“Obeah,” the most recent single from 2019’s Polaris prize winner Haviah Mighty, cautions against people who tactfully damage your aura when you least expect it. Unfortunately, such was the case for the Toronto rapper after she won the Polaris (Mighty detailed in a tweet the ostracism she experienced after her album 13th Floor won). A few days after being burned, she wrote “Obeah,” where she raps about how one’s energy impacts one’s reality; bad things come from surrounding yourself with people unwilling to protect you, even intentionally harming that energy. Over a sinister melody and aggressive drum hits, Mighty’s flow is slick and her tone wary. “Watch who you keep close, ya / Your glow up their phobia.”
The song’s title “Obeah” comes from Mighty’s Caribbean background, influenced by her parents’ teachings, parables about the company one keeps. “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,” she said in a statement.
“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.”
She practices what she preaches, featuring those from her trusted inner circle on the song—her father makes an appearance in the video, while her younger brother Mighty Prynce produced the track. The visual shows Mighty being warned by her father about bad energy before hanging out among untrusting company. Watch below—and brace for the twist!