“I’m a rookie who sounds like I’ve been in the game for a long time; it’s just the quality of the music I’m making,” declares 17-year-old rapper Chibi. The Dallas, Texas native of Nigerian heritage used his 2020 to make a powerful introduction. His Fresh Ayr-produced Pain-Tence mixtape yielded the “Life Is Short” music video as well as melodic-yet-personal tracks like “Two Face” and “Easy To Die”—all achieving strong six figures at streaming. Currently wrapping up his debut EP, Chibi is all-in on music. “My life switched in one year. I remember when my mama was struggling to pay her rent. Seeing where I’m at now, I don’t want us ever to go back.”
Chibi translates to “heaven-sent,” . The idea of divinity is something the streetwise rapper carries with him. “I truly feel that I am heaven-sent. Through all of the predicaments that I’ve been in, I always had God with me; He guided me a lot,” shares the rapper. Chibi Okapara and his older brother grew up in North Dallas’ Josey Lane Apartments. “It was not a good place It was Section 8 Housing . There was not much in the way of resources. It was tough on my mama on my dad; it broke them apart.” When Chibi was 12, his father left the family and returned to Africa. Two years later, he died, right as Chibi was becoming a man. “Things happened to me early,” he admits. “I had to focus on growing up. I had to grind and challenge myself; I know that my dad would not want me to feel sad. I pushed myself to become a better person and provide for my mama. Music was one of the things that helped me cope.”
Music was big in Chibi’s apartment. He was raised on Bob Marley, Tupac, and Lil Wayne. “Whenever I had time, I wrote music,” he says. Songwriting took precedence after a hip-replacement Crushed the star athlete’s Dreams for soccer and basketball. Starting freshman year, Chibi began using makeshift studios to record his tracks. Although the sound quality was less than ideal, his early songs caught on fast. “I put snippets on my Instagram, and people were going crazy. I just wanted to succeed and make my mama proud. I knew we were poor—I seen it. So what can I do to provide? Music became something that I realized I was good at.”
While 2020’s pandemic sat Chibi down, the artist who goes by “YGB—Young Gutta Baby” used that time to sharpen his skills. He applied the rhythms of his heritage to his music, involved more of his singing voice, and worked on cadences—having studied Wayne, Andre 3000, and Eminem. “I became a better artist, and life goes with it.” “Two Face” finds Chibi’s voice booming over soft guitars as he sings and raps about betrayal. “Life is Short,” Chibi’s biggest music video to date, reflects on tragedy. “Those were pain melodies,” he says. In 2020, Chibi’s mentor and uncle stepped in to keep the talent away from pitfalls and on a positive path. “My uncle saw the potential and the hunger in me,” Chibi says. “He changed my life for the better.” Pain-Tence, the eight-song 2020 DIY project, reflects its title. Produced by Fresh Ayr, who has made songs with Eminem and Meek Mill, the release garnered over 1,000,000 streams across platforms.
Beginning with reflective single “Street Dreams,” Chibi’s 2021 promises to kick open new doors to the industry. March’s video single “Big Dawg” shows a confident star in the making, while its upcoming follow-up, “2 Many Times,” reveals the massive growth in Chibi’s delivery with his incredible ear for beats going new places. “I feel like every song I do should stand out,” shares the artist who blends wisdom in his writing with a youthful, energetic delivery. “Whenever I reach a ceiling, I try new things to break it.” From out of the gutter, Chibi is taking his career to glory.