Updated: Jul 7
Written by Teresa Donnellan
Photographed by Natasha Magino and Morgan Forde
The birth of KZMIBLZF
Kzmiblzf! Don’t say gesundheit. This is our new favorite duo coming out of Maryland, formed by Ahmed Kazmi and Obi Igbo. Kzmiblzf, pronounced /kaws-me-bloo-sef/, is a combination of both of their names: “kzmi” comes from Kazmi, and “blzf” comes from Obi’s nickname, Bluseph. The Vibe Room team met up with Obi and Ahmed at Songbyrd cafe to hear more about their work. Ahmed and Obi have a lot in common: both are first-generation Americans; both were born in Prince George’s County, Maryland and later moved to Montgomery County; and, both attended the same middle school. That’s where they met (they likely bonded over Lil' Wayne, algebra class, or Dave Chappelle) and a long-lasting friendship was born.
Kzmiblzf describe their sound as a “combination of analog and digital.” Their music features “a lot of natural and acoustic sounds like live drums, guitar, etc., while utilizing synthetic electronic production.” "We hope to be a nice blend of old and new, honoring the styles of music where artistic integrity, high-grade lyricism, and presentational performances were valued, but also celebrating today's carefree, ‘turn up,’ participatory climate of music.” said Obi.
They bring their similarities to their music, but they would never sacrifice their individuality. Their duo’s name signifies unity while they maintain their own identities. “We really do go half on just about everything artistically,” said Obi, “so we wanted the name to showcase that ‘half-ness,’ if that makes sense.”The pair explained that their sound has elements of electronic dance music alongside the percussive and rhythmic roots of Hip-Hop.
Are We Here?
Their single, “Are We Here?”, which came out on September 14th, 2017, evokes a coming of age feeling of trying to find your identity-you know it will happen but you're not quite there yet. “That song was actually almost created by accident,” Obi said. “Ahmed was attempting to produce an instrumental on his own time and was not producing the sound that he wanted. … [He decided to take a break and produce something more natural to him as practice and then return to his initial goal. He ended up liking what he heard and recorded some parts of the chorus that you hear now as somewhat of a joke; and, he sent it to me. I heard way past the joke.” Shortly afterward, they met up to create the song.
“The song embodies and explores the feelings of the everyday artist and their plight of finding the balance between unflappable confidence and crippling self-doubt through the means of constant creation,” Ahmed said. “Before we made this track, we were unfortunately fresh into the crippling self-doubt stage,” Obi joked. “But, through creation, we began to realize and remember our potential, and we started contemplating our importance and asserting ourselves.”
“We want people to walk away feeling like they are untouchable,” Ahmed said. “There is no path set up in this world for an artist like there is for most other ways to live, so we just want people to keep going as a creative and feel like nothing should be able to stop you from doing that.”
What’s next for the duo? Kzmiblzf’s next releases will be “Time & Time” and/or “Peace of Mind. Piece of Mine.” After they release their recorded singles, they plan to record a number of live showcases in which Obi plays drums and raps and Ahmed plays the guitar and sings. The two will be backed by their friends, other local creatives. “We also want to just start performing live with friends more in general,” Obi said. “That's a touching immediate goal. Other than that, we're all over the place.” Follow Kzmiblzf on @kzmiblzf on all platforms.