Onry Ozzborn: Versed in DUO

by HALEE HASTAD

Onry Ozzborn has been rapping for a long time. Twenty-eight years, to be exact.

“I don’t really know how to do anything else,” he said in a recent interview.

And that’s okay, because he seems to be pretty comfortable, not to mention versed, with the whole music-making thing.

Ozzborn turned 40 years old last month, was born in New Mexico, has lived in Seattle since 1999, and is the father of two children. An easy guy to talk to — he speaks slow and confident. His responses to questions are short, but meaningful. A reflection of his music style, surely.

His move to Seattle was inspired by what he considered a laid-back environment. Unlike New York or Los Angeles, Seattle seemed to covet a unique rap scene that was focused more on the music and less on the material things or aspects of competition, he said.

“There is no way to describe the sound of this area,” Ozzborn said. “Because everyone does something different and comes into the industry with a unique sound and flavor.”

The important part, he said, is that most of the artists in the area show real support for each other.

His latest work, DUO, is straight to the point. He raps about his own life, the experiences that have shaped his perceptions of the world around him and the everyday challenges we can all relate to. Each track  on the album features himself working with an artist who has been a long-time inspiration, friend, or both. The project began five years ago and tracks the transformations that have taken place in his life along the way.

It was important to give DUO proper time to grow and evolve, he said. The process was relatively simple; make the beats and write the songs, then let them sit and marinate. Each track was complete with Ozzborn’s part before the other artists came on and added their own persuasions. This was a way to incorporate his style while allowing featured artists to add their own interpretations to the tracks.

The moods of Kimya Dawson are included on the album, along with Asap Rocky, one of his longtime friends, and Rob Sonic.

“Honestly, Rob has one of the best verses I’ve ever heard,” he said. Quite the compliment, showing that Ozzborn isn’t just in it for himself, but supports those who he works with and alongside.

The album was recorded at Momentum Studios in Portland, a studio that he and “the crew” started in 2004.

DUO has been in stores since April 29 and was released online earlier last month along with a 15-minute film featuring parts of each track on the album.

It’s cool, really, and following a trend that rap and hip-hop circles have been catching over the past couple of years. No longer does a music video seem complete without a pseudo-cinematic introduction and conclusion, which inspired Ozzborn’s production of the film.

“I wanted people to be able to listen to the album while watching it as well,” he said. “Almost like a DJ mixing the entire piece as a visual version.”

Keeping up with the transformations of one’s craft is not always easy, especially when you have been a part of the scene for decades. But, Ozzborn is doing just that — keeping up. He said that his style has gone from being oriented around quantity to being focused on producing less work that is of better quality.

When asked how many albums he has produced his answer was simple.

“Too many.”

LIVE SHOW: See Onry Ozzborn at The Shakedown on May 21 along with Wool see, Graves 33, Myke Bogan, Mostafa and Faculty. For more information about Onry, go to facebook.com/onry.ozzborn. 

Published in the May 2016 issue of What’s Up! Magazine