Oxymorrons guide us through their debut album ‘Melanin Punk’, out now via Mascot Records.
“As the introduction to the album, we start with the story of Mel (short for Ramel, the melanin punk rocker). Entering the alternative rock space, he isn’t sure where he belongs and is just trying to be included, thus the “I’m not your enemy” hook while he tries to show that he’s there to be himself.
During the creative process of this record, we were hitting a wall with ideas, but a simple sub line from our producer Zach Jones jumpstarted our creativity. We all had this light bulb above the head idea, “what if we were able to perfectly mesh drill with metal”. The song evolved into this hybrid of the two with specific elements from each one that we felt fit the other. Drill sub bass, but not drill drums. Heavily distorted guitar, but a more punk feel for the pre-chorus. Straight bars during the verse, but a giant catchy chorus. We felt like we gave you the best of both worlds whilst still being ourselves.”
Last Call (ft. Troi Irons)
“Within Mel’s journey, this song is a moment where he is at his lowest. Like many people all over the world, he is choosing to find solace from the feeling of exclusion and non-acceptance at the bottom of a bottle. We wanted to be vulnerable with our listeners and speak to a common issue that impacts us either indirectly or directly. The recording approach was to sonically emphasize that feeling of aloneness and frustration, while also giving a light at the end of the tunnel.
We contradicted the somber piano ballad feel by throwing in the 808 bounce of hip-hop, and then giving the track a huge uplifting rock chorus. This record is something the band has had in the chamber since the beginning of the pandemic, which was a common global issue during 2020. We had wanted to collaborate with Troi for a while, so when it came to the hook, we knew their unique voice and timbre is what we needed to make this track the best it could be.”
“Mel’s experience in this song is him reflecting on the power of words. Quite literally, words can get you killed. Not just who you’re saying it to, but the words you put out into the universe. Given the laws of attraction, you can attract your own demise.
The track that you are hearing now came from so many different elements and genres, that it’s hard to fully describe. The drum and bass feel of the track originally was just in the bridge, but we loved the movement of how that felt so we decided to include it in the verses as well. The original chorus also started as an odd soul du-wop demo that we made into a harder rock chorus. It was a lot of back and forth, and we ultimately decided that we needed the song to keep a constant movement and be dynamic from beginning to end.”
Look Alive (Netic)
“In continuation with Mel’s journey, ‘Look Alive’ is showing his confidence in accepting who he is and screaming “I’m here to stay” from the rooftops. It’s a song about keeping your head up in troubling moments in your life, but keeping it on a swivel as well.
This track was pieced together in a fun way, with us putting together parts and phrases we liked as a puzzle. The whole song is activating so sonically we wanted to make sure that was included throughout. During the bridge specifically, we wanted the breakdown to mimic the revving up of a motor. The first half builds up tension and the second half reward the listener with release. Dee and K.I drew their inspirations for their verses and tone from Missy Elliot and Bad Bunny. It added a whole new dynamic to a track that was already dynamic. Lyrically, the one thing that we knew we had to include was the phrase “hard times get better.” In the song’s title, Netic is in parenthesis – a close friend and mentor the band lost during the recording process. While recording in L.A, not only were we mourning the loss of Netic, but we had received news that the block was hot back home in New York as well. This combination of these events fueled the creative direction of this song.”
Head for the Hills (ft. Kid Bookie)
“’Head for the Hills’ started with a kitchen sink beat that was behind the groove on purpose (a nod to J-Dilla on our end). The goal was to reference Tyler the Creator’s ‘Igor’ era, and bring it into the rock space. The track is full of grit. It’s unpolished and in your face aggression. It’s a trunk-rattling, custom speaker lowrider type song, which we like to call “black market music for the underbelly of New York.” You know, selling weed without a license bodega music. Sonically the rebellion of both hip-hop and punk is the ethos to the record. It’s ‘get the fuck out my face music’ in its purest form. Kid Bookie went off. He unleashed a British Marshal Mathers over a METAL BREAK DOWN. His cadence matched the snare patterns and fully attacked on top of the beat which was nuts. Couldn’t have asked for a more fun feature.”
“This song kickstarted what we wanted to achieve sonically and thematically with our debut LP. It was the first song of the first session we did when we went to LA to start fleshing out the full length. Hilariously enough, the birth of this track was during a rehearsal where the majority of the band were just dicking around. In the spirit of all things punk, we wanted to break all the rules of classic arrangement and just punch the listener in the face for two minutes of pure aggression.
The hook is a commentary on how many public figures who advocate for truth are silenced in our communities. The verses dive deeper into these subjects. For example, the prison pipeline system within our communities and our schools is very real and is a huge hindrance to our community’s ability to flourish. The song vocally criticizes the establishments and speaks to the commonality of the prejudice that we face from the government and the music industry alike. You can be a product of your circumstance, not just a product of your environment. It can be dangerous to know too much.”
Mike Shinoda Flow (ft. Hyro The Hero)
“We wanted to take a moment that was popular for a couple summers in hip-hop production and make it our own; the flute beat. There were an influx of artists like Future, Kendrick Lamar, Russ etc. that all had their own bangers including some sort of flute sample, and we wanted to do our own “oxy” version of it. In addition, we wanted to create a moment of just pure bars and no melodic vocal performance within the album. A track where Dee, K.I, and Hyro The Hero just go off.
The band wanted to tackle head on the common misconception that rapping is not as much of an admirable or respected art form as classic rock singing. It was a space to showcase their lyrical ability. Ironically, it was Mike Shinoda’s birthday, so we named it as such. In the spirit of sportsmanship, this song is an open invitation and challenge to all the MC’s and bands out here fusing rap and rock. If you got bars, let’s hear them!”
“Another common issue within our industry is getting the doctor’s recommended amount of sleep every evening. It’s so easily disregarded, but having rest is crucial to having success and longevity. What often comes with insomnia are bouts of mania, confusion, and burn-out. The sonics of the song mimic the phases of losing your mind due to lack of sleep. The song kicks of very punk and manic, has a sense of calm during the verses as one would try to wrangle their thoughts, then eventually implodes into total destruction with its outro. Fun fact, Dee was literally up at 3:00am writing his verse while him and Jafe were having a insomniatic episode on opposite coasts. Both of them helped each other cope through writing this song.”
Re-Up (ft. Kanner)
“We approached this record with Denzel Washington's movie ‘Inside Man’ in mind, but in the hood. The band created a movie in their head and ‘Re-Up’ is the title song credits. Our film focuses around a remorseless queen-pin that has a chokehold on the block. Too many times, this topic and scenario focuses on the male being the most powerful figure, and we wanted to flip the gender roles that are commonly associated with this topic in music and movies. On their verses, Dee and K.I took the opportunity to explore different tones, cadences, and vocal styles that fit within the context of the song. K.I gives us a very NYC Bobby Shmurda-esque approach, while Dee takes us on a flight to Memphis emulating the legendary Project Pat. Kanner comes in during the hook with a soaring chorus that musically resolves and compliments the unsettling vibes of the verses.”
“Our grand opus and the big embrace to round out not only Mel’s journey, but the listener’s as well. ‘Moonchasers’ is the happy ending to a film. We wanted to have a moment where we are not just speaking to our struggles, but expressing gratitude to our parents, mentors, and chosen family. We feel blessed and lucky to have the support of the people who raised us and influenced us, so the best way for us to showcase that is through our music. The song is very vulnerable for us, speaking of memories, simpler times, and how we got here. This is the only song on the album where happy major chords are used, and it’s done intentionally to round out the valleys and peaks of the album. We wanted to end the album on an optimistic note and truly say ‘no matter what goes down, pony boy you stay gold’.”
Oxymorrons’ debut album, ‘Melanin Punk’, is out now on Mascot Records.