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Artist of the Day: Obongjayar

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Obongjayar isn’t exactly a psychedelic rock artist. In fact, it’s hard to pin any type of genre on him, but his music is profoundly experimental and interesting.

He’s a Nigerian artist based in London, and Obongjayar is his stage name (his real name is Steven Umoh). He grew up in Calabar, Nigeria, being raised by his grandmother and moving to the U.K. after his mother escaped from his abusive father. Obongjayar grew up listening primarily to bootleg rap in Africa, mainly American artists like Eminem, Snoop Dogg, and Nelly.

His music, though, has a genre-bending style, which could probably best be described as Afrobeat. Some have described it as Afro Psychedelia, too. Obongjayar often goes back and forth between rapping and spoken word, incorporating soul and electronic elements. The lyrics have spiritual overtones, but more in a New Age way.

Again, Obongjayar is definitely not psych rock, so why am I writing about him? Probably because he embodies the spirit of psych music: the transcendental, experimental approach and the same sort of the spiritual longing. His debut album, Some Nights I Dream of Doors, is a mystical and emotional record.

It’s worth a listen.

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