‘Full circle:’ Rap star Nobi returns home to Richland for performance as a thriving artist & social justice advocate

RICHLAND, Wash. — Never. Obey. Blind. Individuals. This is the message that rapper and Tri-Cities native Nobi lives by. His perspective as a biracial young man growing up in a predominantly white community was critical in his rise to becoming one of Eastern Washington’s most influential young talents.

“It just means, like, question everything,” Nobi said. “There [are] institutions and rules in place that aren’t necessarily made with you in mind, and we have the right to question those things and voice our concerns over those things.”

Before adopting the monicker Nobi in third grade, the 27-year-old was known as Marquise Green — a Hanford High School student who grew up in a family of musicians. When speaking with KAPP-KVEW’s Ellie Nakamoto-White, he described himself as one of a handful of Black students at the school, several of whom are his cousins.

“Growing up, it was very much like, just kind of tough for me to find like self-identity,” Nobi explained.

As he grew older and more experienced, Nobi found himself thinking deeper about some of the most pressing social issues plaguing society: racism, inequality, and injustice. He reflected on his experiences back in Richland while partaking in social justice protests in the Seattle protest zone during the summer of 2020, when the highly publicized murder of George Floyd led to civil unrest throughout the nation.

Nobi added to the discourse with the release of his first album, ‘Fulminate,’ which tackles institutionalized racism and the nation’s long-running history of oppressing Black people, among other minorities. The powerful messages behind his eloquent bars are supplemented by rap beats infused with jazzy tones, electronic elements, and a hint of Seattle’s coveted grunge.

This album was named one of Seattle’s 20 best albums of the year by critics from The Seattle Times. Nobi’s manager, Caleb Brown, noticed a shift in the quality of his music as the “poet and artist” became even more invested in his craft.

“As he got more serious, I just noticed he never wasted a line,” Brown said. “Nobi’s a voice of his generation. He’s just a pivotal figure.”

Nobi has grown in commercial notoriety since his first album’s release. Some of the top accomplishments of his career to date are performing as an opening act for iconic rapper Lil Wayne and being featured in a Seattle Seahawks documentary.

Through all of his success, one of the artist’s greatest achievements was his ability to sell out a show in his hometown of Richland four years ago. He’s set to perform, along with artists Moondrop, David July, and Peaceful Pinder, in a Tri-Cities return at the newly renovated Emerald of Siam on Saturday, Aug. 20.

“We might laugh a little bit. We might cry a little bit. We might mosh a little bit. It’s gonna be a hodgepodge of things,” Nobi said. “I’m excited to share it with everybody because it’s a Nobi that I don’t really feel like people, especially in Tri-Cities, have encountered before.”

General admission tickets begin at just $10 and can be purchased online by clicking here.

The show starts at 9 p.m. and goes until midnight.

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