In this week’s Culture Report, I have a brief chat with Tate Kobang, the Baltimore rapper and producer who earned a Grammy last week when Beyoncé took home Best Dance/Electronic Album for 2022′s “Renaissance.”
Listed as a songwriter and composer on the album’s single “Virgo’s Groove,” Kobang found out about the win as he was scrolling through Twitter in an Atlanta club enjoying hookah and music. Even after a week, he’s still processing what it means to have reached a milestone most artists can only dream about.
In our conversation, the artist — who recently signed to Nicki Minaj’s new record label — talked about the process of creating the song’s parallels to Baltimore club and what’s next for him.
Beyoncé won for Best Dance/Electronic music, which I find interesting because with you being from Baltimore, you were already predisposed to electronic music through club. And a lot of your early work engaged with club music.
It’s crazy because I always say it’s a lot of old club records that we can flip and try to turn it into real music. That [club] drum pattern is similar to the drum breakdown that we do in church during the praise time. It’s a frequency.
Where specifically do you sense any connections to Baltimore club on “Renaissance”?
Really that whole album. From the melodies to the breakbeat to the song ideas, it all really felt like Blaqstarr. It’s house music and club music. It felt like home.
How did you get involved with “Virgo’s Groove”? Did you make the reference track?
Yeah it’s crazy, because what you hear is not what the original song sounded like. Before that, the beat felt like DaBaby’s “Suge.” Me and [songwriter] Jozzy wrote [the track] like three to four years ago in L.A., and that’s how long it took for it to come back. ’Cause Beyoncé, she was doing other things — touring, etc. Then out of nowhere, it comes. I didn’t hear the song like this until it came out.
So did you know the track would make the album?
We knew for sure that we had it. And [Beyoncé's people] tried to clear it like a year and some change ago. Then she changed her mind about how the music was gonna sound.
How does it feel for your first Grammy to be in a genre that encompasses your hometown sound?
Catching records that’s in the vein of what you came up on, that shit make you proud of your upbringing. Dukeyman is my cousin, I grew up on club. The fact that this is my native language and I get an accolade? Now I’m trying to get Nicki [Minaj] on one.