PS The ReBels
Written by beachcityradio on February 9, 2021
we examine the global influence of contemporary African music, its intersections with hiphop, explore cultural differences growing up in America as a Continental African, and the message of their new music….. PS The Rebels coming through…..
It started with a fire. As SamuiLL’s world was literally going up in flames, he made a split-second decision that changed the direction of his – and his brother’s – life. “Everything is burning down and SamuiLL has the idea, ‘Let me run back in the house, grab the project and run back out with it,’” SamuiLL’s brother Pihon says with a chuckle today. “That project turned out to be our first project, The Great Migration.”
Released in 2015, The Great Migration was the debut LP from PS The ReBels, the duo of Pihon and SamuiLL. The terrific 14-track collection that recalls the sonic, lyrical, and political might of
revered rap groups X Clan and dead prez, and led to them opening up for and collaborating with
some of rap, reggae, and R&B’s biggest names, including Kendrick Lamar, Erykah Badu, Ziggy Marley, and Talib Kweli, as well as a 2018 appearance on The Jim Jefferies Show. “It set the tone,” says SamuiLL, whose moniker is a play off his middle name. “That hard drive was all I needed. It gave us that movement.”
Pihon and SamuiLL’s movement has been circuitous, to say the least. Born in Nairobi, Kenya, the two were pre-teens when they moved to the United States in order to escape social unrest in their homeland. Initially slated to move to England, they ended up in United States in 1996 and
have been here ever since.
It wasn’t an entirely smooth transition as their family settled into the Dallas-Forth Worth area, home of the largest Kenyan population in the United States, though. “It was our first time with xenophobia,” says SamuiLL. “Being called ‘African’ in a negative way and people talking down about our country, we were not familiar with that. It was like, ‘You’re from Africa. Ah, hell no.’” This treatment stood in stark contstast to their own upbringing in Kenya. As children, they had been exposed to some of rap’s early crossover stars, including MC Hammer and Vanilla Ice. But two other artists made Pihon and SamuiLL want to be musicians, the first being Snoop Dogg, the guest star of Dr. Dre’s landmark single “Nuthin’ But A ‘G’ Thang.” The video gave PS The ReBels a different look at life in urban America.
“We were used to seeing hip-hop flashy,” SamuiLL says. “Then in the video, you see this barbecue setting. Everybody’s just in the neighborhood. It’s regular, hair’s not done. It’s like, ‘Yo, this looks like us.’ It was the closest thing on TV that looked like genuine.”The other major influence was 2Pac, who instilled a lot of pride into PS The ReBels. 2Pac’smusic let the brothers know what was happening to black men in America. “He let me understand that this weird feeling I was getting, it’s called racism,” SamuiLL says. “Prejudice,oppression, all these different things were not in my lexicon at the time. 2Pac put that out therefor me.”
The group adopted the name PS The ReBels with a similarly thoughtful purpose. “PS the ReBelsis a play on our names Pihon and SamuiLL The ReBels, pulling from P.S. – postscript,” Pihon
explains. “We as ‘PS The ReBels’ are the embodiment and personification of the revolution’s
written letter and message to the rest of the world.”
As the duo started crafting their own music, they found inspiration in the work of Nigerian
musician Fela Kuti, who blended Western music with traditional African sounds and heritage
and politically fueled messages to create Afrobeat. They also had a crucial sounding board in
their mother, an award-winning designer who is fluent in several languages.
“She was like, ‘I really love this music. I really do,’” recalls Pihon, whose moniker is a mix of
the names of two African rivers. “She said, ‘But you know, what I think would be really dope is
if you guys started adding African beats and your culture.’ She really put this thing in our head.”
Within a few years, PS The ReBels started using some Swahili in their rhymes and became more
Afrocentric in their attire. After working on their own individual projects and material with other
artists, they two connected, formed PS The ReBels, built a name for themselves in the DallasFort Worth area, attracted the attention of revered rapper Pharoahe Monch, and released The
Great Migration in conjunction with his W.A.R. Media. The project’s warm reception made
Pihon and SamuiLL take stock of their creative progress.
“What we got was that we’re creating something new,” SamuiLL says. “We had our own sound,
which was dope. We thought it had an universal appeal, that it wouldn’t stay only in America.”
In addition to promoting their music, PS The ReBels also made headway via grassroots activism
and selling Dashikis and other items inspired by their heritage. They quickly realized that their
biggest market was Los Angeles, so they relocated to Southern California.
After setting up shop in their new home, and momentum began building. SamuiLL was
nominated for a Grammy for his work on Ziggy Marley’s “World Revolution” song in 2018. As
the Black Panther film became a cultural movement, the group in 2018 recorded “The Black
Panther (King T’challa),” an ode to the title character of the comic book and film that grossed
more than $1.3 billion domestically. They also collaborated with the film’s percussionist,
Magatte Sow, on the selection. In 2020, the group revamped the song and renamed it “Long Live
King T’challa,” and SamuiLL worked with Marley again, this time on the song “Jambo.”
In their new material, PS The ReBels pays homage to perseverance on the driving, percussiondriven “Bumaye.” The song and its stunning visual video salutes survivors of oppression and
champions people who hustle and grind to improve their circumstances. With the haunting “No
Idea,” Pihon and SamuiLL document their hard-working nature. It’s a striking testament to their
focus on achieving their goals. These songs are setting up the release of a new PS The ReBels LP
in 2021. With music being the main conduit, PS The ReBels have a significant and personal
“Our main focus is really rebranding Africa,” Pihon says. “We want to reimagine and present
Africa to the world sonically and via our art. Any opportunity that we have to do that, we want to
take that opportunity.”