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by naya clark

Originally from Alabama, OMB Peezy moved all over the country, making a stop in California before settling in Atlanta. Those travels have had an outsized influence on his music, including the recent singles “Mufasa,” “Mission” and “650.” His confident cadence works in tandem with energetic rhythm and dynamic music videos. This unique expression also radiates through his tattoos which are a personal collection of distinct memories in his life.

The city of Peezy’s birth, Mobile, Alabama, is an underdog town with limited resources. As he started to build his career, those roots encouraged him to do something different from the norm. “I come from a small city where a lot of people like to follow trends and do what they think rappers are doing,” he explains. “We ain’t got the resources or the outlets and the platform to get our music out there. That’s really the difference between [Alabama and] Atlanta.”

Moving to California at the age of 12 changed his perspective and helped him develop the beginnings of his fan base. Moving around a lot opened his eyes to different ways of approaching life. “You have to see how big the world is. I feel like that’s what helped me,” Peezy says. “The world is big and everybody does [things] in different ways. You learn more. You might leave Mobile and find your whole style that you were missing and that was the last piece to the only thing you were missing.”

It wasn’t just the cross-country travel that left a mark on Peezy’s music, it was also the daily rides in the car with his mom on the way to school. She’d listen to a diverse lineup of tunes including Coldplay, Green Day, Adele and Lewis Capaldi, and the music worked its way into his soul. Additionally, freestyling with friends as a youngin living in California and learning how to rap on West Coast beats set the tone for the musician he became. “I ain’t never heard beats like that in my life,” he says with a laugh.

Photos by Dylan Schattman

Photos by Dylan Schattman

These elements leveraged Peezy’s flow and the tracks he raps over, attracting new listeners from Alabama, California and beyond. “Everyone wanted to hear me rap because I was different and I ain’t sound like nobody.” Peezy says. He also attributes his sound to his mother, who he says has a “little voice,” and to his father’s country accent. As a tribute to their influence on him he has both of their names tattooed, along with ink of his grandmother’s house, on his stomach—his favorite tattoo.

Much like how Peezy incorporates various styles in his music, he isn’t particular about the styles of his tattoos, as long as they look good. He doesn’t show favoritism to specific artists and will stop by any shop for whatever piece he’s looking to get next. “I’ll find a tattoo artist in Alaska if I have to,” he says.

Recently, he received a statement piece bound to catch attention. The tattoo depicts a Klansman hanging from a noose, another influence of his birth city, where racism has a strong history. “Growing up, my grandmama would always tell my mother stories about [the lynchings in Alabama],” he recalls.

Once Peezy started getting inked there was no stopping him. Now he has so much ink he lost count of the number. Since each piece is connected to another, he likes to think of them all as one cohesive piece. That said, there’s one particular piece that commemorates when his career took off: He has a whole verse from the song that jump-started his recognition in the rap game, “Lay Down.”

Peezy’s most impulsive piece is the word “Overkill” on his neck. Overkill refers to the name of his label as well as a nickname he acquired. “I do a little too much sometimes,” he explains with a laugh. “I put a little extra on stuff.” His affinity for doing the most comes across through his music, with its high energy and contentious lyrics.

While the selection and origins of his tattoos may range from intense to childhood nostalgia, there’s no doubt that OMB Peezy is unapologetically himself. He tells this to all of his listeners, especially those from places similar to Mobile, Alabama, where the avenues for artists are limited: “Just be yourself, man,” Peezy says. “People can tell when you’re really being you, and that’s what brings people in and makes them want to learn more about you. I feel like it’s just best to be yourself and find the best way to show people who you are deep down inside.”