Cam O’bi Produced For Chance, SZA & Kendrick & Now He’s Flying Solo (Audio)

Chicago has never lost its position as one of the country’s biggest exporters of Hip-Hop talent, but its influence isn’t limited to global superstars like Common, Kanye West and Chance The Rapper. In the last few years, Chi-town artists like Mick Jenkins, Noname, Jamila Woods, Saba, theMIND, Fredo Santana and many others became emergent faces of Chicago’s current Rap scene. Among the burgeoning class is Cam O’bi, a producer, originally from Las Vegas, who in many ways has already arrived. The Grammy winner – born Cameron Osteen – produced SZA’s Kendrick Lamar collaboration, “Doves In The Wind,” for her Grammy-nominated album CTRL. He earned his own Grammy for his work on Coloring Book, but Heads may know him from his early days with J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League and the fingerprints he left all over Chance’s Acid Rap. Today (January 22), he announced his solo debut and its lead single, the Smino-led “TenderHeaded.”

As reported by NPR, Grown Ass Kid will arrive this year. “TenderHeaded” is punctuated by the sounds of his real-life nephew laughing and sped-up vocals of his own. He says the inspiration for the record came to him while he was in an unusual place. “I remember standing there in the shower, staring at the dead hairs on my comb, deep in thought trying to understand why it hurts so bad to comb my hair. I thought about how the pain I feel when combing my hair is associated with the separation of my dead hairs from my new growth, because nappy hair ain’t nothing but a bunch of dead hair and new growth clinging to one another in an entangled bush,” he told NPR’s Jenny Gathright.

Mick Jenkins, Jesse Boykins III & Noname Help Illustrate theMIND (Video)

He continues, “To me, innocence is uninhibited expression. In order to function in society, we all learn to practice restraint of that expression – which renders us emotionally crippled, imagination-deprived adults. ‘TenderHeaded’ is about the pain which I felt in my own childhood at those specific moments when life ‘ran its comb’ through my innocence.”

Now that he’s put in years of work behind the boards with everyone from Isaiah Rashad to TWENTY88, O’bi is stepping into the forefront. Smino, the St. Louis MC whose 2017 breakout album blkswn showcased his soulful sensibilities and cheeky wordplay, is a fitting collaborator for Cam’s debut single. Together, the two deliver a playful, vibrant song peppered with memories of quarter water, school lunch tables and hot combs.

No release date has been announced for Grown Ass Kid.