Black Cobain was born and raised in Virginia, and after his uncle introduced him to Nirvana and Kurt Cobain, he was given a nickname which became his rapper moniker. After graduating from Virginia State University, he knew he could make a comfortable income by becoming a popular MC. Cobain began to perform at local venues, collaborated with underground MC’s, and put out a host of freestyles. In 2009 he signed to “The Board Administration” as their first artist. (TBA is a management and record label under the MMG imprint and are now “Every Blue Moon.”) Cobain’s longtime friend Le’Greg O. Harrison formed the company with Wale and helped him with bookings, marketing his debut album Attention Deficit, and putting together a production imprint just for him.
Harrison introduced his recent signee Black Cobain to Wale, and although the co-sign was nice, Cobain only worked harder to gain an organic fan base. Thanks to his hard work, dedication, and ease of making friends, his 2010 mixtape ‘Now’ featured Wale, J. Holiday, Wiz Khalifa, and Raheem Devaughn. In 2011 he linked with Wale as the spokesperson for the fall and winter Tokyo Rocksmith Campaign and dropped his 3rd mixtape ‘Young Gifted And Black” via Rocksmith. Although many hip hop heads enjoyed the project, it was far from universal. It slipped by many due to poor promotion (which was no surprise as TBA failed miserably with Wale’s debut album) and lack of appreciation.
I came upon “Young Gifted and Black” by chance as soon as it came out. I visited Datpiff.com on a regular basis back in 2011 along with most hip hop heads looking for their next favorite mixtape. At that time, I often downloaded free projects I knew nothing about due to interest and need to feed my downloading addiction. I knew nothing about Black Cobain, but YGAB had a good amount of downloads, and I noticed features such as Wale and Stalley. Two days and 17 tracks later, I was hooked. Cobain had a deep, sometimes silly voice; could rap vigorously and slow things down for more accessible records. ‘Curious’ became an instant favorite due to its heavenly beat, vocals from Laura Song, and Cobain’s playful flow. He crooned for the ladies, but also rapped in free form. ‘I’m Cold’ was a throwback to his freestyle days, and undeniably proved he was the very song’s name.
Cobain used hooks and old-school soul samples for a healthy mix of pop sensibilities, romantic cuts, and impressive bars. ‘Young Gifted & Black’ was a huge step up from ‘Now’ in quality, song structure, and maturity. ‘4am’ with Wale became a hit single, and was revived on Wale’s 2012 mixtape ‘Live From The DMV, Vol. 2.’ Black Cobain wasn’t given credit for his commercial appeal, and YGAB soon fell by the wayside. He did his best to promote it with visuals and through social media, but it did little to bring attention to the tape.
Still, he found success in 2012. He toured the UK, released his 4th mixtape ‘Cheers,’ and was even considered as an XXL freshman. Cobain also opened for Meek Mill on his Dreams and Nightmares Tour and was featured on Wale’s ‘Bag Of Money Remix’ alongside Lil’ Wayne, French Montana, Yo Gotti, T-Pain, and Omarion. Unfortunately, by years’ end, his buzz was significantly less even after releasing 3 more mixtapes. I truly believe Black Cobain had the potential to hit the Billboard 100 if he continued to mix hip hop and pop with solid management, promotion, and distribution. His masterpiece is Young, Gifted And Black,” and continues to serve well on my iTunes.
Download Young Gifted and Black via Datpiff here.