UB artist Kid Rah works to become well-rounded, shine light on artist community
It can be understood that everyone has a latent potential to create – it just has to be discovered and refined.
Osei Mbhaso, a senior communication majorwho goes by the artist name Kid Rah, shows the truth in this statement. Through creation and collaboration, Mbhaso looks to temper himself and inspire.
Coming to UB from Bellport, Long Island, the 21-year-old rapper and producer has taken his inspirations from home and meshed them with his collegiate experiences. Working to expand his skills, Mbhaso has experimented with music and visual arts, but has noted that, as with any craft, time has to be put in. From high school athlete to full-time creative, Mbhaso has been unlocking his talents through new experiences and collaborations; as well as creating a platform for other artists.
“You have to be 100 percent true to yourself – if you’re not 100 percent true to yourself, you won’t like your own music and the vibes will be off, as compared to the vibes that you carry in real life,” Mbhaso said. “You have to do that to make real genuine music, that’s just what I learned.”
Starting out as a high school athlete who broke the 110-meter intermediate hurdle record for his track & field team with 14.7 seconds, Mbhaso wasn’t always arts-focused.
Getting his feet wet, his mentor Darrell Johnson – a Bellport artist who goes by the artist name Freddy Laz – guided Mbhaso and he began to learn to create music at the age of 16.
Described as his town’s “Kanye,” Johnson first met Mbhaso in high school through a mutual friend.
“He had aspirations to do music and he was doing art as well, he was already into visual arts,” Johnson said. “He first sent me a track and I heard it, I said, ‘Oh, this is trash,’ but he was dedicated so I gave him some tips to improve his flow and lyricism.”
Johnson first taught him to keep on beat with a metronome when rapping – “an element of all music,” according to Johnson.
Johnson was there to help with the production of beats and helped with songwriting, noting the speed in which his artistry improved.
At the age of 18, Mbhaso released his first project titled Spectrum, which got favorable reception online.
It’s intro song, “Violet” received over 5,000 plays on SoundCloud and the title track “Spectrum” received over 3,000 plays.
Describing his sound as dark, he also finds inspiration in nostalgia, implementing elements from some of his favorite childhood memories; such as the anime shows he would pass the time watching.
“I like to play with darker concepts and darker aspects of life, to kind of flip them on their head and make them positive,” Mbhaso said. “I like to speak about the things that people run away from and make it something they can learn from.”
With legendary artists such as Rakim and De La Soul coming out of your town, there are some pretty big shoes to fill.
Like artists before him, it was through experiences that would give his music life, making them both relatable and personal.
Mbhaso cites coming to UB as being a mind-opening experience, putting him in contact with people from wholly different backgrounds.
“Coming to UB has slowed down my production rate, but … has matured my sound, in the sense that I’ve been able to be in the presence of artists and learn from them,” Mbhaso said. “I’ve been able to talk to different ethnicities of people and it’s expanded my worldview, it brings more depth to my sound, my material and content.”
While at UB, Mbhaso has collaborated with various artists, such as MovesLikeJonny, Produced By Jugo – who produced “Living Life” for Bobby Shmurda – and Don Heem.
Don Heem, whose real name is Donald Kelly, described first meeting Mbhaso and said he intuitively knew Mbhaso had a background in music.
“I met him a few years back, he looked like he was into music,” Kelly, a senior sociology major, said. “We started talking and then had a quick freestyle session and since then it’s been all about music.”
Since then, the two have worked together in producing the Midoriginal Showcase, an annual showcase held on campus, highlighting the talents of the UB student population. Mbhaso is also mixing and producing Kelly’s upcoming project, currently untitled, as well as giving creative input.
Mbhaso founded the showcase with Kelly working as the creative director.
“It’s an underground artists showcase, usually around 100 people attend it,” Mbhaso said. “It builds UB’s familiarity with the art community, that’s the purpose.”
Longtime friend and creative collaborator of Mbhaso, Naeem Rigaud, a senior media study major who goes by the artist name Pharaoh Rigaud, DJs and assists in the creative process for the show.
“We’ve both had a common interest in photography and taking dope photos when and wherever we found cool places in and around campus,” Rigaud said. “Early on we knew the importance of giving our creative input into the world. As much time as we spent together, we spent a lot of time identifying ourselves and understanding our true talents and nature.”
As a filmmaker, photographer and designer, the two connect on certain planes of creativity, but they understand it is in where they differ that offers the most significance in their creative interactions.
Mbhaso is currently working on his first proper project, Dark, with a release date to be announced. It is a project he is producing, mixing, mastering and recording entirely himself, calling it his “rite of passage as an artist.”
Although creating music since 16 years old, Mbhaso has been mixing and mastering for the past two years. Mixing the aforementioned project for Kelly and other student artists such as Da Da Suave and Blaq Kush.
Mbhaso looks to put the growth of himself into his upcoming project.
“Instead of talking about things that are typical or are expected of me to say, now I have more to add to it,” Mbhaso said. “For my next project, I’ll be able to relate to the street cat and relate to college cat, and mesh both worlds and act as a bridge for that.”
With the next Midoriginal showcase approaching next semester and finalizing his project, Mbhaso has a lot on his plate.
Utilizing experiences and collaborations embodies much of the collegiate experience for students, whether in a creative or academic setting. It’s a time of self-exploration and discovery, much like what Mbhaso has gone through.
“In the beginning you want to be like other artists, but over time you realize no one else can mimic you because that’s your true sound,” Mbhaso said.
Mbhaso looks to inspire and uplift with his music, hoping that listeners will be able to take and enjoy from it. For the love of the craft and the hope that others will also find their “true sound.”