For someone who's been in hip-hop for a short amount of time, 17-year-old Louisiana rapper SSGKobe has made some big waves both in and out of the genre. He started making music in 2018, spurred by two friends who were known as the local cool kids. Wanting that same level of love and admiration, the aspiring rapper learned how to record from them when he was 14. He started posting his music on SoundCloud, dropping "Wyd ?" in the summer of 2019, a mid-tempo, guitar-driven song about protecting himself from enemies that he released while still in high school. Before the year was done, SSGKobe released projct x in the fall, a five-track effort featuring his sing-song hooks and melodic rhymes.
With just one year of rapping under his belt, the music SSGKobe was releasing got him on the radar of various record labels. He started to rack up streams left and right, and even caught the attention of Zack Bia, a Hollywood DJ, party promoter and founder of Field Trip Records. The rising rhymer linked with Bia as a creative partner for his forthcoming release.
SSGKobe, whose rap moniker stands for "Super Saiyan God," inspired by Dragon Ball Z, went on a run starting in early 2021. In February, model Bella Hadid posted in her Instagram story a snippet of an unreleased song titled "Tired of Me," giving her more than 38 million followers a preview of his new music. That look was followed by Kobe dropping "Thrax" (over 6.6 million Spotify streams and a TikTok hit early on) a few days later in February, "Calabasas" featuring $not (8.7 million Spotify streams) in March and his official debut EP, KO. in late April. Bia's label served as the creative partner for the project. Now, the week-old track "MIA" is closing in on 2 million Spotify streams and YouTube views—the Cole Bennett-directed video features Kobe in an homage to The Nightmare Before Christmas.
Last month, SSGKobe became a major label artist after signing to Columbia Records. He also graced the stage for the biggest performance of his career thus far at the Rolling Loud Miami festival last week. Everything is coming together for this self-proclaimed Harry Potter fan.
Catching up with XXL via phone, SSGKobe is this week's focus of The Break.
Hometown: Centerville, La.
I grew up listening to: "Before rap, I was listening to a lot of pop music. I would probably say, rap-wise, Chief Keef, Kevin Gates, Lil Wayne, that group. It was new, and I just never heard it before, so I liked it."
I’m going to blow up because: "People coming up to me saying I helped them with things they was going through. Just like hearing all the positive feedback, and also seeing me grow, all of that together."
What’s your most slept-on song, and why?: I don't think I have a slept-on song. I feel like I haven't even shown what I really can do. A lotta people think I'm just a trend rapper ’cause I'm new, but I'm definitely here to stay and I have a lot of great music. I don't have an underrated song out, but music, when it comes out, it's gonna be good."
My standout records to date have been: "'Thrax,' 'MIA' and 'Calabasas.' These songs came out, drop after drop. I think 'Thrax' came first, then 'Calabasas,' now 'MIA.' So, it's like every drop, I get bigger."
My standout moments to date have been: "Being able to perform at Rolling Loud. It was good. I'm looking forward to the other ones, too, the Cali and New York."
Most people don’t know: "I'm a big Harry Potter fan. I don't know if people know that. Ever since I was young, I was reading books a lot. So, I just saw and I always wanted to be that kid in school, who like, read the biggest books. 'My book was bigger than yours!' So, I kinda just found it, and it was one of the biggest books in the library. So, I read it, and I just got interested, it was just so cool. Then I just read all the books. Then I found out they had movies. So, I saw the movies."
I’m going to be the next: "GOAT."
"Calabasas" featuring $not