words float over a compelling musical tapestry of hip-hop emboldened by a solid jolt of jazz. Owens, who also plays sax, says, “A lot of underground hip-hop samples bebop, Charlie Parker. Our stuff doesn’t sound like that; it’s influenced by smooth jazz.” The duo doesn’t use samples, preferring instead to create loops and grooves with the illusion of history.
Originally Somobe was a larger aggregation, a group who opened shows for P. Diddy, JaRule, Master P, plus old school R&B stars like War and Cameo. All of these experiences were valuable lessons in the fine art of big time show business. “The hip-hop guys were onstage, off stage and gone,” says Owens. “ But the old school acts would see these young guys playing music and they’d acknowledge us.” Over time, Owens and Bob-J concentrated their energies as a duo.
While visitors to Las Vegas are dazzled by the glitter of the famed strip, Owens and Bob-J know the other side of the city. “If you come to Vegas it’s like any other town,” says Bob-J, ” It’s just one two-mile stretch of road that’s crazy.” Their hometown’s boom inspired Owens’ lyrics for the song “Building” that includes these lines:
“I gotta say the ground’s shaking
White girls with hair like Jamaicans
Walking the streets in my hometown”
Owens explains his inspiration. “I was driving down the street and I saw this young black kid dressed in hip-hop clothes riding a skateboard. It was a crazy visual. Then I started to connect all of the different changes that are going on here in Vegas, of cultures coming together. Then I saw this white girl in the mall with these long dreadlocks – it tripped me out. And these high rises are all new to Vegas. The song is all about change.”
Change, transformation and metamorphosis: qualities that also define Somobe, two youthful purveyors whose creed is uniting, not dividing audiences. “I don’t purposely write things from my own view point, but I think a lot of the songs -- even though they’re personal experiences—translate,” says Jonathan Owens. “It’s important to tell your own story but to have people hear it and apply it to themselves.” In that spirit, The Great Communication heralds the vital sound and the emphatic soul of Somobe. (Dan Kimpel)