Five rappers, a DJ and two producers come together for one night. What is it? It's Oilhouse, Tulsa's newest hip-hop collective, which is making its live debut this Saturday night, May 14, at Soundpony.
I know, I know: If you're like most, you identify Soundpony with indie rock and a smattering of DJs. Those who frequent the 'Pony, however, know that the small club is the stomping grounds for indie-edged rapper Algebra and hip-hop group Snorlaxx as well as a few other select artists.
It should come as no surprise, then, that when Dan Hahn (Algebra) and Dr. Freeman (his co-conspirator in Snorlaxx) put together a new hip-hop collective, the project would make its debut in the cozy digs on Main Street.
Hahn said that it didn't take long to organize once he brought the idea up to Dr. Freeman.
"We just wanted to get together with some other people that made really good music and do something a little different," Hahn said. "People like to see that: performers that truly like each other and are good at what they do. Once we decided to do this, we didn't have to look far."
Local rappers Mike Dee and Sur'Ron, both of whom made guest appearances on Algebra's Scissortail disc last year, were immediately onboard. Dee recently released a new EP, Sound of Redemption, and also performs with Swagzilla, his full band project. Sur'Ron's latest release was his Synergy EP, and he's made appearances at Soundpony as well.
Also added to the mix is ULUNZU, who is also a member of indie rock act Here Is There, along with DJ Nutter spinning tracks for the entire crew. Credited as producers, John Moreland and Rivi Era have been creating beats for Oilhouse to work with and will likely be in the house as the group makes its debut this weekend.
This may seem a bit of a left turn for Moreland, in that most people know him for his history with hardcore bands and most recently for his Americana-influenced rock, both under a solo moniker and with his previous group, the Black Gold Band. Moreland has been creating beats for Algebra and others for a couple of years now, however, and has quietly become a secret weapon and one of the best in the field, locally. Although Moreland won't step up and rap, as that isn't his forte, Hahn said that Era very well might take a turn at the mike to mix things up even more.
Hahn was quick to point out that Oilhouse isn't a hip-hop group -- it's a collective.
"All of us are solo artists and each of us will keep our identities," he said. "This is more a matter of coming together to do shows and work together."
Hahn also explained that by working as a collective, the cast able to rotate. If Oilhouse opts to play on a certain night and one or two of the members aren't available, it can still move forward with whichever members are present, and eventually open up the sonic co-op to include more artists.
"Elitist is kind of looked at as a dirty word, but I guess that's really what we are," Hahn said. "There are a lot of new guys getting into hip-hop here and they're hitting the streets really hard, but some of them aren't very good.
We want to rescue hip-hop from being represented by people who don't have the right to do that because they don't take it seriously and don't work hard enough or just aren't good. We want to represent Tulsa's hip-hop scene for what it is instead of these guys that are basically slandering it.
"That's certainly not the only reason we're doing this," he continued, "but it's definitely a plus. The main reason was that we're all good friends and wanted to play together to show people a sense of cooperation and community within the music scene."
As a collective, Hahn said that each of the artists will rotate spots throughout the evening for one extended 17 or 18-song set that will likely include an 8-10 minute freestyle set somewhere in the middle.
Although Moreland and Era have provided Oilhouse with a few beats to work with already, Hahn said that any new material will likely be saved for later and is being used for a mixtape project that Oilhouse will begin work on over the summer.
"We'll work on it as the inspiration comes," Hahn said, explaining that "writing isn't something we can force. All the best stuff will come naturally."
For now, you can expect this weekend's debut at Soundpony to signal more shows throughout the summer with gigs at Blue Jackelope and some tentative appearances in Oklahoma City in the works. Overall, Oilhouse signals a new chapter for Tulsa hip hop and a sense of community and cooperation, even if there is an admittedly "elitist" attitude within the group. When analyzing it, though, should everyone aspire to be the best at what they do and raise the bar for the local scene? Maybe we just need more people will to verbalize that and challenge others to do better. Hopefully Oilhouse will do just that and spark a new creative flame for everyone.
(Urban) Tulsa's New Voice
Yes, it's back! Another year has passed and although we're running a little later in the season than we usually do, UTW is once again bringing you the annual NewVo (New Voices) concert, showcasing a handful of Tulsa's most current and promising voices.
Over the years, NewVo has evolved from an all day event to an outdoor festival-type atmosphere to a month long concert series and eventually back to a one evening hit and run showcase that packs a punch like this year's lineup does.
Garrett Weinsdorf covered all the details last week, but it's finally here this Thursday night, May 12, and here's what you really need to know:
1) It's a FREE show
2) It's happening at IDL Ballroom (1st & Detroit)
3) The doors open at 7pm and the music starts at 8pm
4) We've got four bands covering a broad scope of indie rock and hip hop
5) Did I mention it's FREE?
As of press time, plans are for Scales of Motion to kick off the show at 8pm in grand fashion. These guys are a headline grade, introspective indie rock band, but they're doing us a huge favor by playing NewVo first before heading out for double duty and fulfilling another obligation later in the evening. How rock 'n' roll is that?
Claremore based indie/ska-rock act The Last Slice will follow and turn up the party atmosphere at 9pm before Algebra takes over at 10pm. Yes, the 2010 ABoT Music Award winner for best hip-hop artist kicks off his week with Urban Tulsa two nights before launching Oilhouse, so you know it will be a killer show in anticipation of a big weekend.
Finally, the band that is creating a buzz everywhere it plays, Lizard Police, takes the stage at 11pm to blow out the night -- possibly in more ways than one. Some people say the "buzz" they've created is actually tinnitus, but we know better. They're loud, fast and straddling some no man's land between avante-indie, punk and hardcore and even if you can't properly describe it, it's always fun and energetic.
If you know these bands, you won't miss this show. If you don't know them, there's no better way to acquaint yourself than to join us for the 2011 NewVo Showcase at IDL Ballroom. We'll meet you front and center by 8pm.
Has another week flown by already? If you thought April was a blur, you haven't even gotten started. May marks the official kickoff of festival season, but before we hit high gear on the outdoor shows, we've still got some catching up to do in the clubs. Here are a few highlights for this week to help you get started...
• Thursday, May 12 -- If NewVo isn't enough to keep you busy all night, there's even more going on in town to kick off the weekend. Or maybe wrapping up by midnight isn't your style and you'll be ready for more. If that's the case, the most logical first step will be a run to Soundpony for Guardant and No Water. Or maybe you want something a little edgier, like Adrian & the Sickness with Buggirl and Cock & Balls at Downtown Lounge. Of course, you can always double-dip with Scales of Motion and make a late run to Junkie Live, where they'll be playing a second gig with Del Toros.
• Friday, May 13 -- If you're looking to hit the weekend with a party, you've got two great choices. First up, 80's Prom returns for its 9th and biggest incarnation, taking over Cain's Ballroom to create the coolest retro prom of the year. Meanwhile, over at Fassler Hall, Wink Burcham celebrates the release of his new disc with a CD release party that will continue through the night and likely include a nice selection of guests and close friends.
If you're looking for a change of pace, Adam Lopez & the Lo-Tops hook up The Colony with a night of rockabilly and Olivia Duhon lights up Duke's Southern kitchen with some smoldering jazz and torch songs.
• Saturday, May 14 -- Oilhouse may be making its big debut at Soundpony, but that's not the only show of the night. If you're ready to enjoy the weather, Admiral Twin plays a free show at the Riverwalk Crossing Amphitheater stage and I'm sure the overhead doors will be up and windows open at Mercury lounge as The Derailers return for a guaranteed good night of honky-tonk and rockabilly. Finally, the metal crew will be at Reverb to catch Eulogy with Even the Dogs, A Strand of Fate, Romero and Oden's Knot.
• Sunday, May 15 -- One of the best pop-rock bands in the Midwest is back for a headlining gig at The Marquee when House of Heroes returns to support its latest album, Suburba. The new disc taps into classic pop and modern rock with hints of Queen, Alan Parsons Project, Rick Springfield, Meat Loaf and even Rage Against the Machine blended into the band's Beatles-minded pop subconscious. Mike Maine and The Branches open for an early, all-ages show that starts at 6:30pm.
• Tuesday, May 17 -- How 'bout we just skip to the week's main event? The hottest rock band in the land right now, Foo Fighters, headlines BOK arena on Tuesday night with Dave Grohl's good buddy Lemmy (and Motörhead!) providing direct support. If that doesn't rock hard enough, Scottish breakout band Biffy Clyro is back to explode on an even bigger stage and is guaranteed to start the evening off right.
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