Harlem's trillest rapper on the LA kids fusing early 90s sounds with futuristic funk
Taken from the March Issue of Dazed & Confused:
DAT Pretty motherfucker, A$AP Rocky on LA four-piece OverDoz: “When I first seen OverDoz.’s video for ‘Lauren London’ I was like, ‘These might be the wildest niggas I’ve ever seen in my life.’ I fuck with OverDoz. because they blend that early-90s R&B sound with that funky futuristic OutKast shit and have fun doing it. And Joon is crazy as hell!”
It’s a matte grey Tuesday lunchtime in South Central, LA, and all four members of OverDoz. (plus one baby) are gathered around a Formica table at the legendary Earlez Grille diner. The young rappers are cracking jokes, cooing at frontman Joon’s toddler, Cinco, and stopping every few minutes to holler at an endless stream of passing friends through the window. “I’m the only one that’s not a JT (jive turkey) in the group,” explains Sleezy P over the din. “There’s three JTs and a P.”
Three-quarters of LA’s most colourful new rap crew are South Central born and raised, and they’ve all known each other since their school days. But while OverDoz. might have grown up on the gangsta rap with which their hood is synonymous, they ain’t no gangsta rappers. “Some people listen to Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg to get through their day – we did, too,” says Joon. “But we listened to Sly and the Family Stone and N*E*R*D and fucking Maroon 5, too.”
Alongside their Compton-raised neighbour Kendrick Lamar (who guested on debut EP Live For, Die For), OverDoz. are pushing LA rap beyond the old murder-and-misogyny stereotype, with trippy lyricism, syrupy synths, and basslines that bounce like lowlows. It’s G-funk minus the G; music “that gets you high without getting high,” as P puts it. And there are mindbending visuals to match: the video for “Lauren London” sees the boys lighting cigarettes with light sabres and launching, Supermanstyle, into the LA sky. They even have an in-house comedian in the form of Cream, a crowd entertainer, skit creator and all-round mood elevator.
With west-coast rap now firmly back on the map, there’s a growing sense of excitement in LA, making for a healthily competitive music scene that, Jamz says, “feels kinda like high school.” But don’t make the mistake of dismissing OverDoz. as a bunch of class clowns. As well as putting in an appearance on A$AP Rocky’s Long.Live.A$AP, they’ve just wrapped their own debut LP. “Our album is gonna have a real eerie feeling that might surprise you. Some people look at us and think we just happy, smoking, weird, turnt up, all of that,” Jamz adds. “But it’s not all peaches and cream.”
Photography John Kilar