Ohana Bam is one of the chosen few. The singularity became obvious as soon as he dropped his first singles. Before turning 20, Rolling Stone hailed the Chicago native as an “artist you need to know.” Complex described his debut video, “Sheriff,” as “the rare video that can spark an artist’s entire career.”
So it did. Before releasing an official project, Ohana Bam became something of a phenomenon. It’s no surprise if you’ve seen the video for “Sheriff,” where the former football star kicks frenetic raps alongside a 40-swigging, Mr. Steal Your Girl police officer in a fat suit.
Flashing the livewire energy of a young Busta Rhymes and the absurdist humor of early Kanye, Bam’s hook conveys an ultimate truth: there’s a new sheriff in town. He might hail from Chicago, but his songs have no geographical boundaries.
“I definitely see myself being from Chicago, but my sound isn’t Chicago. It isn’t confined by that box,” Bam says. “It’s a blend of different things - something else entirely. I’m just trying to be really creative and make people have fun again.”
Always a Straight A-student, Bam studied for a year at the University of Missouri before dropping out, returning home and getting a job. Music was the only constant. A six-month stint working at a car dealership allowed him to save enough money to move to LA.
Without any PR push, Bam’s initial gems won well-justified praise in blogs and magazines. They’ve built anticipation for his first fully formed record, Tree Up, set for an Oct. 23 release. Pigeons and Planes called the first single, “Oralgami”: “slickly produced and cleverly executed...well-timed to keep the party going as summer turns to fall.”
The project’s title comes from the name of Bam’s crew: “Ohana” - the Hawaiian term for family. Their emblem is the palm tree, symbolizing uniqueness and encouragement. To “tree up” is to go harder, to turn up a little higher. It’s evident on the tape, where Bam showcases a tremendous versatility that spans rap, pop, dancehall, rock, soul, and more. Before he’s old enough to legally walk into the club, Ohana Bam has already arrived.
“I want to be able to talk to the people and leave a positive impact. We don’t have to abide by anyone’s rules but our own,” Bam says. “I want to open people’s minds to life and push the envelope. This isn’t just music; it’s art to me.”