And then there are those who do more than just stand by and watch; absorb the world around them, filter it through multi- coloured lenses. Repackaged for the masses, under the buzz line you WILL listen. In the words of Gil Scott Heron ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’, the revolution will come to you via your android phone, all seeing eye iPads and what ever futuristic medium we decide to hold on high. My aural revolution was brought to me by Osunlade, location Suncebeat 5, Barbarellas at 6am in the morning. Such were the blows of the lyrics of OVEOUS’s Ipoem, that the masses fell silent, apart from the occasional screams of delight, as we stood trying to get to grips with reality through a haze of hedonism. Profound!
In recent years we have mourned the passing of conscious street commentators / poets such as Gil Scott Heron, Maya Angelou, who will take on the baton and carry the message forward to a new generation? There is one man, OVEOUS that we could take to our hearts and minds to new places; who has the ability to combine exceptional poetry, collaborate with Grammy award winning musician Roy Ayers, renowned producers Louie Vega, Osunlade and Atjazz, while still delivering the message.
Join me as I interview OVEOUS.
O – Offering social consciousness, an alternative to the main stream
V – Victorious open your eyes will win against oppression
E – Eloquence, words delivered skilfully with accurate precision
O – Omnipotence, the power to overcome
U – Unify, one nation under a groove
S – Social Commentary, life reflected, complacency rejected, people stay connected.
How did your experience growing up in New York (and then Miami) form your views of the world?
New York is an amazing city. There’s a reason why we call it the Empire State, Empire city, and its because so much creativity and culture stems from here. Naturally, when you grow up here (for me it was from Uptown Washington Heights to the Bronx), you get inspired by every single thing you see and hear on a day to day basis. And living in New York, you get to see and hear a lot. We have five boroughs filled with people from all over the globe. So it truly is a melting pot and you can almost say a “preparatory school” for exploring the rest of the world. As far as Miami goes, I did live there for almost 4 years back in the late 80’s as a kid. It was a fun time. I learned a lot there about loyalty, friendship, and the importance of family. It was just Me, my mother and my brother at the time. The rest of my family stayed back in NY. Miami is a special place to me cuz that’s where I fell in love with video games and also BMX freestyle biking. The sun was always out and inviting us to go out and be active. Miami is also the reason I went from being a fat kid to being in shape. LOL. Yo, its true tho, I was a chubby one man, till biking and basketball took over in Miami. But anyway, yea, NY was my world view tutor.
You and your little brother Carlos Paul were raised by your hard working single mother. When you reflect on life back then, what is the most valued lessons that you take with you through life?
Never, ever, take any of the small blessings you have in front of you for granted. Ever. I kid you not when I say this, but there were times where we didn’t know how we were gonna eat or pay the rent. But Moms always fought hard, hustled hard, and somehow always came thru 4th quarter in the paint. I will forever L’Ove her for that. Her loyalty to us was Priceless.
New York city is renowned for it’s kaleidoscope of musical influences. What music where you listening to that got your creative juices flowing? What first attracted you to those artists?
I love these types of memory lane questions because they always challenge me to go back deeper into the early influences that pulled me in to the music world. As far as I can remember, the first cassette tape “album” I ever bought was that of LL Cool J. And unfortunately I bought it a bodega not knowing what a bootleg was. I was just too young to know what that was. LOL. Rakim, Fat Boys, Big Daddy Kane, Heavy D, Gangstarr, and NWA were some of the first artists that caught my ear. And I really liked their music a lot. But I gotta be honest and say that although Hip Hop will always be my heart, House music was my first true musical L’Ove. I say this because I remember the first time I heard Crystal Water’s “Gypsy Woman”. That beat, classic piano and vocals was just something that hit my soul like nothing else had before. I mean, I was seriously hypnotized by this sound. A few weeks later I went to a club in New York called Vinyl and another in Boston called “The Loft” who had a friend of mine playing there by the name of Armand Van Helden (now one of two guys in Duck Sauce, shout out to him and A-Trak). So yea, I fell in L’Ove with them beats man. It was just too beautiful to ignore all of the great records that were coming out at that time. So for me as a fan of guys like Masters at Work’s Little Louie Vega, Yoruba’s OsunLade and Atjazz, and to now be working as a producer and vocal collaborator with these guys is an incredible feeling.
If you could be any computer game character who would you be and which game most reflects your character or life experience?
EASY!… MEGA MAN ALL DAY, EVERYDAY. Lol.. I’m going with Mega Man because I can really relate to this dude. Mega Man is an android designed by scientist Dr. Light to simply be a lab assistant. But when the world gets threatened by evil forces, Mega Man steps up as a battle robot instead. Attached to his right arm he has a cannon called the “Mega Buster” that changes and adapts according to his enemies and the environment. I can relate to this cuz In my personal life I’ve had to change and adapt many a times in order to survive. It’s crazy to think that a Japanese video game can be that Deep, but it really is! lol. Shout out to Capcom Yo!
Both you and your brother shared a passion for writing lyrics, Carlos Paul aka Ziiinc Blue originally showed great promise as a lyricist. In 2002 tragically Carlos Paul made the decision to take his own life, after battling with depression. Having experienced such personal trauma, you took the brave and courageous step to deliver your own tribute to Carlos – Ziiinc Blue. For the first time you performed your work in front of an eagerly awaiting crowd at the Nuyorican Poets Café. Can you describe the build up to this performance? How did you harness the essence of spirit to take you through this emotional & transitional stage?
This is actually really deep man. Honestly, I’ve never even discussed this with my parents or even family in detail. But around that time (October 6, 2002) after learning about my brother’s suicide, I became completely cold, removed, and emotionless from everyone. At the same time, I was also hit with a divine energy of inspiration and became very focused as I began to write what would be my (tho I had no idea at the time) first internationally recognized piece of lyrics. It was all just coming at me at once. Lyrics pouring out of me. Ideas flooding my brain constantly. To the point that I got fired from the ONLY job I ever had out of college. lol. (Best thing that ever happened tho). So on some real ish, best way I can explain it is that I wasn’t really in control. I just do what I always do. I write when the writing comes to me. It comes to me and I just document the messages that were sent to my head. As far as the first time I performed at the Nuyorican Cafe… Man, that was CRAZY ELECTRIFYING!!!! Literally, it felt like I had been shocked with goose bumps for 15 min straight. During that time I used to write poems and raps on the subway train all the time. On that particular night, I took the train to Nuyorican, arrived just in time for their open mic on a Friday night after their slam battle, and I read one of my first pieces ever written. “For The New Yorker” a rap/poem hybrid about living in the concrete jungle. It was crazy. I got a standing ovation my first time on a stage. Its been a blessing and a fun ride as an Artist since. *THANK YOU NUYORICAN! I love ya’ll! Oh and you too LouderArts 😉
Where do you gather the impression for your songs and poems?
I think I answered this question earlier in brief, but to go into further detail, I believe that to be a great Artist you have to illustrate the human experience from a new perspective. One that inspires generations. One that pushes the boundaries of what we thought we already knew about ourselves. And Our lives. You have to be open to the possibilities of expression and the exploration of new terrain. No matter what your medium is as an Artist, you should always try to find the hidden treasures of expression. You have to find what hasn’t been seen or spoken about or at least a new path to a familiar road. It isn’t easy to do, but the ones who are blessed with this unique vision, stay in your mind forever.
In the past you have worked with a whole host of respectable musicians and producers, including Roy Ayers, Osunlade to name but a few. At what stage did you start to put your lyrics to music?
I would have to say that it pretty much started in 2007 when I performed the acapella of Mirror Dance at WMC in Miami at a dance battle. Some buzz went around about how people were moved by that piece. A few months later I met Osunlade and Quetzal Querrero aka QVLN at SOB’s in NY after a show. We all bonded, became family instantly and next thing you know I’m in the studio with my engineer/producer and good friend Dave D Sol Rivera recording the official “Mirror Dance” tune. At the same time!… My good friends Anane and Louie Vega had seen my performance at the Apollo theater on TV and they asked me to join them on their next “Elements Of Life” LP which is out now on Fania Records. Whats really ILL, is that I’m on a record with one of my favorite artists’ growing up… the great URSULA RUCKER! Man, I can’t believe I can actually say that. So humbled.
Recently you did a few DJ sets in Greece and also at the Ace Hotel in London, how does Djing compare with your poetry stand up? Do you have a preference? Or is it a case of having more creative freedom?
I L’OVE doing both! So now that the word is getting around the world that I can do both, its been really opening a lot of doors for me. It’s really the best of both worlds for me. I get to party, play music, perform, and expose people to poetry and beats in a setting that normally wouldn’t expose it! It really is great. This is a very exciting time for me as an Artist. I’m producing records and playing them. I’m rapping. I’m doing stand up poetry. I even landed an acting role in a film that we’re shooting right now! lol. I’m the type of Artist who loves to explore and push my limits. I love to conquer the fear and take on the challenges ahead of me. By the time you publish this, it will be no secret that my new album is coming out on my own label (Moca Arts Music). It is a very soulful hip hop album titled “Passion In Veins” and dare I say, people are calling it a future classic (their words, not mine I swear). It is my best work to date. This album is truly about the PASSION it takes to survive in your life. Lyrically it really pushes the envelope in that It has a ton of positive and messages you can relate too, without being preachy and yet it’s still very poetic and prolific. I’m really proud of my learning and evolution process as I get older and more into Music. I’m also very proud of the album cover. As I believe it is one of the most original album covers ever conceived. Or one of the coolest and most raw. I say this because to achieve the artwork, I literally had to BLEED for this album. Yep, I cut myself several times, drew blood, and began to paint the cover art with my own blood. I have to give credit to my friends at creative agency Johannes Leonardo who conceptualized this with me over dinner and wine one night in NYC. lol.
There is something about your construction of words and performance that has the power to hold the listener spellbound. Describe the magnetism to your words? I think it boils down to being Real. From the moment I open my mouth the audience can tell if I’m being real or fake. They can also feel the impact of the message. Because I always write about our lives, our struggle, our pain and our joy from new perspectives.
I first became aware of your work through tracks such as “Soldiers” and “I Apologize”, and more recently when Osunlade dropped “iPoem” on an unsuspecting Suncebeat crowd at 6am. For me and many others it was a profound experience. Have there been any incidents recently that have left you creatively speechless? Perhaps in terms of positive feedback.
First of all, shout out to my brother Boddhi Satva who produced “I Apologize” for me! Second, I’m always being entertained and moved by even the smallest things on a day to day basis. But recently I witnessed some amazing talent at a “DayBreaker” event here in NYC. From dancing to singing, there’s always great talent out there.
There are whispers by some, that you could be our 21st century social messenger. If this is true what is your message and how will you know when you have achieved it?
Me?… The 21st Century social messenger??? whoa, that’s heavy yo. That’s some big shoes to fill. But hey, if its me, then so be it cuz I came into the Arts with the right intentions. Always for the People. To uplift and inspire the People for generations to come. And my message would be to live a life that does good for not only yourself, but also to others. With all these shootings and killings, we could really could use a dose of understanding and forgiveness.
The ultimate message would be to find peace within yourself so that may translate to the energy you contribute to the rest of society.
If you could go back in time and reconnect with your 16 year old self what one piece of advice would give and why?
I’d say to myself, “ Yo O, f*ck all the bullshit, stop being so afraid, work hard on your craft, and trust your PASSIONS. Everything is going to work out just fine!”
What are your future plans and where can readers find out more about your work?
My plans for the future include the release of my new album “Passion In Veins”. Also releasing some remixes I’ve done with Atjazz for the “Soldiers by Soldiers” LP. I have a Lady Alma remix dropping for OsunLade and Yoruba Records hopefully in 2015. And a remix on Agogo records for Gabriele Poso’s “Invocation” album track 006. So basically, I’m gonna keep busy with writing and producing records and DJing more this year than ever. I’ve put out a lot of hip hop music in my career thus far and btw, i.e..( Me and QVLN dropped that J Dilla Tribute that has gotten tons of L’Ove), so I’m going to focus now on making more of that classic future House music sound that’s been in my head now for a few years. Its definitely time to let the people hear the future.
Moca Arts Music (ASCAP)