Words by Matthew Spence:
Hip-Hops’s favorite introvert, Andre 3000, once said: “The South got something to say”. Years later, he also said on International Players’ Anthem: “Fuck It”. What do these two statements have in common, well take them and inject them into the music of OMNI !. No, not the indie band, the community credit union, or the hotel booker, but the talented up-in-coming hip-hop group, OMNI !. The name may seem a bit common, but the intention is there as the trio: Jordan (JoVaughn), David (DAWVRO), and J’amie all are rising stars that can’t get lost in the sauce. Explaining the name, J’amie tells me: “I knew Omni, omnipotent, present, and all that, I knew the root word meant all that and everything so I wanted the name to encompass all of us”.
Like plenty of great music origin stories, it all started in one place. Not a Garage, but at school (one of the few perks of school being worthful) David and J’amie met in middle school, and Jordan would join the picture (Thanks to Computer class!) in high school. David was already in the groove making beats, courtesy of one of his inspirations J. Cole, and his classic “2014 Forest Hills Dr” that gave him the drive (no pun intended) to want to make beats and rap. Soon shopping the idea of making music/being a group to the homies, Jordan being the most hesitant (Gaming was more on his mind), but give it a year, the three would come together and put their hands in a Three Musketeers circle and decide “Lets’ make music”. 5 years later and 2 projects out with their 2022 debut LP “DOPEBOYS” and their more recent 2023s “PEACHTREE”.
Omni ! is beginning its career with gold, platinum, and diamond material that can go to heights and many levels. DOPEBOYS feels wrapped in southern musical hospitality or as David describes the sound of the project “ignorant ” (but the cool kind): outros that feel like an apple from the tree of DJ Screws Chopped N Screwed sound, beats that hit harder than the first bite of sweet candy, rhymes/vocals that can range in style more than Mel Blanc voice acting. The title track “DOPEBOYS”, “EL CAMINO” and “BRITNEY” are solid examples. PEACHTREE, their more recent effort, has an off-kilter bounce throughout but it’s not by chance, let Dave tell ya: “I’m thinking Timbaland/Ludacris type beats for the first end of the album, towards the end of the album it’s more Memphis inspired”. JoVaugh would add: “We basically wanted to take Memphis rap and early 00s music and combine and make them southern as fuck”
[DAWVRO uses FL Studio for producing FYI for the production nerds!]
Both projects and their music as a whole grasp your ears so, that the second a track starts, you want and need to finish it.
Now, February 22, wasn’t just your average Wednesday. Birds were chirping, and dogs barking, ok so it was a regular day, but this was more eventful for me as I had the opportunity to speak to the trio via video call.
Entering the era of PEACHTREE is a significant transition for the group, like musical adolescence, we see growth in many ways but not without trials and tribulations. On the positive level, it feels as if they’re finding their zone and their vision is starting to align. But this isn’t just me speaking out of my ass, as they seem to agree, with the title track of the album being a starting point of a new spark of writing. “Sometimes we have an idea for songs and we’ll try to make it but it doesn’t come out that way but for it [PEACHTREE] we had an idea in our head it came out exactly the way we hoped. Which would entail a new shift in their overall craft of making their art. Before PEACHTREE, it was more individual. “I’d usually just make a beat and Jordan would usually be with me and I’m just making a making the beat, he’d [Jordan] would write to it and he’d put that verse on and if the beat and the verse were really good, the song would usually made it past the first demos or whatever.” For PEACHTREE (and presumably for now) they’re making sure their creative energy blends together when making music. “It’s kinda hard to make music like that now so usually tried to get all together and do it instead of having to do one verse at a time [separately]”.
Listening to them you’re gonna grow accustomed to their southern flare. With numerous references to their southern home of Calhoun, Georgia (a small town population of over 16,000) in their music, title tracks, and their identity of Georgia and the south is worn like brand new shoes (preferably Chuck Taylors). Just check out their Spotify bio, it’s short, sweet, and gets their point across: “Somewhere in Georgia”. Though not necessarily happy about where they’re from, as, home is where the hatred is (in the words of Gil Scott Heron), they strive to embrace the negativity of their environment and transform it into a positive out. Don’t forget where you came from” an old but golden motto, Jordan explains: “[Calhoun] It’s a racist small town in Georgia. We hate where we’re from but we love Georgia. With Calhoun as far as emotions, it’s don’t forget where you came from even if you hate it. There are music artists like JID, Lil Baby OutKast all this great music coming from Atlanta but no one knows what the backwoods of Georgia sounds like so we took where we’re from and branded it ‘Omni ! the backwoods of Georgia is Omni !. He says, “We ran with the redneckish country vibe and made it hip-hop”.
This is a fair input, while hip-hop is universal, it becomes conventional (in the US at least) to hear hip-hop artists from the usual locations and represent the usual suspects of hip-hop regions. New York (the 5 boroughs in particular), California, Illinois (Chicago), Michigan (Detroit), Georgia (Atlanta), Texas (Houston) Florida (Miami), etc. Have you heard a rapper shout out their hood in Idaho….exactly? Whether it may be common in cities or states it can be a routine that may need to be shaken up. Issac, their manager, is the one who helped spark the idea of owning where they’re from in their music, so shout out to Issac. “[He] said just claim where you’re from no matter where it’s from. Look at Brown County, no one knew where that was then X [XXXtentacion] blew up and it’s like one of the biggest places in Florida”.
All of those cool ingredients may have made PEACHTREE, “the soundtrack to our lives” as JoVaughn calls it for them. However, don’t let the surface fool, as PEACHTREE may sound bouncy and lit, but within the lyrical subject matter, it isn’t as peachy……pun intended. Going from DOPEBOYS to PEACHTREE started with an idea to flesh out, “a wolf in sheep’s clothing” musically. With ideas floating around and with 4 different sounds for the project, for certain one thing landed. “Make a fun album but it’s so depressing when you sit down and pick it apart,” Jordan tells me. Yet, have it be done with musical science, “do it in a way that’s never been done, but yet feels nostalgic”. “PEACHTREE is my favorite for that reason, it sounds fun but it sucks how sad it is”. The old switcharoo, a sad song that sounds happy/upbeat, points to “Hey Ya!” by OutKast as a famous example.
However, they’re not just a troll group, in fact far from it, this was just one way they wanted to experiment with expressing themselves but it’s not their agenda to have a facade for every album. David explains: “I want to be more vulnerable and not trick you like PEACHTREE was supposed to trick you with happy production but the lyrics are sad, so I wanna capture more emotions”. What’s the subject matter you may ask? One motif is…..their moms (no I’m not making a Muscle Man joke). Relationships with their moms are something they tackle often, the opening track on PEACHTREE “POP!” has a bar from JoVaughn “Momma told me ‘Ya I ain’t proud’ get out my DAMN HOUSE”. It’s a motif that they’re self-aware of, even acknowledging in their skit called Barely OMNI, which has a special appearance from Barely Legal.
At the end of the day, music is therapeutic. Let Jordan explain: “Dude it’s everything, whenever we’re going through shit or someone is, we’ll have a convo to see and make sure if we’re and everyone is good, then we’ll make the music the next week or so. Every problem comes out. We’ll go from stressed to ‘oh we made the best song'”. Continuing “We went through a lot making PEACHTREE, like it wasn’t fun but when we finished it we were ‘Damn we really made this and did it’. The most vulnerable piece of work we’ve done and it feels good to let everyone know what we went through in this project and the reception has been good”.
Keeping the spirits of their influences including J. Cole, Kevin Abstract of Brockhampton, Flatbush Zombies, Sucideboys, Paris Texas, Barely Legal, AG Club, OMNI ! is trying to pave their wave with their sound, but not afraid to wear their influences like a new hat. We never know what the future holds, if we did we’d prevent everything bad that would happen, but what we can be aware of is potential. OMNIs ! potential is high and 5 years from now they have goals that we can anticipate seeing: performing at Camp Flog Gnaw, being featured in Pigeons & Planes, XXL, working with Kenny Beats [The Cave episodes with Zack Fox, Sada Baby, and Marc Rebillet are goated to Jordan], Paris Texas, getting an A$AP Rocky feature and being one of the biggest groups of the decade. Goals upon goals, however working towards their future they’re extremely appreciative of what they have accomplished so far: being featured on Lyrical Lemonade and opening for the fav artists AG Club & Barely Legal. For Omni ! there’s more to come. Yet, there’s still room for the simple things that many people hope for: “When I’m 30, I wanna start to windle from music and start a family. Like 30, I’ve done all the 20-year-old shit rapped did all that”, Jordan says. J’AMIE cosigns the family idea and adds for himself: “But I wouldn’t want to abandon music because of it. These guys are lifetime friends and we cemented that, I definitely feel we’ll have huge progress even within this year, the next 2 years, 3, 4, years whatever the Lord has in store for us and I’m willing to take it”.
Good enough for ringtones [they suggest NERD or Mommas Money for that], parties, cars, and working out, their music is for a range of many outlets. As we wrapped our convo, after an hour of geeking out over Brockhampton, magazines, among other cool shit, I was asked by JoVaughn “Why do I do what I do?” and well to shorten a long ass answer: it’s because of creatives such as OMNI !
Photos were courtesy of OMNI ! (Thanks YO!)