Year in Pop: 2016

Sjimon Gompers

Proudly presenting some select highlights and standouts from this year's Week in Pop: 2016 features with our annual Year in Pop review edition; photograph by Sjimon Gompers.

Oreo Jones

Catching up & getting to know the one & only, Oreo Jones; press photo courtesy of the artist.

Catching up & getting to know the one & only, Oreo Jones; press photo courtesy of the artist.

Oreo Jones has been a rising phenomenon in the Midwest circuits, something of a word of mouth artist who is now finally getting to his deserved, proper due. Hot on the heels of his recent release Cash For Gold released last month on Rad Summer / Holy Infinite Freedom Revival; Jones rises up higher than the hype surrounding the latest contender to challenge the norms of hip hop by breaking into new heights of arrangement, production, & delivery. “Cash For Gold is a nod to those ubiquitous pawnshops signs that seem to blot every poor and working class inner city neighborhood. The signs entice people to turn over their most valued treasures for a quick hit of cash they so desperately need,” Jones explained in a recent article describing the meaning behind the title of his opus. “On the contrary I look at it as finding wealth in memories, experiences, family, and life. That is the story of this record. Everyone has potential to become the wealthiest person in the planet.”

The Rachel Lowe video for Oreo Jones’ “Barcelona” ft. Miss Mess provides some pure summer heat visuals to compliment the sun-psych production from Harry Otaku & Jones’ delivery. Oreo’s own Spanish holiday dreams imagines a vacation spent by the beach, piers, palm trees, surrounded by beautiful people, sipping a piña colada and soaking in the most luxurious vibes that match Otaku’s wave-winding beat & Miss Mess’s affectionate vocal sample loop. Rachel Lowe’s video blends together what looks like department of tourism type of montages the involve bikini clad swimmers, big splashes, underwater adventures, poses & sailboats aplenty, while swimmers and jet skiers ride in time to the Oreo Jones movement. The visuals conclude with a traditional Spanish dancer showing off some fancy moves, until an old school aerial shot ends the visual affair with cinematic ‘fin’ displayed for good measure.

The Cash For Gold adventures sets out with the synthesizer seekers heard on “Goldust” that encase Oreo Jones’ delivery within a crystallized goldmine of gold bricks, jewels, & rubies. These decadent and opulent palaces are explored further on “Menagerie” ft. KO that name checks Metta World Peace & Harry Houdini all in a couplet that mixes together elements & modes of the modern & vintage, before flipping your mind inside out on “Wildrice for Landon Caldwell” with refrains of, “I’m at the Golden Gate Bridge & I’m spinning like a ceiling fan” where here the entire world suddenly feels like a psychotropic carousel. Jones keeps his own consciousness drifting & shifting all throughout the album with the “Mud” baptismal that spills out some tears & solemn worded tales about real struggle from a single mother trying to keep everyone fed, to the feelings & moods felt by her son trying to figure out their place in the world’s complicated landscapes. The mood switches to the thrills of “Coogi Sweater” that includes chorus bars like “my chain keeps falling in my milkshake,” to Street Fighter II pass times, to the hard hitting deep trap drop of “Caravaggio” ft. Flaco’s verse about living that caviar dream-life.

That good life only gets better as “Barcelona” brings something wavy that will inspire you to fly oversees, to the fashionable travels of Oreo Jones & his “Wide Brim Hat” ft. Sedcairn Archives. Giving a shout out to his hometown “Indianapolis” with an auto-tuned interlude, “Murder Shrine Balloons” ft. J Hex brings about cathedral like fervent reverence, & passion presented by J’s delivery & Jones requiem for “the good ol’ days.” Fleetwood Mac fixations play out in the lifestyles of the rich & famous as Jonesy boasts about chilling at “Stevie Nicks House”, paying tribute with the super smooth synth-saturation of “The Honorable Uncle Phil”, counting that money in the bank paper on the swagger & high end swank of “Sufficient Funds” ft. Sirius Blvck (that even includes a shout out to Warren Buffett). Film reels spin like wheels in the minds on the celluloid twist of “35mm” ft. Miss Mess, before pushing into Cities Aviv territory on the celestial & surreal “Fholston Paradise”, right before the ticket to paradise takes you to the closing “Swan Song” ft. John Stamps that closes up shop waxing more about that good life with a “take me to Disneyland” refrain that presents our multi-disciplined artist in a celebratory-but subdued mode as if he just won the Super Bowl. Join us now for an insightful interview with Oreo Jones.

Tell us what is the latest & most amazing about Indianapolis as of late.

Indianapolis is super intriguing to me. I feel like all the musicians are finally carving out their identity through their art. When I first moved here it seemed like everyone that I met would tell me they are from California, or New York, or Chicago. No one wanted to identify with the city here. Fast forward to the past few years, artist and musicians have been embracing the amazingness of Indianapolis. The hip hop community is on the cusp of great things, DIY culture is flourishing, and seemingly the value of local art and music is slowly but surely being appreciated for what its worth. Ohh and its smells good in the summer too.

How do your local surroundings impact & influence your own skills as an artist?

I live in Fountain Square. It mirrors millions of low income freshly gentrified neighborhoods all over the country. When I first moved here musicians seemed to live in every other house on the block. You could walk in and out of band practices in session and it was the holy mecca of house shows. It’s currently loosing that dirty sheen that was so captivating to me. When I create I draw from surrounding influences, stories, artists, experiences, they all come into play. Its give and take but I’m happy to call this place my home.

Tell us what’s good on your new Cooking Show!.

We Just wrapped up our 420 episode with Nathan Arizona. We made Merle Haggard Mac n Cheese and some slow Faygo sodas. I almost had an anxiety attack because I was so high. You should check out the show on your local Youtube Listings. We have a crew of some of the best artist in the city that help me create some cool stuff

Oreo Jones & the cool cats; press photo.

Oreo Jones & the cool cats; press photo.

Interested too in hearing your thoughts on the Rachel Lowe image arranged video for “Barcelona” ft. Miss Mess.

I met Rachel at Sam’s Silver Circle (a dive bar here in the neighborhood) and she told me she likes to make music videos. She has a great eye and direction with all the found footage she picks up. I still love the way people are creating stuff with old analog footage. It’s the nostalgia and overall vibe that makes it so appealing to me. Barcelona is a song about escaping and leaving to your own paradise and i believe Rachel helped harness that in the video.

What was the making of the Cash For Gold album like for you? What did you learn? What sorts of breakthroughs about yourself did you discover?

Before I start working on new material I always make sure I push myself out of the comfort zone. I try experimenting with new sounds and I listen to a lot of different music. I think its important for me to work with other artists outside of hip hop. Working with Jilly from We Are Hex, Landon Caldwell from Creeping Pink/BurntOnes, Kristen Newborn, Miss Mess, and Sedcairn Archives was a real treasure because they all bring something different from their own side of the spectrum. Its wild seeing/hearing that and translating that through hip hop.

What else have you been watching/listening to/reading a lot of lately?

WOW. I’ve been really listening to Suicide lately, specifically the Alan Vega and Martin Rev album, the 1977 self titled record rules too. Belong, Mood Rings, US Girls, weird shoegaze shit. Been feeling Princess Nokia, Nagasaki Dirt, Mathaius Young as far as hip hop. That latest Caribou record is great too!

Right now im reading Revenge of the Lawn by Richard Brautigan. It’s a compilation of short stories from the 60’s real surreal. Whenever im in a weird mood I crack open some Langston Hughes. I’d like to think he’s my god dad.

What’s next for Oreo Jones?

I’m always working too much stuff. I just got an artist residency through Big Car at a sound gallery here in Indy called Listen Hear. I’ll be curating exhibits and booking cool shit for the gallery. I’m working on non hip hop solo project that is more low-fi R&B all live loops and keys through a drum machine. I’m also in a rock n roll band called White Moms who are currently working on a new record. Its Afro Punk/ weird shoegaze. Currently booking a hip hop festival at the end of the summer called CHreece, and last but not least I’m working on the debut record of a hip hop collective im in with Ghost Gun Summer. #summer16

Oreo Jones’ Cash For Gold is available now from Rad Summer / Holy Infinite Freedom Revival.

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