The first time I heard about Bobby Combz was in 2011. This was about the time relatively unknown rappers, PayBac and Random teamed up to drop a song which was way ahead of its time, Gidi Lights.
On that song, PayBac (who has now become a household name in the Nigerian hip-hop scene) and Random (who has since ventured into media and marketing) made references to their clique, St. Oz Gang. That song also featured background vocals by Mis and Barzini produced the song.
Like myself, PayBac, Random, and Barzini were all undergraduates at the University of Nigeria and were being managed at the time by a friend and course-mate of mine, Chuka Okeke. Wondering what St. Oz Gang was all about after listening to Gidi Lights, I met up with Chuka and made some inquiries.
It was then I found out that St. Oz Gang comprised of like minds who were all about making good music. PayBac, Barzini, Ohdes, Kid Marley, Random and of course music producer, Bobby Combz were all part of this clique. They all went on to help build a vibrant music scene and culture on a campus that had previously produced hip-hop heavyweights like Six Foot Plus and IllBliss.
I watched Bobby Combz from a distance as he went about his business quietly. Everyone who ever spoke to me about him made it clear that the boy could really make some dope beats. A certain Zimbocrix seemed to be the go-to music producer on campus for singers at the time. However, young Bobby was lurking around the corner and producing heavy hip-hop beats for anyone who thought they could rap.
In 2014, Yung6ix released a song titled ‘Amen’. It sounded different from everything else we have had from the Delta-born rapper. Checking out the track on TooXclusive then, I remember being so surprised to find out that Bobby Combz was the one who produced it.
“I met Yung6ix through a mutual friend Chuka Okeke and we kept in touch,” Bobby Combz recalls how he linked up with the self-acclaimed King Of The South.
For most Nigerians of his generation, delving into music was met with strong resistance from their parents. For Bobby Combz, his journey was quite different. “My dad bought me a Fruity Loops CD when I was 15 and well, a year later I got hooked on it. It became an addiction,” he explained.
For someone who has never restricted himself to a certain genre of music, it makes sense that his musical influences are from a wide array of genres. Sade Adu, Kanye West, Timbaland, Bob Marley, and Craig David are some of those whose music and ideologies have inspired Bobby Combz.
Though he started out as a music producer, Bobby Combz is also an artiste, songwriter, sound engineer, and entrepreneur. Bobby explains that if he was to choose just one thing from all he does, it will be music production. “l lowkey hate my voice but people love it,” he explained in between giggles.
Sharing a life-changing moment with me, he recounted what gave him the impetus to go into music-production full time. “I posted a random beat online and asked for the highest bidder…(he laughs). I got paid a couple of dollars. Trust me, that was a motivation.“
Years after, Bobby Combz still can’t choose between music production software; FL Studio, and Logic Pro X. “That’s the hardest decision ever! I love the two the same way,” he tells me like a proud polygamist who loves both wives equally.
Majek Fashek, Sade Adu and Nneka Egbuna are some of the musicians he really can’t wait to work with. In 2018, Bobby Combz relocated from Nigeria to South Africa.
When I asked him what prompted that decision, his response was straightforward, simple and honest: “I relocated here to explore my potentials. I just needed some me-time I guess. Life is amazing here I must say. I love the atmosphere here. Never had so much mental freedom than now.”
“The industry here (South Africa) has a proper structure than that in Nigeria, I won’t lie. But hopefully we will get there,” he proclaimed.
When I tried to get his thoughts on the rift between the African giant, Burna Boy and South African rapper, AKA, Bobby Combz had yet another simple response – “They both will be alright. I’ll let adults handle their business.”
In July, he put out a song, The Blind which features South African vocalist, Terry-Leigh. “Honestly, a bottle of Hennessy and the universe” was his response when I quizzed him on what inspired the song.
For one who said he regrets hiding in the studio and not putting himself out there all this time, it is understandable why he released his debut project, Combz Recipe in October 2019.
With Combz recipe – a five-track Ep, Bobby hopes to show the world that “Art has no limits and can be done your own way”. According to him, “there’s no such thing as perfect art”.
Talking more about putting himself out there, Bobby Combz is looking to put out some visuals which we show the world some of the many things he can do.