OJ Mountain has never been one of those artists you can easily put in a box; the Philadelphia-based rapper and saxophonist simply refuse to be mundane.
A classic OJ Mountain experience will incorporate flavors of abstract hip-hop, indie rock, jazz, and funk to captivate his audience. Matching jumpsuits for him and his band don’t hurt, but OJ’s infectious energy and vocals are definitely at the center of live show experiences that can only be described as unique.
OJ a Mountain ain’t new to performing. Having already brought his talents to venues such as Milkboy, Kung-Fu-Necktie, and even the historic Middle East Restaurant and Club in Boston, fans and new listeners can also catch him rocking Philly’s DIY music scene, where he is a frequent contributor and performer.
“Sweaters” is a continuation of the OJ Mountain experience. Alongside snappy and upbeat instrumentals, OJ’s crisp, precise flow and vocals turn the life story of a sweater into something of the greatest urgency, as only OJ can. By the time OJ raps, “My mood wasn’t the tamest one / A forgotten and aimless son,” each slight to the sweater almost feels like someone’s done wrong to you or your friend.
By the time OJ raps the end of the hook for the last time (“Oh worn, oh I’ve been worn away (way) / Yea!”), you realize that somewhere along the line, you found yourself invested in the story OJ is telling. That’s a common theme for his music: the energy he puts into his songs and performance ultimately leads to a connection with listeners, something increasingly rarer these days.
As the winter months roll on, it's bound to get cold outside. Why not find somewhere cozy and warm your senses simultaneously by giving “Sweaters” a listen?
Welcome to BuzzMusic OJ! You incorporate a lot of different elements into your performances and music. How are you able to make so many different vibes work in your music? How would you describe your music to your fans and future listeners?
As far as the performances and music go, I don’t exactly try to make anything specific work together or go for any tangible vibe. If anything results in one cohesive sound, it’s merely a coincidence. What I listen for when I create changes over time, but all I care about is that it’s authentic to me. Nothing else matters to me. I’m not claiming I’m genre-less either; that would be equally pretentious. I definitely make stuff in an abstract hip hop jazz rap kind of vein. I try not to focus on those titles when I create the music itself, as labels stifle creativity most of the time for me.
Philly is an amazing city with tons of rich history, music, and otherwise. What do you enjoy most about being able to perform there?
Philly is a really compelling city to be an artist in. It’s small enough so that you don’t feel overwhelmed by it but big enough to have lots of opportunities and different kinds of scenes and not be cliquey. Most people here seem genuinely passionate about going out to shows and discovering new artists. It’s not just music either - artists of all stripes come together here in a unique way, and most musicians (the good ones) also do other art projects on the side. If it’s not for financial or personal reasons, the creatives tend to leave Philly to do so because it’s not New York or LA, and I think that’s bullshit.
What was your inspiration behind 'Sweaters'? What did you envision when you were creating it?
I got the inspiration for the song after I had broken up with my girlfriend but was still seeing her romantically from time to time. One day I saw her wearing a baggy sweatshirt that I knew wasn’t mine, and it made me feel some way. I wanted to write a song about it, and I thought it might be cool to write one from the perspective of the sweatshirt itself. Much like how I felt worn out and used up at that moment, I imagined that if the sweatshirt had feelings too, it might have felt similar to me, as whatever guy she got it from basically gave it away to her, not wanting it any longer. I felt like I had a lot in common with the sweatshirt. The song tells the story of the sweatshirt being purchased in the store, being worn a lot, all the way to finally being given away. It parallels human relationships that grow old and stale after a while.
What are you looking forward to bringing to your fans next?
I’m honestly just looking forward to being consistent. After the holidays, I have a song dropping every month, and I’m really hyped to be on top of my distribution for once. It feels great. Besides that, though, I have an incredible music video that has been in the works for a year now that I’m going to throw a release party/concert for. Maybe get some local acts to perform along with me, get super drunk, and then all react to the finished music video altogether. The more I try to be an artist, the more I realize that community is everything. Togetherness is essential.