It’s easy to get lost in the booming, punchy sound that ripples through the sample-based productions in SOB x RBE’s musical catalog. The Vallejo-bred collective’s sound salutes the Oakland-birthed “hyphy” movement — popularized by Mac Dre, then E-40 — all while unloading their boisterous rhymes over a throbbing bassline, neon synths, and frenetic drums, all of which have become the west coast outfit’s trademark sound.
Their distinct style is likely the main reason Kendrick Lamar and Anthony Tiffith tapped the four-member rap group (comprised of Slimmy B, DaBoii, Yhung T.O and Lul G) to be a part of Black Panther: The Album on the soundtrack’s standout cut “Paramedic.” The thumping, burst of energy that is “Paramedic” — presumably created with Black Panther’s antagonist, Killmonger (played by Michael B. Jordan), in mind — opens with an introduction from Kendrick Lamar before each member of SOB x RBE gets their moment of shine to showcase their talent.
“One of Kendrick’s partners hit me in my DM on Twitter and I hit my manager Stretch to see if it was real because I couldn’t believe it,” Slimmy B tells Billboard. “Kendrick ended up flying us all out there and we didn’t know it was for the Black Panther album until we got there. He had the beat and the first three bars already and told us we can do whatever we wanted to do, so we went in there and did just that.”
Born and raised in Vallejo, California, Slimmy B, DaBoii, Lul G, and Yhung T.O were two separate groups before they joined forces in 2015; Yhung T.O and DaBoii were already creating music as Real Boi Entertainment before they met Slimmy B and Lul G to form Strictly Only Brothers x Real Boi Entertainment. Each member remembers being introduced to music through a family member and over time, developed their style by listening to old-school classics and the hyphy godfather himself, Mac Dre.
“We really wanted to basically blend old-school music that people love, you know the classics, but bring it back and redo it in our own way,” T.O says. Adds Slimmy B: “We bring a whole different type of energy to the table — high-ass energy with real lyrics that you can tap into.”
And for SOB’s upcoming debut album Gangin, preceded by singles “Carpoolin” and “Anti-Social,” the quartet says the energy remains the same — though this time, they’re catering to “all types of ears” to bring a plethora of vibes to the table, including a few love songs. On “Stuck Up,” there’s an airy, slow-burning melody driving behind T.O as he sings to a conceited female that has caught his attention. But on “Y.H.U.N.G,” T.O trades in his hard-hitting flow for a more melodic sing-song with his voice doused in a soft auto-tune as he croons, “And I still make time ’cause I know they don’t make ’em like mine/ Girl, I got a lot of money I’m fine/ I can take care of you when you’re mine.”
Up next on the group’s itinerary is their own headlining tour with Dallas-based rapper Cuban Doll, before they embark upon a nationwide trek with Post Malone and 21 Savage in April.
As they continue to gain traction — as a group or in their own solo endeavors — the guys make it a point to support each other and keep their brotherhood strong. “We’re not a ‘put-together’ type of group, we’re brothers,” T.O offers. “Even with us doing our own shit as solo artists, it’s not like anyone gets in their feelings when someone pursues their own career because, at the end of the day, it’s for the betterment of themselves and the whole gang.”
“We’re blood brothers,” DaBoii says, with Slimmy B adding, “We’re real brothers and [the bond] will never break.”
Stream SOB x RBE’s debut album below.