We've been cooped up too long and need to get the lead out.
Luckily Chicago's Osay has been busy living the process of music creation and has provided us all a soundtrack to navigate the new and unfolding world by releasing her EP "Chapter One."
There is a clear love for the craft that illuminates off Osay like the glitter from gold and this heavy hitter on the come-up has the bars, beats and the ever-present resilience to distinguish herself from and rise above the rest.
During the EP's first track "Rouge" the phenomenal R&B sound takes a backseat to Osay's explosive hip hop style that reveals itself at the 1:18 mark of the song, which gives you a hint about what to expect from her growing catalogue.
"Rouge" is a highly polished song prepped and ready for the clubs, car stereos and headphones as it is an absolute hit that paves the way for the rest of the EP.
I was recently able to connect with Osay and ask her a few questions about her music.
As a resident of Ontario the reference to the province in the song "Try Me" stirred my Canadian pride.
Have you spent much time in Canada?
I had to give a shout out to the lovely province of Ontario one good time. But yes, I've been to Canada twice but that was a long, long time ago. My family and I visited Toronto when I was a kid. I remember visiting Niagra Falls and being amazed by the leaf on all the Micky D signs lol. I'd love to go back now that I'm older cause I really want to really check out the sites and explore the music scene up there.
You've said that your main goal in music is "To make it ok to be yourself and to celebrate your individuality," do you have the same ultimate goal for your label "Established in the 90s?" or does the label have another focus?
Great question, yes I do. I would love to create a space where creatives of all kinds can come together and create unapologetically without feeling like they have to conform in order to be successful. I've been turned down, ignored, and told no by so many people because I don't fit the mold of what a female rapper is supposed to be and I hated it. I create because it's an extension of myself, not because it's going to make me rich or popular so it sucks when people overlook what you have to offer because you're not doing what everyone else is doing. I think the greatest artists of our time were the ones who created from a place of unbridled self expression. I want to eventually get to a place where I can help artists who are true to themselves. I don't care what genre it is, if it's honest, if it's true, and if it's dope, I wanna be a part in helping to shape it.
There is a pure level of authenticity present in your music by the way that you incorporate pieces of old school R&B and Hip Hop into a finished product that is as modern and cutting edge as it gets, are you consciously balancing the modern and old school sound or is the formula concocted unconsciously?
Thank you but I didn't intend to create music that leaned so heavily on old school sounds, I kinda chalk it up to influence to be honest. My biggest inspirations are from the 90s/early 2000s era and I think thats why so much of my music has that vibe and why I subconsciously gravitate to certain sounds. I wasn't even aware of the old school/new school vibe in my music until other people brought it to my attention and I started to embrace it from there because I mean why not.
In "Shimmy Season" you let some insight into your love life and what you are looking for in someone, what do you think is the single most important quality in a person?
I'm very much big on the quality of a person's character. I think one's character is so foundational to who they are intrinsically and everything builds from that and its something I take note of when I'm looking for partnership, friendship, business relationships, etc.
Life is hard enough so I want to spend my time with folks who are just nice to be around and I think the content of one's character plays a big role in how well they treat myself as well as others so that is something I'm huge on. No bad vibes on this side lol.
What can we expect from your second studio project "In the Pursuit of...? Have you noticed your process or style change since creating "Chapter One?"
Man "In the Pursuit of..." is a project I can't wait to release, it's pretty much done but I've been sitting on it because it's a way more personal body of work then my previous efforts. "Chapter One..." was more or less a collection of fun songs I decided to wrap up into an EP without any real rhyme or reason outside of just me liking the songs. I really want to tell more meaningful stories that document a bit more of my journey and experiences in hopes that it may help or influence someone else.
Regarding the creative process I would have to answer both yes and no to my style changing. I can definitely hear the growth and confidence in my sound now more then ever before I've been putting more reps in. But outside of the growth, nothing stylistically has changed. I was working on songs for both projects at the same time so maybe the subject matter may differ a bit with this new release but the mindset and creative process hasn't really varied that much to be honest.
Your name Osayuki means "God created the moon," What is the most special thing that you have ever created?
Hahaha, I can't believe you found the meaning of my name. Ok I respect the hustle Daniel. You definitely did your homework there. But that’s so tricky, I don't know what's the most special thing I created. I guess for now, I'll say a body of work that I'm proud of. My whole life I wanted to release music but it was always something holding me back, whether it was fear or lack of resources. I mean this time last year, I barely had music out. Currently, I have about 12-13 songs out and that is mindblowing to me just to see how far I've come. I've just grown so much as a person these last few years and the songs have been a way to show my growth and progress and I honestly couldn't be more proud for just pushing through despite the setbacks and tribulations.
You've been quoted saying "I admire those who weren’t afraid to challenge the status quo and push the envelope."
Who is an example of someone meeting that criteria that no one would know about, but should?
Hmm...I can't think of a person no one knows about because a lot of my musical heroes are very much admired for their out of the box creativity. When I said that quote, I was thinking about artists like Kanye West, TLC, Lauryn Hill. Those artists really paved the way in their respective genres by doing it on their own terms, which is extremely hard to do when everyone else is playing it safe.
Whether it was TLC and their baggy pants and condoms on their clothes or Kanye and Lauryn, who's subject matter veered away from what their peers were writing about, I think its really cool to see an artist create their own lane and set up the groundwork for future artists to do the same. Honestly, I wouldn't be the artist I am today without their contributions.
The Blues and Jazz are very prevalent and important to your home, the city of Chicago, have you found the city's musical history to have influenced your music in any way?
Yeah, Chicago has very deep roots in blues and jazz music which have influenced a variety of genres. My dad had a few old blues records he would play when he would drive to the city with me and my siblings and a lot of those sounds definitely shaped my creative process. I think the biggest thing I picked up from Chicago's music scene is the importance of storytelling and emoting. A lot of my favorite Chicago artists are great at telling stories and painting pictures through their work and studying those artists helped me a lot to become a better writer.
Is there an art form that you are interested in but have not pursued?
Producing!! Oh my goodness, I wish so desperately I had more time to hone in on producing. Around 2017, I stopped writing and was real heavy into the beat making side of creating and I loved it. It helped me come up with some really dope song ideas and just boosted my overall creativity. But because it takes time to really be a strong producer I gave it up because my writing began to suffer. I would love to eventually do more producing and create beats for my own records but I'm just not there yet.
If you could have one question answered by an all-knowing power, what would you ask?
Ooh, I have no clue. I gotta get back to you on that one haha.
"Chapter One" ends with "I'm on High" which is probably the most revealing track into the mind of Osay.
Being on high, to me, means embracing a positive visualization and focusing so strongly on your craft and process that no outside negativity can take your high away.
With a clear dedication to her music and talent that shines through genre, this EP truly is chapter one for her as the story of Osay has just begun.