The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscvr Wow
How the Baltimore artist is channeling depression into his upcoming project, 'Swimming'
Oscvr Wow may not fit the traditional mold of a Baltimore artist, but at 21 years of age, he shows great promise. The Morgan University student’s music is best described as an emotional outpouring from the result of his consistent work ethic and passion for his craft. He doesn’t fit in with the norm, and his music is a reflection of such circumstances. The combination of social trauma and his outward personality has helped shape him into the musician he is today, and his music matches his persona. He wears his heart on his sleeve and leaves it for everyone to hear in what he creates. I find great value in every conversation we have. I recently sat down with him before his Creme Brûlée exhibition last Friday on May 26.
Bryan Maple Jr.: You used to go by another name, ‘Kiddartha.’ How did your name change come about?
Oscvr Wow: Darker days. Kiddartha. Niggas called me “kid” because I used to have like a light voice and I was small as shit; like I was just a kid. I was like “Damn, kid’s cool.” “Kiddartha” came about when I thought I was on the same path as the Buddha, but then I was like “This is getting to be too much of one thing. This isn’t nuance enough, this isn’t good enough.” My energy changed, it felt more like I’m doing it for myself. I’m also trying to put out the best music possible too. Kiddartha wasn’t having no fun; just a cathartic depressed nigga who’s putting music on tracks but not really saying anything, he just putting words on a track. He made a song and called it music but it really wasn’t. It really wasn’t what I wanted it to be. Songs like “After the Party” and “Details” are more of who I am – Oscvr. This will be the final name change. I related to the book The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (by Junot Díaz) where it’s like this kid who doesn’t really fit in with everybody. He a virgin, he doesn’t really do well with women. I was like this me. It’s W.O.W. because “Wow, this nigga astonishing
Bryan: So are you still with Tribe?
Oscvr: -laughs- Tribe is forever bro. That’s my baby; I will never abandon any of my babies, so ya still with Tribe. Tribe is still a thing it still exists, we family we were never really a group who really made music together we were just a whole bunch of people who could use each other’s resources well who also happen to be friends.
Bryan: What should everyone be expecting out of Oscvr Wow?”
Oscvr: Ard, bet, that’s a good question ’cause I have a tape coming up – and it’s crazy. It should have like four main producers, one bonus track (produced by Daveology.), three tracks produced by Micheal Taylor, one track produced by talk2nobody, and another three tracks produced by Mac Lotus. It’s called Swimming. Swimming is about me learning how to swim, in a metaphorical sense. When I think of depression I think of drowning. I think of something holding me back. Honestly, the tape is called Swimming because I learned how to swim instead of drown. With Swimming I wanted to create a tape that was produced mainly by Baltimore niggas. Like literally Baltimore niggas. I’m working to open that dialogue of “Oh, Oscvr be working with hella niggas in Baltimore. What’s up with that? Like who is this nigga?” I’m always good just hit me up. If you give me something, I’m giving you something back. The concept of the tape is just a different level to me. I came up with it in a short span of time.
Bryan: That’s with most of your music though.
Oscvr: Ya, it is.
Bryan: How much influence does emotion have over your tapes?
Oscvr: A lot of influence. Men are taught to not be emotional, but me as a person I can’t have that bottled up and then turn into a person I don’t like – I turned into a monster. I just wasn’t the best me I could of been.
Bryan: What do you mean by that?
Oscvr: Before I started being open about my emotions I would always be angry, not as easy going as I usually am now a days. I mean, of course like I was depressed but nobody knew. I barely knew I was depressed until like 11th grade when I like got my heart broken. It wasn’t even by no girl that was mine, I was a lame nigga. I got my heartbroken by a girl that wasn’t even mine and it was the worst and I realized I can’t be like this no more. I can’t sit by and take this L. I put my emotions through my music. You probably see me on my timeline spazzing. There’s no point in putting in energy I’m not going to get back.
Bryan: I be seeing you -laughs- When I first met you a year ago, you were chilling. Do you think the drugs and emotions changes your music ?
Oscvr: The only drug I do is shrooms. I like putting my experiences into my music and speaking about how it’s changed me. “One Day” is literally like real. Like I’ve just been finding light in sound, that’s just me finding the light and darkness through music and I’m speaking about shit I’ve seen. I grew up in the Village (Edmonson Village), but I moved when I was in like middle school to where we are sitting at right now. I was never a hood nigga but I saw a lot of hood shit. I was the type of nigga who mother would tell me get in the house before the streetlights come on and worry about people knowing where I live. My brothers used to get into fights and I would say I can’t jump in, Imma die. One of my brothers told me Imma be good with girls, and never gave me any advice after that. All of middle school and high school they didn’t tell me that girls fuck ya head up. I wasn’t really using drugs until I noticed I was a sad nigga.
Growing up in the Village comes with a stigma of being a hood nigga and it’s not about that. Being a Village kid is about being a part of the culture. It’s about taking care of your neighborhood and yourself while also helping out your family. Village folk just wish the best for everyone especially other people from the Village.
I notice it when I speak to my brothers, they like complete hood niggas doing shit that I’m not about, and I’m like “Oh, I’m a nerd.” You’ll hear a lot of video game references in my music. I used to play sports then video games came out. What was I supposed to do? Now I can peep what a hood nigga would have to go through because I saw what was going on outside of my house. I saw a nigga get hit up for not having that shit up. I’m like seven or eight seeing this. I remember Ms. Peaches with the baggies of french fries and the frozen cups. Them bitches smack. Them bitches really crazy. The hood experiences is really one of the best experiences to grow up on because it teaches you how to be a person like school taught me how to code switch and have different vernacular for where I be at. Growing up in a hood setting taught me how to like be myself more. It’s hard to do you when niggas want to hate on you for everything you’re trying to do now a days. Like nobody I’m around is mad because i’m trying to rap and act. I just appreciate all my niggas being there for me. Like it’s alway this weird kind of hate in Baltimore like “What you trying be a rapper for?” Every nigga in Baltimore has the background to be a rapper because niggas go through a lot in Baltimore. Like niggas got to be rappers or something. You just gotta listen to what they be going through. Some niggas used to get banked everyday and they stopped getting banked because the started carrying a gun on them now. Niggas live hard lives in Baltimore niggas don’t understand that. Some rapper niggas don’t be livin’ that life, but Baltimore niggas be livin’ that life so them becoming rappers makes so much sense to me because that’s all rappers talk about. Rappers talk about Baltimore niggas lives and them niggas don’t even be from Baltimore bro. I be blown. You can’t be mad at a nigga from Baltimore wanting to rap because the people who not from Baltimore sound like Baltimore niggas. They relatable. Its nothing wrong with Baltimore niggas wanting to be rappers. The only problem is niggas got to be more clever. Like people say Baltimore rappers have the problem of sounding the same.
Bryan: That’s just the Baltimore sound.
Oscvr: What separates Baltimore from the rest of the map forreal is –
Bryan: That grudge, that hard shit.
Oscvr: Exactly, Baltimore a hard place to live man, but you got to. That’s why I feel like my sound is cool enough to fit into Baltimore niggas. Because I know a lot of hood niggas who aren’t really hood niggas but they still lived in the hood so they had to deal with a lot of shit and a lot of niggas.
Bryan: Would you say that’s your audience?
Oscvr: I can’t really say who my audience is because at first it was just me, and then it became more of me when I started to enjoy more of my music. At first I was like “this is cathartic release, just something I need to do.” Now, it’s more like “damn, I enjoy making music.” This is what I want to hear. Fuck everyone else, this is what I want to hear. It’ll be cool if I’m someone favorite rapper one day just for having a different sound. When I first started rapping, niggas said I wanted to sound like Kendrick. Like nigga, what? Nigga have you heard Kendrick? You just saying shit now. -laughs-
Bryan: I feel like nobody should really be hating on a Baltimore artist’s craft. It’s not about being about the shit you rap about. It’s about putting shit you see around and the shit you grew up on in your music. Shit you’ve learned about as you get older. You recently threw your own show of Baltimore artists too.
Oscvr: Ya, I did. It was called Crème Brûlée. It was a multi-cultural event. It was an art show in the beginning with live performances towards the end.
Bryan: What was your thought process when you were picking people for the bill?
Oscvr: I wanted to present artists who are minor acts. I just wanted to give them a chance. I wanted to give them an outlet to shine to get their name out there. Baltimore artists need to stick together. I hate when niggas come for one act and leave. It kills the whole atmosphere. We have to start coming out and supporting each other.
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