It’s this Chicana’s first time in New York, all the way from East LA. So besides learning how to cross streetlights like death doesn’t phase me, I am also determined to learn more about OVEOUS, a self-identifying Afro Caribbean poet and music artist raised in NY.
I first came across OVEOUS through his music partner, QVLN. I watched a video of QVLN busting the beat to “Headlines” on his violin while OVEOUS rapped about a number of topics that didn’t make Drake’s original nor the mainstream news.
OVEOUS has an extensive history performing thought and soul provoking spoken word pieces that have earned him a standing ovation on Def Poetry Jam and various wins on Showtime at the Apollo. According to his end-of-the year 2009 reflective blogpost, OVEOUS dove more into music in 2008 “to return to what was in heart since day one.” And now he has four albums out, with another one on its way in collaboration with QVLN.
After an unsuccessful —NY siren interrupted—phone attempt to get directions into our meeting location, I finally make it, only to see a stressed OVEOUS as I walk out the elevator. Turns out he is in the middle of tour planning plus album release finalizing and I just so happen to want to interview him in the midst of it all. Lucky for me, OVEOUS is yearning for a brief escape.
We talk about his name, his Afro Caribbean identity, his relationship with QVLN, and his goals. You can watch the official video to the newly dropped single “Bones from this duo’s upcoming album. Read further to learn more about NY’s own poet and music artist, OVEOUS.
On the origin of his name
While unapologetically chewing on his afternoon snack—a blueberry protein bar—OVEOUS jokes about how he didn’t want his artist name to be something far from his real name. “I didn’t want to go from Ovi to like MC Ironman or some shit like that,” he snickered. But even more so, his artist name reflects what he attributes his gift to, his younger brother, who passed away to suicide.
Ovi’s close friend told him that he reminded him of Morpheus from The Matrix when he sees him perform. So he took “Ovi” and placed it into Morpheus, turning it into OVEOUS. “In The Matrix he represents someone that was rooting for Neo, there’s a parallel there with me and my brother, who passed away. So it’s like I’m the Morpheus to my brother…in my own little world of Matrix,” he describes. OVEOUS is very vocal about the inspiration his brother brings to his career and constantly thanks him for waking a gift that he never takes for granted.
On his Afro Caribbean identity
I went through a dramatic high school identity crisis before calling myself a Chicana, so I am naturally curious if OVEOUS has always identified as Afro Caribbean. As he smoothly runs his fingers by his lips, he asserts, “I’ve always embraced my African ancestry. And I’ve always been proud of the fact that I got big lips, a wide nose.” He also notes the birth of his 90s dreadlocks as a major turning point in his life, “I still remember that day, like I could still remember walking in there [the salon], with my afro and her twisting my hair up. And when I walked out of there I felt like a brand new person. I felt like I was me, for the first time. I was like, ‘Yo, this is who I am.’ Light skin, Black man,” he reminisces. Since then, he’s embraced his culture while writing, singing, and rapping about it like in his song “Platano Ni-Ge-Re.”
OVEOUS immediately smiles when I bring up this track, “Ni-Ge-Re is a word I created because Dominicans call each other tiguere. So being, you know, a Black Latino, I was like—merge the words nigga and tiguere so Ni-Ge-Re. The song itself is very strongly executed and so I ask him what he was thinking while making it, “I want like some authentic shit and I want to hammer this point across— that’s, I think, a very important issue—to embrace your African ancestry.”
On his relationship with QVLN
The artistic chemistry between OVEOUS and QVLN is evident in their performances, but OVEOUS makes their brotherhood evident with his words. He confesses that he met QVLN on what he refers to as “some fan shit” because he approached him after his performance at a show with Osunlade. QVLN’s tour with Osunlade ended but he was stuck in NY for two more days around Christmas time. So OVEOUS extended his home and they soon became family. When I ask how they started collaborating he tells me, “We were just hanging around each other so much and we were vibing so much, that it was inevitable.”
On his goals
OVEOUS’s brief escape comes to an end with a reflective and sincere look on his face as he shares, “My ultimate goal is to leave a legacy behind. Great music and poetry and poems that will serve people for years to come, for generations…I think that’s what matters to me is the body of work that I leave behind. I don’t know how long I’m going to be on this earth so I feel like I have to get as much out as possible.”
August 31- Burning Man Music Festival
September 1- Ohio State University
September 20- American Music Abroad in Santiago, Dominican Republic