One of the many treasured outings I miss the most are musical gatherings/concerts. I like to call them musical group therapy. Myself and many others come to a common place for an artist or music group, along with a common goal to sink in and listen. We are synced for those few glorious hours. As you read this, may this be a time for you to reflect on your top three favorite music moments or performances.
This artist captivated me by their stage presence and lyrical storytelling. This exclusive quarantine interview is brought to you by the hip-hop, rap, and soul loving music artist, OHMi.
Taylor: Thank you for your time and your art. Let’s start with where and when did music call to you? Or did you call it?
OHMi: I feel like my earliest memory of music being around me was about 4 years old when my aunt would blast music to clean the house. I remember singing and dancing with her to 90’s RnB all the time. I feel that music has always pulled on my heartstrings, and called me to it. Luther Vandross would play when my mom was sad, Soca & Dancehall was a soundtrack when it was a party or just to signify a good mood.
I feel that music and emotions are synonymous and since i can remember I’ve always loved music. Don't get me started on limewire as a middle schooler I had the illest music months before anybody did [laughs]. I was about 8 years old when i realized that i could actually rap and express myself that way. shout out to Lil Bowwow. I can’t remember when I realized I could do it but remember telling my childhood best friend that I could rap and she said prove it, and I spit a freestyle and then I never really did it in front of anyone else until I was like 24.
Do you normally set goals for your music? Do you have a clear vision when you lay down a track? What's your creation process like?
OHMi: The first time I ever recorded a song, my homie Baghead played a beat. it was me, Professa Gabel, and Cyph4. We decided which beat we all liked, it was a sad one [laughs], we smoked a spliff, sat down and we all wrote 16’s. I knew nothing about counting bars, we didn't plan anything out we just wrote, and the dopest thing is that we didn't really spit them to each other until we were done, but we all wrote similar things.
In that moment I really learned about energy, and collective energy, and the way that the beat truly influences how you feel. I love making music with people and especially when it's not planned, we just vibe in the moment and it's super authentic to me. Also, lyrics come to me randomly out of my sleep, or in the shower, or songs are influenced by poems I have created, like U C God. When you watch the video I am reciting a poem that I wrote which influenced the creation of that song.
A component of your music style that I admire is your gifted delivery in storytelling. How does storytelling fit into your musical crafting?
OHMi: Well honestly, the entire basis of Hip Hop is being able to tell your story, with an understanding that nobody can tell it quite like you, because it is your experience. That's what I love the most about Hip Hop. It's about being unique, being clever, being stylish, and still being understood at the same time, even if what you say ain't like how other people would say it.
I feel that all I got, really, is my story and I approach all of my songs with an understanding that I will be telling the truth whether it be about our society or the ways I feel about myself. Until I level up to an ancestor I am always going to be changing and evolving, and my flow reflects that constant change. I would hate for me or anybody to listen to my music and be bored, cause I ain't boring. And I never will be.
How has living in the Bay Area influenced your music? What other experiences or identities influence your creations?
OHMi: How has it not!!! One, I was in middle school listening to The Federation, The Pack (like in my car was my shit also had a crush on Uno), E-40, and going dumb to Ric Roc beats like i have always resonated waaaaaaay more with Bay Area artist. Unpopular, but true fact LA’s music scene is also influenced by the Bay Area so like let's be real i always have been influenced by The Bay.
SHOUT OUT TO ALL THE BAY AREA CREATIVES!!! I didn't start making music until I came to SF State, and I started going to protests in The City (SF). Like I mentioned I've known how to rap for 16 years before i ever made a song because I didn't feel like I had something authentic to offer, and that's what hip hop is about telling your story. You will get FLAMED if you spit lyrics that ain't yours as yours.
Being in the Bay I realized that I wanted to use my music as a tool. The Bay has so much spirit, and heart especially from those who are fighting for what is right. The Bay inspires me to be strong, to be unmoving like the geography of SF, you have to just go around me bruh! I found my spiritual practice in The Bay, had space to understand my queerness, was deeply politicized in The Bay, and I have grown in my artistry in The Bay because everybody in The Bay got their own style and way of expressing themselves. The spirit of this city is about being yourself, and SF is where I feel the outcast come to find sanctuary. I have definitely found my home in the Bay.
Why do you create?
OHMi: I read somewhere that using your gifts to create is the highest form of praise to God, and I believe that. I create because I have something to say, and nobody can say what I have to say like me. I LOVE creating, it’s the part where I feel the most free and the most connected to spirit.
Do you have any inspirations from other creatives/musicians? favorite artists? Got any Bay Area favorites?
OHMi: Bob Marley. Man, I love Bob Marley so deeply because he taught me that when you speak the truth it can unite people. His music has taught me to be bold and honest, and not to back down! BE FEARLESS.
Missy Elliot is hands down one of the most creative emcees in all aspects. She makes beats, raps, writes music for other artists, directs videos like the fucking GOAT! I remember seeing the Supa Dupa Fly video as a kid and being like what the fuck??? This shit is weird and soooo cool. She also influences me creatively because she looks like me, had the same body type as me. She does what she wants, expresses how she wants, she explores creatively the way she wants. She had 3D spit flying into somebody’s mouth. EYE. CON. ICK.
How would you describe your style? What sounds-instruments are you drawn to? How are those sounds/instruments woven into your music?
OHMi: I love the drums, the bass, and especially some clean horns, which is why it was super easy to link with Baghead on our upcoming project. I would equate my style to a surfer, the way I be riding the beat in the sweet spot. Right in the pocket. I'm always changing my flow, because I am always changing. Sometimes the beat has progressions that make you choose whether or not to keep approaching the beat in the same manner or switch it up. I will always choose to switch it up!
Can you share your vision for your upcoming projects with us? (Or are they a surprise?)
OHMi: So my upcoming album is called DVN SPCH ( Divine Speech), and it’s based on the concept that our words have power and that we can choose for that power to either be harmonic and for our highest good or be oppressive.
Any advice for a young MC/singer/rapper/creative in the music realm?
OHMi: Simpl Be YO self and speak your truth!! Also don't rap over your lyrics, that's lazy.
There you have it folks, we were delivered realness, humor, and wisdom from Ohmi the homie. Being able to interview artists is the greatest part of my role here at BFF.fm. It gives us an opening into the process of the sounds that affect our moods, thoughts, and souls.
Keep in touch, you do not want to miss out on OHMi’s new release, follow here: https://soundcloud.com/ohmithehomie and on instagram: @ohmithehomie