Orend Johnson Jr, better known as Optimistic Gangsta, is an emerging artist and record label founder. Known for his poetic songwriting approach and biblical-like nuance in his music, the energy he pulls in very much plays off of the name he lives up to.
Focusing on his recent 20 track project, 'The Interrogation (Deluxe),' Optimistic Gangsta has listeners viewing the world from his creative lens as he sheds a meaningful proposition throughout the tortuously crafted body of work. The introductory single on the album, titled “My Spirit,” immediately hints at what listeners have in store as they prepare to indulge in the sonic feast that Optimistic Gangsta has carefully formulated. Playing into the title of the album, the elaborated tale of interrogation in the court of law has us anticipating the structure about to be divulged.
Instantly standing out to us the final two tracks “World Change,” and “Calling Out to Yeshua,” that are offered up on this album leave us in the deepest thoughts of a cognizant outlook. As the narrative unfolds throughout each song, we’re fully absorbed in the conscious thoughts of Optimistic Gangsta being reiterated over melodic instrumentations that dramatize in complexity as we have seen the album progress.
“The Analogy of Temptation,” and “Contradicting Yaweh,” are prime examples of the degree that Optimistic Gangsta hones in on these techniques. There are various tones that are taken into account as the spellbinding vocalization conveys contradicting thoughts in the world’s prophecy that each action of every human lives out, and the inner thoughts that we encounter through the blurred lines of confusion and temptation.
Enlisting collaborations throughout specific soundscapes, we hear the talents of Eukoh, Aaliyah Edwards, RQuees, and Kool-Aid High help to enhance the lyrical intricacy that lies in tracks such as “Interrogating Your Hatred,” “New Retaliation,” and “Dance Like Yah.” Delving into the depth Optimistic Gangsta embodies through his portrayal of lyrical dexterity, we’re witness to the various theological personas that he takes on as he reflects on biblical passages that he transitions into the essence of his own. A frenzy of depth lies in the context of the lyricism executed on 'The Interrogation (Deluxe).' Swaying from subjects such as hate and love being the same and aren't meant to be justified by courtrooms of law but only by God, to the only way the oppressed can take back what is taken, is for them to come together in unison as they go to war with the oppressors, leaves us floored at the vulnerability radiated by Optimistic Gangsta’s perspective that he authentically shares with his audience.
As Optimistic Gangsta dips into political matters in “Yes We Can,” and “Amen,” wanting to change prophecy through sacrificial acts in, “Sins in the Garden,” a retrospective lens of how the system is rigged to hurt Black and Latin communities in “Compartmentalize,” and questioning God’s work in “One Question,” we begin to see the multi-dimensional layers of him through the distorted timbres and added textures that enrich Optimistic Gangsta’s perception.
We hear Optimistic Gangsta express a medley of worlds that deserve to be studied and dissected at an ethereal level of realization. Although he effortlessly captures this type of profound intimacy in the mindset he showcases, we’re also offered up more effervescent tracks such as “Ghost,” “Scream,” and “After Dark,” that were intended to cater to Halloween through infectious grooves, and groundbreaking lyrics. “Scream,” does set itself from this trio as the lyrics are meant to expose the entertainment industry, versus a feel-good party vivacity that the other two songs embody from the inside out. We find that it does an exceptional job of tying into the track “Artist Are Slaves;” a song that goes further into the lyrical topics uncovered in a forthright depiction of raw tenors. We then see how the media attacks the individuals in the mix with “Privacy,” blowing the doors off of everything the media wants you to ponder in direct regard to Black celebrities navigating their way through life.
“Be Alive,” is the double-edged sword that carries the intention of uplifting ones dealing with internal pain and illness, and casting a spell over the ones causing the pain to others through actions of their own. Although dripping in buoyant African-themed instrumentation, this is another prime example of how Optimistic Gangsta pushes the envelope of his artistry in the realm of creativity meets honesty.
The structure that props up the entirety of 'The Interrogation (Deluxe),' truly has us sitting in our seats and re-evaluating the chaos that runs amongst the world. Providing us with a more in-depth look into social issues, politics, and the demeanor of the ones running this world, Optimistic Gangsta has us peeking into a lens that we didn’t know could be more clouded than it already was.
Welcome to BuzzMusic, Optimistic Gangsta. The depth that you invite us into on “The Interrogation (Deluxe),” is eye-opening and remarkable. What inspired you to delve into the waters of exposing the many things that contribute to a negative world?
I was less inspired but more outraged. The feeling of being angry at this world and the feeling of being spiritually exhausted lead me to an uncut and raw attitude. Nothing inspired me, I'm just the type of person who says what's on my mind.
In your own words, could you please tell us what this album means to you as the creator and as an individual?
This album is game-changing and an eye-opener for me. I see what I am capable of and I see the power within my mind and my voice. This is just the beginning of the mission and this album led me closer to God (Yah.) This album means exploration of truth.
You seem like someone who is extremely well educated and up to date on the current happenings around the world. Taking that into account, did you find that this project was fairly easy to execute or more difficult than previous releases?
It was not easy nor was it hard. Its process is indescribable, however, I had a lot of conversations with God, a lot of arguing with God, and a lot of contradictions with God. When God is the A&R, things get shaky in the process but u have to do what you must do. I would say the execution was a fun roller coaster of choices.
Out of the 20 songs that you offer us, do you have a specific song that resonates with you more than the others? Why?
I'd say every song excerpt "After Dark," After Dark was just a playas anthem, it was meant for fun but every other song shows the audience that I'm not playing games and I'm here for one thing and one thing only, that's to free my people from mental chains and to bring them home. They all resonate with me because I'm painting a picture of a warrior fighting his/her enemies to protect his/her's tribe.
If your listeners could take one thing away from this body of work, what would it be?
Don't expect cuteness and bubble gum popping out of me. Except a "pee on my enemies' grave" out of me. I'm not dumbing down for anyone. I'm not feeding you like babies on this project, maybe on others I will but this album will make you question what I fed you. If you can't take into much at once, puke the food out. If you love it eat as much as you can and come back for more. Thank You for having me.