Bio: Art relies on duality. Creation happens between two extremes—light and dark, yin and yang, sad and happy, and so on and so forth. That brings us to Siimba Liives Long. Born in New York, raised in Ethiopia he’s just as familiar with the lions of the streets as he is with the lions of the jungle. His first “sonic series,” Zemenays Gemiinii, reflects a deep perspective fashioned by a life lived on opposite sides of the world.
“From an identity perspective, I’m very much African-American—in the literal sense of the term,” he declares. “Ethiopia and America are equally important to me. When you change your environment, you have to change your perspective. When you change your perspective, you’re forced to learn new things, adapt, and open your mind. My travels enabled me to not only open my mind, but my music as well.”
Siimba started rapping during grade school in Ethiopia. Inspired by the likes of everyone from Nas, 2 Pac, G Unit, The Fugees, DMX, and Outkast, he further honed his craft once back in the States at military school. He spent years silently carving out his style before officially emerging in 2015.
His introduction came with teeth—quite literally. After scraping together all the money he could, Siimba financed the production of a bi-continental music video for his debut single “Cocaine Bimbie.” Shot in South Africa, Brooklyn, and Ethiopia and starring locals and lions, it got the internet buzzing following its premiere on Noisey. Over jazz-y throwback production, he spits thought-provoking and energetic bars before a smooth, soulful refrain that will get you moving and thinking.
“I felt like I found myself as an artist, and this is the beginning,” he explains. “I wanted to come with a fully fleshed-out vision. The song is my announcement that I’m putting all my energy into music. I’m giving it my all.”
It also introduces Zemenays Gemiinii and gives a hint at what’s to come from Siimba.
“My mother’s name is Zemenay, and I am a Gemini,” he explains. “The Gemini is the twin sign, and there are two halves. I feel like I notice two sides to lots of things. I might rap about things other artists rap about but I’m not always glorifying it. It’s an accurate representation of the good and the bad. The whole project is based on true experiences.”
Seeing him live is the real experience. With kinetic and unforgettable presence, he “eats fire and tells stories.” Now, that fire is about to spread.
“My art is experienced on all levels,” he leaves off. “It’s not just sonic or visual. It’s everything. When you see me, I hope you feel that energy. That connection is the most important thing. I want to inspire people to be themselves and overcome fears. That’s my entire existence. I make the most of my time because time is the most valuable currency available. If you lose that shit, you’re not getting it back. I hope to share that.”
Watch his video on REVOLT the week of January 4th, 2015 at 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. ET! Let us know your thoughts on his video by tweeting@RevoltTV and using the hashtag #SpotlightOnRevolt