Haviah MIghty is wary of dark energies on her new song “Obeah”.
The 2019 Polaris Prize winner is one of the most exciting voices in hip-hop today, equally comfortable with windows-down bangers and mind-bending conscious raps. With “Obeah”, she’s found a new twist on an old standard, channeling her Jamaican heritage to find an original slant on the “Watch who you surround yourself with,” song. The concept of Obeah doesn’t translate easily to outsiders, but it’s generally understood to involve a kind of magic or supernatural energy. As Mighty explained in a statement,
“I’ve navigated life off the strength of my parents’ teachings, and one of those notable teachings is to be mindful of the company you keep and of those you call your friends. Being of Caribbean descent, I’ve heard many stories throughout my life of ‘Obeah man’ and ‘Obeah woman’ from family and friends, ‘Obeah’ being an occult power and celebrated secret religion that disturbs the natural flow of events by way of spells, spirituality and hidden practices.
“Though difficult to define, it is a religion of resistance, a belief that you can manipulate yours or other peoples’ destinies – often used in the context of those people that are close to you but aspire to cause harm to you by thought or action. This song, using this Jamaican reference, speaks directly to the idea that the energy around you can bring you down, and that sometimes it’s those that are closest to you that you need to be aware of. This theme is one many can relate to as they grow within their chosen realms.”
Over a dark, thumping beat, Mighty spits out lyrical dangers with an intensity that teeters on the edge of paranoia. She approaches the hook with a Jamaican patois, rapping, “Watch dem friend deh/ Watch who you keep close ya/ Your glow up they phobia/ Some might come with Obeah.”
The track comes with a music video directed by Jesse Dart. It starts with her real-life father, here credited as Mr. Mighty, warning her about “bad, negative energy,” and giving her an amulet of protection. But the rapper foolishly sets it aside, opening herself up to dark machinations. Check out “Obeah” below.