NYC genre benders the Oxymorrons started off 2021 with the debut of their newest single,”Green Vision” — both sonically and visually a seamless blend of hard rock and hip-hop, and therefore a perfect representation of who they are as a band.
Starting as a collaboration of two Queens-bred brothers and vocalists Kami (K.I.) and Demi (Dee), the band was completed with the addition of drummer Matty Mayz and guitarist Jafé Paulino. And from the beginning, the project was meant to be a culmination of their collective love of rock and hip-hop.
“From my dad playing Lionel Richie to Phil Collins, to our older brother playing Biggie to Metallica, I was definitely an MTV baby,” recalls K.I. “I would watch videos from acts like Soundgarden and Nirvana and pretend to be a rock star, even breaking my bed a few times.”
Meanwhile, growing up in NYC they saw plenty of rappers from their area — including Onyx, 50 Cent and Nicki Minaj — have major success, which was inspiring in itself. But they also knew they wanted to make music that was outside of the box.
“It was acts like NERD, Jay-Z, The Diplomats, Kanye West, Outcast, Jamiroquai, Lupe Fiasco and Kid Cudi that really influenced us the most,” says Deee. “They inspired us to be ourselves.”
Of the new song the band says it’s them putting their mark on the world with a “new “New York sound. They are redefining what rock means, and they are unapologetic about it.
“It’s that real New York braggadocious shit that our city is known for,” they shared. “It’s Oxy: Hip-hop low end, heavy hitting drums, wailing guitars and most importantly, swag. We here to break down genre barriers, kick down walls of what people consider rock music. Rock has evolved but it’s here to stay and so are we!!!! Get used to it!”
The song’s music video, which was produced and directed by A1Vision, was filmed in the band’s neighborhood.
“‘Green Vision’ is putting our culture in everything you see visually and hear sonically,” says Mayz. “Visually it’s in our hood, shot with our people, in places we grew up. We took hip-hop culture and infused it with rock and roll, because that’s who we are.”
You can check out the new song and video, which is the perfect introduction to the band, below.
Hip-hop and rock have been blended in various ways for years. Run DMC and Aerosmith brought the concept to the mainstream in 1986 with “Walk This Way” and has seen many iterations since. And while we saw artists such as Rage Against The Machine took it new heights, we also saw a wide range of quality with mainstream rap rock and nu metal.
In other words, while the blending of these genres is not exactly rare, finding an offering as authentic as the Oxymorrons can be, which is why we asked the band about their experiences as a BIPOC rock band. You can see some of their insights in the Q&A below.
“Green Vision” Single Art
Oxymorrons, “Green Vision” Music Video
Can you explain the choice to make your own version of the Nevermind artwork for the single?
Dee: This is our third repurposing of iconic rock album covers. Rock music is inherently Black, and people have not fully embraced the core essence of rock being part of our culture. So, we want to feed that visually. Making iconic white rock album covers Black, is our way of driving that point home.
What has your experience being a Black rock/metal fan been like?
Matt: There have been times that we have been the darkest people in the room, and those experiences have ranged from being awesome to downright terrible. It’s something that we are very conscious of. Other fans approach us with either curiosity or animosity. Either way, they wonder why we are there and our loyalty to the culture.
Jafè: It’s almost impossible to navigate predominately white spaces as BIPOC people. Seeing another person of color at a show where you already feel like you don’t belong, a sense of safety comes over. It’s kinship that is hard to explain. Outside of shows, it’s a hard anti blackness if it’s not hip-hop or R&B. Within the black community, it is met with a lot of resistance and a misunderstanding of what Blackness is.
Dee: A lot of people write off rock as inherently white, and therefore attack your Blackness in doing so. Which is what we’re aiming to change. The saving grace for us growing up were bands like NERD, Killswitch Engage, Rage Against the Machine, Outkast and the Mars Volta. People of color rocking out harder, making bigger hooks, being more musically technical, and thrashing more than their white counterparts. AND WE’RE NEXT ON THE DOCKET.
Rock music started with Black Americans, but that has not always been reflected in how we talk about rock music or its history today. In recent years, genre lines have become more and more blurred and I, thankfully, see more people of color taking part in rock, which has traditionally been (at least in its mainstream portrayal) extremely white and male. While some … let’s call them traditionalists… have fought the evolution of the genre by deeming certain artists as not “real rock,” rock continues to transform.
How do you envision the future of rock?
Jafè: Less white, male and straight is the future of rock. Thus, more authentic. Rock has always been reflective of the times.
How do you hope to see Oxymorrons fit into that future?
Jafè: We are that future. We are the epitome of what rock is to come. It’s our specific experiences, how we grew up, what we believe in, and our swag bleeding into everything we put out. A genre combining mish mosh of a group of New Yorkers who are just being unapologetically themselves. All we can do is encourage other bands, especially in the BIPOC community, to do the same. Speak your truth and show your individuality to the world.
Hip-hop and rock have been blended together for years in many different ways. What artists do you see as pioneers in doing this?
K.I: “Walk This Way” by Run DMC and Aerosmith as the first. But huge people we look up to are Rage Against the Machine, Linkin Park, NERD, Outkast, Beastie Boys and Public Enemy.
Which artists do you think did (or do) it the best?
K.I: NERD drove it home for us that it could be done in this modern era. We could identify with them sonically and visually. By the way, they do not get the props they deserve at all. They really got through to us, a black fronted rock band, that we could aspire to be.
Is there anything else you want to add?
K.I: Don’t be racists. Support black businesses.