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Name: Adam Bernard
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Artist Of The Week – Somobe
Monday, October 22, 2007

Las Vegas. Whenever someone says the city’s name bright lights, beautiful women, gigantic casinos and never-ending evenings come to mind. Some might be surprised to know Vegas also has a Hip-Hop scene, or at least it has Hip-Hop artists attempting to be heard. Two such artists are Jon D and Bob-J, better known as Somobe. The name of the group is derived from an old jazz term, So Moby, which meant cool. It would turn out to be the perfect description for the duo with the smoothed out vibe. Last month Somobe released their debut album, The Great Communication, and this week I caught up with the duo, one half of which, Bob-J, is currently finishing up his degree in journalism at UNLV, to find out more about the project, as well as the Vegas scene and why it’s so hard to be a Hip-Hop artist there.

Adam Bernard: Let's start this off with a little bit of history. How did you two link up and when did you start creating music together?
Bob-J: We met unofficially in eighth grade. We actually had a class together and we were in the school band together, but we never really talked. He played sax and I played trumpet. Then we progressed into high school and again we were both in the school band and after class he would be jamming on the sax with the drummer and they would need a bass player to jam along with them and at that time I’d just picked up the bass, so I’d jam with them for half an hour after school and eventually that would turn into something bigger and bigger.

Adam Bernard: When did you put down the instruments and pick up microphones?
Jon D: We never really have done that. At this point I’m the only one that raps, but at our live shows there’s a lot of live stuff going on. We both play in the show. We’re a production team so all of our production has a lot of live instrumentation. It was kind of weird because there’s an interview we did a long long time ago, this was at the point where we were just completely instrumental, and the question was do I get offended when people ask me do I rap and I said to this guy “I’m holding a saxophone, does it look like I’m going to rap?” Fast-forward seven or eight years and here I am rappin, but at this point we’re still playing the instruments, we’ve never really put the instruments down.

Adam Bernard: Not much is known abut the Vegas Hip-Hop scene, in fact the only other group I know of from there is The Chapter. With that in mind, what’s it like trying to come up in a city where Hip-Hop is so sparse?
Bob-J: I think a lot of it has to do with a couple of years ago there was some kind of Hip-Hop concert out here and I guess someone got shot or stabbed or there was a fight and the local government actually tried to shut down Hip-Hop at larger venues. That happened when the local scene was getting a pretty good buzz and building up and they just shut everything down and said you know what, you can’t play Hip-Hop anymore.

Adam Bernard: Wait a minute, let me break this down. Prostitution - legal. Gambling - legal. Hip-Hop - that’s against the rules.
Bob-J: (laughs) The government discouraged any venue from holding Hip-Hop thinking there was going to be a fight, a shooting, a stabbing or something.

Adam Bernard: Yeah, because there’s ever been any violence at a strip club or a casino.
Jon D: We’re still dealing with that today. Even with our record coming out and we’re getting a lot of buzz, we’re still having a big issue even having a venue out here that will let us play a show. Even though we’re clean they hear “Hip-Hop” and it’s almost like talking trash about their moms. They’re turned off as soon as they hear “Hip-Hop.”

Adam Bernard: Talk to me about the album. Why will I like it?
Jon D: The internet is always buzzing with people being sick of what’s being put out right now, but in my opinion there’s a lot of good Hip-Hop being made, the issue is there’s not a lot of new guys making really good Hip-Hop. The guys that have been making really good Hip-Hop for years and years are still making really good Hip-Hop and there’s a very small amount of new guys making good Hip-Hop and actually having something to say and I think that something we represent is a new thing for Hip-Hop that gives you that same classic feel but doesn’t sound dated. I think if you’re looking for something that’s going to give you the feeling of what De La Soul made you feel like and what Tribe made you feel like without having to hear De La Soul and Tribe over again that’s something we represent.

Adam Bernard: How did you approach the creation of this album? Were there points you wanted to get across?
Bob-J: The interesting thing about that is that we had a whole lot of the album ready to go, maybe ten or twelve songs, and after listening back to it we realized you know what, this isn’t good enough, we want to do better. So we pretty much approached the album as improving upon ourselves and improving upon the genre and trying to bring forth something new. Not necessarily changing the game, but bringing listeners something different to listen to besides the deep underground stuff or the really mainstream radio stuff.

Adam Bernard: Finally, outside of Hip-Hop what’s important to you, and do those things ever work their way into your music?
Jon D: Me, personally, I’m a visual artist so I do graphic design and that kind of stuff and I’ve always found that they go hand in hand. A lot of the things that I like to do on the graphic side really come into play on the music side because 90% of the technical issues with the stuff we do in the studio are always technical issues that have a direct counter part in graphics stuff. Both of them kind of inspire each other for me.
Bob-J: I think family is also really important to both of us. I think that definitely goes into the music. There’s no cursing in the album. There’s no negativity. It’s easy for a family to listen to. You don’t have to worry about your kids listening to this. Nobody’s getting shot, there’s no violence.
Jon D: And you know the crazy thing about that is that most people, it takes them a good while to even realize that there’s no profanity in the album. They don’t even realize it until they’ve listened to it four times. It’s not something that we put out, we just let people come the realization like I enjoyed this album and I didn’t even realize that it’s not like all the other albums I normally enjoy that have all this negativity and violence and profanity and I still enjoyed it and I didn’t even recognize that it wasn’t there.

Related Links

MySpace: Myspace.com/somobe
Amazon: Somobe - The Great Communication

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