If you were anywhere other than The Sinclair, Cambridge, MA, on August 10th, then you missed what was undoubtedly the most epic display of passion, talent and the vast reminder that dreams do come true!
Roxbury’s own, Oompa, debuted her sophomore album, Cleo, to a diverse audience of 300+ at the popular standing room only venue. Oompa, a rapper, poet and educator, graced the stage with a live band as her backdrop, an assortment of east coast talent—Red Shaydez, Tides, Benji & Jefe Replay— and a media instillation that took the 90’s classic Set It Off and turned it’s “survival by any means necessary” theme into an anthem of perseverance.
In an age where sharing every experience is made effortless through social media, hits such as, Feel Like Cole, Joy Back, By You and Order My Steps, snapped, tweeted and flooded timelines as listeners rocked flannel shirts and Oompa branded bandana’s, hung on to every word. When Oompa began rapping the fan favorite, Your Girl, from her freshman album November 3rd, the crowd erupted in true hip hop fashion as the charismatic artist presented the perfect balance of humility and swag.
Oompa, who speaks openly about her struggles with poverty, loss and the child protection system, bravely confronts the affects of trauma, disappointment and the need to take control of one’s own destiny in a way that offers hope where it would not otherwise exist. The audience embarked on a self-reflective journey while discovering the art of finding joy where pain was once a relentless squatter.
Oompa’s love for Roxbury, Boston’s geographical center and a neighborhood once described as the “heart of Black culture,” is reflective throughout her music as well as through her vow to buy back the “Bury.”
Her signature “Rox” hat is just one of the many ways Oompa pays homage to a community that has seen her at her lowest and is certainly witnessing her rise to greatness.
As I stood observing the countless spectators rapping along, dancing and even cheering as Oompa pulled her two young nephews on stage, it became utterly clear that I was watch history in the making. This was not the performance of someone “up and coming” but rather the unveiling of someone who had already arrived.
Oompa, a self-proclaimed “chubby girl,” transcends the multiverse through body-positivity and the recognition that self-love is the first love. Oompa appeals to hood kids everywhere, the LGBTQ community, the parentless, the ones who seek family in every space, the loved, the heartbroken, the defeated and the Phoenix that finds the strength to spread their wings and fly.
There came a point in the show where I began to wonder where Oompa’s journey will take her a year from now. This stage and many alike, have been the rocket that sends artists soaring. It affirms that the sky is no longer the limit but rather the platform in which all dreams launch.
Oompa’s Cleo and November 3rd, are certainly albums you should keep in heavy rotation. In a society that preys on weakness of others, Oompa reminds listeners that we worthy of everything and everything we shall receive.
If you are like me, you’ll be following Oompa’s journey closely and spreading the word to anyone who will listen. To learn more about Oompa and the wonderful things she’s doing or to book her for your next big event, check her out at www.oompoutloud.com