curated | BLK ODYSSY

BLK ODYSSY’s sound is a refreshing blend of the genres that shaped him from Hip Hop to Alternative and the Blues. The New Jersey native’s versatility means there is a song in his discography to fit every mood. Just in time for summer, Texas-based singer BLK ODYSSY released his latest track XXX featuring Wiz Khalifa. In his interview with Schon!, he dives deep into his influences and puts together a Curated playlist.

Hey BLK ODYSSY, what are you up to right now?

Currently I’m just cleaning my house up a bit and getting ready to hop on some meetings for today ahead of our new single release. Just kind of prepping for the week.

Can you share how you first got into making music?

I initially got into sports and was a little more involved in that. After high school was when I decided that I really wanted to chase the music thing. When I moved to Austin, Texas is when I met my collaborator who plays guitar in the band (Alejandro Rios). He was one of the people that was there from the start and was a big push to get this thing rolling. That’s how the BLK ODYSSY as people know it started. 

How do you think Austin has influenced the style of music that you make?

New Jersey is the main influence, the place that I come from and the culture that I grew up in. Where I’m from we primarily focus on hip-hop and R&B. When I moved to Austin we had to cater to the local sound which was Blues. So, what we did was try to find our own niche within the Blues scene by melding it with R&B and Soul and even elements of Hip-Hop. I think that created an interesting dynamic in our sound and gave us a different perspective that maybe we wouldn’t have had if we didn’t start BLK ODYSSY in Austin. People say that Austin is weird but I grew up just 15 minutes outside of Manhattan so we saw that diversity and a lot of weird stuff there.

How did your Wiz Khalifa collab come about?

I can’t say that I ever saw myself collaborating with Wiz although I’ve been a huge fan forever. Once we finished the record, [we] were talking about who we wanted to be a part of it. Ian Holder from Sony, who is one of the creative heads on our team, said he really thought Wiz Khalifa would be great on it so they reached out to make that happen. About two days later Wiz sent it back with his verse and I was really excited about it. 

What excites you most about the upcoming summer season?

Just the ability to play these new, fresh songs for these crowds. We’re traveling all over the world this year and I feel this record we’ve been working on is built for the summer. I’m really excited to get the sound out, record new visuals and meet new people. I’m excited to see BLK ODYSSY in this new light.

What is the most precious thing in your wardrobe?

I’ve got a chain with my brother’s face on it. It’s of my brother who passed away, my other brother Jordan got it for me for my birthday. 

Which living person do you most admire? 

My mother, easily. My mother is the most beautiful person. She instilled so many different values in me like compassion, empathy, love, tolerance and understanding, those have been the most valuable things that I possess as a person. I admire her more than any singer, athlete or politician. My mother, for sure.

If you could play any venue which one would it be? 

Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado. It’s a really magical venue. It’s in the side of a canyon and the sound reverberates naturally because of the geographics around it. It’s beautiful the way that the red rocks surround you. That venue is definitely on my bucket list.

Where are you happiest?

When I’m around family. When I’m around my brother’s kids, my mother, my father. You would think it would be the stage but realistically it’s living stress free with my family. 

What is your comfort meal?

Anything that’s soul food, the cuisine born during the Harlem renaissance. Mac and cheese, candied yams, collard greens, oxtail, those are my favourite comfort foods. It reminds me of a time where my people were being celebrated for the things they did in this country for the first time. This is when jazz was born and was the breeding ground for all the jazz artists we know and love today. Soul food means a lot to me and has actually played a big role in what we’re doing.

Who would play you in the story of your life?

I’d like to say Daniel Kaluuya, he’s one of my favourite actors right now. He embodies every character that he plays so well. By the end of my life, he’s the person I’d want to play me. Also, I just think that British actors are incredible. I don’t know what’s in the water out there but they’re sick. Damson Idris and Ashley Thomas (aka rapper Bashy) are incredible.

What’s one song that you’d like to listen to for the first time again?

I’d say Pink Matter by Frank Ocean. I remember hearing that song for the first time in high school and just losing my shit. It was like damn, this is unlike anything I’ve felt before while listening to music. 

An underrated song or artist that you love?

I wish more people listened to King Krule so that when I bring him up people aren’t like “what is that?” There’s a song called Slush Puppy that I love from him. 

The track that describes you best?

This is tough… It’s gotta be something by Rick James! Let’s go with Give It To Me Baby. His energy kind of embodies who I am right now. 

An album that you’d put in a time capsule?

I don’t wanna say one of my records so I would say either Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly or Funkadelic’s Maggot Brain. I would probably say To Pimp A Butterfly

A lyric that you love and the song it’s from?

Have you ever opened up Exodus 14, a humble man is all that we ever need” from How Much A Dollar Cost by Kendrick Lamar. That line always resonated with me and points back to lessons of humility and how we treat people. It’s about God coming to earth and judging us by how we treat others. A really beautiful concept.

A track that reminds you of a happy moment?

Seigfried from Frank Ocean’s album Blonde. I particularly remember at that time facing some depression but Frank’s album really lifted that for me. Also, Cigarette Daydreams by Cage the Elephant. It was around the time I started listening to alternative music and that song made me feel great all the time.

A song that you discovered recently that you love?

I just discovered this one this weekend and listened to it maybe 80 times in a row. The song is called Back Baby by Jessica Pratt. It’s such a beautiful track – her voice is full of nostalgia and reminds me of Corrine Bailey Rae or Valerie June. When I discover new music I play that song until I can’t bear to hear it again, then I’ll go and listen to the rest of the artist’s discography. 

Best record to get you out of a funk? 

I would say Mothership Connection by Parliament. 

What’s the last song you searched for on Spotify?

Million Dollar Baby by Tommy Richmond. It’s fire. Brent Faiyaz actually signed this artist.

A song you wish you wrote?

There’s the artistic side of that and the financial side, let’s see if I can find one that’s in the middle. I would say Billie Jean by Michael Jackson.

‘XXX’ by BLK ODYSSY featuring Wiz Khalifa is out now.

This Schon! online exclusive has been produced by

photography. Bethany Reed
talent. BLK ODYSSY
words. Shama Nasinde

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