Figuring out Baltimore’s Oscvr Wow
Your name is a play on the main character’s name from Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, how do you feel you relate to Oscar?
“I mean… yo just like me. He grew up in a diaspora, as a nerd around niggas who weren’t really like him. I grew up in the hood, as a nerd with two older brothers who were hood niggas. My neighborhood was hood niggas. I didn’t really fit in with nobody. I mean I went through middle school and high school feeling that way, you feel me. The whole fucked up relationship thing with every women he was tryna get mirrors my life a lot. The whole going through his life without no love and shit, being a virgin and shit too. It mirrors my life a lot.”
When you first discovered that book how did it change your life?
“I looked at it like this concrete thing, like, this is somebody who goes through a lot of the stuff I had to deal with when I was growing up. It hit me like I wasn’t alone in a way. If somebody could write about a person like this that means a lot of these type of people exist. I was young when I first read the book. I didn’t even think about myself as an individual. I thought about myself as a person tryna grow. Being an individual wasn’t really a thing cus I was part of a family but I was also different from my family. I never really thought about it like that and when I looked at the book I was like damn this makes sense. I’m not the same as the people I’m around but that doesn’t mean I have to be detached. It just means I have to learn to cope with it. Oscar didn’t really cope with the fact that he was different, he was just depressed about it. Right now I’m in a mode where I’m just tryna be the best person I can be without changing who I am.”
How’d you get into music?
“My father dropped out of high school in the tenth grade to pursue his jazz musician career. My sister worked in radio for a while. I started rapping when I was like eight or nine. I was infatuated with it. My biggest influence is Wayne forreal. And when I started rapping I was like damn this is amazing. I was like maybe I should actually make music, but I never really did until a year ago. All of these people that I knew were telling me like ‘yo you can do this, you can do something with it.’ I didn’t know where I was going a year ago, I didn’t know what I was gonna do a year ago. I was just doing it. Really.”
Have your parents heard your music? What’s their take on it?
“My mom likes it. My dad loves it. My sister, I consider her one of my parents really cus she’s guiding me through life the same way they are, she likes it too. I think the biggest reason why my mom likes it is because she finally found out I’m happy about something cus I usually don’t really like anything. My dad likes it because it’s music he can feel. Music he knows I’m making because I want to make it and not because I want to impress anybody. My sister is just like ‘I’m not gonna touch it if it’s not good’ so it’s like I gotta start making this shit really great now.”
How would you describe your music?
“Honestly, it’s like levels really. Like from when I first started to now. When I first started I would describe it as neo soul. As I grew I started molding it into something I wanted it to be. Every artist starts off with a template, and I started off with a template. Right now my life… the music I like reflects how I’m feeling. Now it’s more so the music I’m making reflects my life instead of what I like to make. So, it’s more I have to make this instead of I want to. So it’s more me music in terms of a genre or how to describe my music. It’s a lot. It’s too much to think about really.”
What’s your writing process like?
“Damn, that’s a good one. Usually when I’m writing it doesn’t really take me that long. At all. It takes me like fifteen minutes to write a good song. Like thirty minutes to write a great one. When I’m writing with friends I’m usually the first one to finish, but I also take a long time to record. That’s just me. My writing process is basically me sitting down, looking at everything I wanna talk about, and making it flow as much as possible.”
Why do you take so long to record?
“Instead of practicing the sound of it I practice the words themselves. And I’m learning to practice how I want it sound more cus it adds to my musicality now. Before it was just me rapping and rapping isn’t as difficult as people think it is. But, making it musically inclined is a harder task and that’s what I been tryna do lately. Make it sound sonically better than it is anything else. Like the lyrics… it’s always gonna be lyrical, it’s always gonna be there. I still needa find the sound.”
What’s your favorite song you’ve written?
“The one I just dropped with my friend Dom. Blue Cheese.“
Is After the Party about anyone specific?
“Actually it’s about four girls. It’s a whole bunch of bars… about four girls in my life. Don’t you know how you’re talking to somebody you fuck with at a party? Y’all chilling. Y’all coolin. Y’all having great ass conversations and shit, you feel me. Out of nowhere you think damn I should get their number. Y’all only talk because of that night and after that y’all never talk again. It’s crazy because that happened to me a couple of times…”
*he explains the bars in After the Party* Many of the girls he talks about are from the Biddle era. A time you can only wish to have experienced.
You don’t perform much. Wassup with that?
“I don’t perform much? Niggas don’t book me much. I’ve gotten so much energy built up just to perform. Our first show, Tribal stress, was at Art Show 2. My friend was like Kai was throwing an event and I was like ard bet lemme hit em up. When I hit up Kai I told em to meet me at an open mic so we could talk about it forreal. So I could get my whole team on the ticket forreal. And we had performed our first two songs No One and Natural. When we performed No One and Natural my energy was low, I didn’t know how to perform then. But, it was still a great performance. We did a really good job. It was our first performance in front of a whole bunch of people, it wasn’t literally our first performance though. Ever since I been doing shows by myself, I did Jazzo Jams by myself, I realized I could actually perform. That’s my whole thing. In the Baltimore scene it’s the same six niggas performing. Nothing against them, they all nice. It’s the same niggas hosting these shows and giving the same niggas the same shine and like nobody’s getting fans off this. Nobody’s bringing new people in. And I’m not saying I’m nice enough to just be brought in but I think I’m good enough to bring in whole bunch of people to where it’s like everybody’s eating and everybody’s getting fans. Cus when you have the same eight people doing the same shows, nobody’s eating. Niggas getting the same kinda fans and the same people as fans just to come out and pay the same amount of money they would to go for any other show. They just paying cus they friends and not really fans. I feel like that’s a problem. I feel like the reason I’m not performing is cus I’m not in that circle of six to eight niggas. I’m not saying I wouldn’t wanna be. I’m just saying it’s just difficult for me to get into that, you feel me. Like I wanna be performing. I wanna be doing these shows. I’m actually throwing an event where I’m probably not performing, but I’m tryna have people I know who aren’t getting shine that are nice, who I don’t know personally, get the shine forreal. I like when that happens. The Demo Tape tries to do that a lot. I don’t know anybody else in Baltimore who throws events that lets everybody get shine. It’s not bad, it’s just bad for artists. It’s bad for artists because they ont really get to grow. I feel like the reason I’m not performing is cus I’m not at that level yet. When niggas start seeing me flex and be on that level I guess then I’ll get more performances. I’m trying, I guess.”
Have you tried submitting your work to perform anywhere new?
“Occasionally but like right now… what it is really is I’m part of Black Confetti, right. Me and Unknown. Me and him are a duo and what I’ve been tryna do is get both of us to perform. We been putting out a lot of solid work. It’ll help him become a better artist and help me become a better artist cus I would like to build chemistry with somebody else on stage. I be wanting to submit music and he be wanting to submit music but we literally always are working or in school and we don’t wanna submit any old shit. That’s the problem with that. And if I’m bouta perform by myself I gotta know that Ima be secure in way that my people are coming out, my people are showing love, and my music is hitting right. I’m not getting that many listens or shit on my songs, but the songs are good. After the Party is a great song, I would love to perform that song. The song we just dropped, Blue Cheese, is a great song. I would love to perform that song. I would submit those to anybody tryna let me perform. I don’t know what else to say about that.”
Is there anything else you want them to know?
“Everything that’s coming from me is gonna be crazy… in terms of what I’m doing with it. I’m introducing new flows to all of my music. I’m working with new people to broaden my horizons… I have songs with different niggas that niggas probably wouldn’t think I would work with. I’m branching out basically and that’s what I want niggas to know. I’m becoming a better artist because I’m working differently in how I want shit to get done and what I want to get done.”
Hear one of his latest songs below. Find him on twitter @OscvrWow