Watkins, who has three brothers and four sisters, was born in Chicago on July 26, 1975. His interest in music was sparked at around age three when he first saw his father playing drums at a local Apostolic Overcoming Holy Church of God. Prior to devoting himself to religion, Alious C. Watkins Jr.
had played trap drums and other percussion instruments with the Pharaohs, a now-legendary jazz-funk group in which Earth, Wind & Fire leader Maurice White had been the original drummer, and he also backed the Dells on local engagements. His dad’s drumming led Kobie and his brothers to bang on pots and pans around the house. Kobie took up trumpet in fourth grade, played it in the jazz band while attending Orr High School, and later used it in his work as an elementary school music teacher in Joliet, Illinois, where he also played oboe, flute, clarinet, trombone, tuba, and French horn in order to demonstrate them to his fourth- and fifth-grade students.