By Cynthia Gross
This reading of Alchemical Records content provides a multimedia experience for our audience while increasing the accessibility of our content to persons with hearing loss, low vision, dyslexia, physical or motor disabilities, or are on the autism spectrum.
With his debut album, Stay With Us, Albany, NY-born and Washington, D.C.-based rapper Oliver delivers a thought-provoking collection of songs that enlightens and empowers audiences. Grounded by his own journey of overcoming obstacles meant to bring him down, Oliver’s latest release is one of resilience and triumph.
“I use music as a continuous record of where I am in life. It gives me an outlet to process events, relationships, and grow,” Oliver shares. He explained Stay With Us “begins with rage and conflict and moves through grief, personal loss, and realization before reaching acceptance and triumph by the very end.”
“Did I,” the second single from the album, is a standout track, in addition to “Piano Strings,” which blends classical and rap elements in a compelling way. “A lot of trauma homegrown / We started digging at the roots and saw the venom in our own,” Oliver sings in “Did I,” before the refrain, “And I’m still working on that foundation / I’m putting strength all in this foundation.”
Oliver’s use of nature language throughout the track tied to the foundation motif is poetic and noteworthy. The music video for “Did I,” filmed on a shoestring budget by New York City creative Jon Meharg, mirrors the song’s storyline, capturing Oliver in front of imposing steel structures and ruins. Oliver explores his painful past and what it means to rebuild against the backdrop of boom-bap-era drums produced by Oliver’s long-time friend Richard Stephan.
“And I’m grounded in the fact that every flower won’t be fruitful,” Oliver concludes, reclaiming control over his own narrative and trajectory for the future. Fans of Lupe Fiasco, Common, and Navy Blue will identify with Oliver’s power-packed lyrical flow and uncompromising exploration of issues of equity at the forefront of the Black experience.
“The future is ours,” Oliver declares. “We must shape, build, love, and fight for the world we want to see and make sense of our personal struggles along the way.” As Malcolm X famously said, “The future belongs to those who prepare for it today.” Despite our common struggles as human beings, now is the time to seed the change of tomorrow – for ourselves and for those who follow. Rising artist Oliver is doing his part to lead the way. What will you do to contribute?
Maryland-based singer-songwriter Cynthia Gross seeks to inspire an awakening to all we are and all we can become. With a passion for language in all of its forms and more than a decade of experience as a professional ghostwriter, she is a light seeker who understands the power of each individual’s voice to create positive, meaningful change.
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