Originally hailing from Detroit, Michigan, rapper J. Oso returns with the release of a hard-hitting single and accompanying music video, “drop.” The no-hook, bars-only track layers aggressive lyricism atop an explosive beat. Oso manages to shine through his dark-yet-clever imagery of wealth, accomplishments, and finesse. With sparse 808s and sinister piano accompaniment, the rapper weaponizes a laid-back flow to boastfully mark his territory in a dog-eat-dog world.
“I needed a chance to talk my s**t. People may love the track, they may immediately be appalled by it. I think it just demands to be taken seriously. You can feel the hunger, can’t you? The bold lyrics, the darkness of the beat, even the lack of a hook…it’s all a way for me to make it known to the world that I’m not turning back.”
Q: How did you become an artist?
A: I’ve been writing music since I was in high school – it felt natural as a way to get things off my chest. It very much took the place of journaling or keeping a diary. I remember a friend and I once went to the library and were messing around with writing lyrics. At the end of the day, I performed what I had written and he stopped and just stared at me…and it was a moment where I realized that I saw this music thing very differently than a lot of friends who were into rap music.
Q: How do you think this record is different from your past ones?
A: It’s infinitely bolder and takes more risks. The theme in the music video is that the first half is “what you’d expect”. It’s more aligned with the songs I’ve already released…but the thing is, you don’t get to see the whole picture because my face is concealed by the censor bars. After the drop, the censor bars disappear, and you see a much darker and grittier version of me. It’s definitely a transition into something new.
Q: Any funny anecdotes from the time you were recording or writing ‘drop’?
A: Yeah, I literally put a clip of my grandma at the beginning. Her comments about trying to withdraw money from an ATM were too perfect not to include, and it brings just the right amount of humor into an otherwise dark and suggestive track.
Q: What is your creative process when making music?
A: I’m super particular about looking for beats – that’s the first step. There’s so much untapped talent for instrumentation online, I could literally spend all day listening to beats. When I find one that resonates with me, I typically know after 10-15 seconds. Then I’m instantly writing – no hesitation, no second guessing my selection. And I’ll pace around and write and write and will probably get done ~90% of the song in the first 3-4 hour session.
Q: What’s a record that shaped your creativity?
A: ‘drop’ was definitely influenced by Tyler, the Creator’s “Yonkers” video. That came out 10 years ago on my birthday, and I was stunned by the sight of this guy eating a cockroach in his rap video. I couldn’t tell if I liked or hated the song, but I couldn’t stop watching. I hope that I carried some of that feeling into ‘drop’.
Q: Who is an artist you look up to these days?
A: Baby Keem and IDK. Both artists have been influencing me a lot lately – IDK for his self-awareness and Keem for his hunger & sophistication. I take mental notes when I hear a flow or cadence that I really like from them and try to make it my own in my upcoming verses.
Q: Any future projects?
A: I really want to make a fully sequenced album sometime soon. I want to perform. I want to collaborate with other artists. Many, many things on the way.
Q: What does music mean to you?
A: It’s a snapshot of my inner thoughts from a particular point in time. A lot of my verses sound like a single train of thought that was adapted into a rap song – much like somebody writing in a diary. At the very least, it’s a way for me to put my most pressing thoughts onto paper.
Q: How would you describe your sound to someone who has never heard you?
A: Eclectic flows, introspective lyricism, and bold confidence…