OJO is an Austin-based rap group with undeniable chemistry. Formed in early 2020 the members include Nicholas Whipps, 00Slevin, and Vontay Galaxy.
We met OJO (virtually) and discussed projects, influences, and purple stuff. After nearly one year without performing live, the OJO boys put their lungs to some serious hard work on their previous South By South Depressed, a live stream showcase presented by CHHK & ATX Social Club. The hip-hop supergroup was scheduled to play the official SXSW in 2020. “We were pretty disappointed by losing the official SXSW. We were still very new to the game and it seemed so perfect. We were working really hard, putting a lot of music out there, shooting music videos, so that would have been nice to be noticed” says Nicholas.
Nicholas mixes and produces all of OJO’s music. He creates the beats at his home studio and he’s also the “I want that purple stuff” guy.
Who inspired you to make music? Is your family musical?
00slevin: No one in my family was really musical that I know of, It’s just something I always wanted to do as a child. Michael Jackson and his performances were my biggest inspiration and I loved to play rock and roll, hip hop – all different types of music really. Yeah, no one in the family but I just enjoy music, always loved it and I wanted to play.
Vontay Galaxy: Kinda the same goes for me. No one in my immediate family. I recently found out that my grandmother’s youngest brother played in a few bands when he was younger. Besides that, just growing up music was always in front of my face. I remember watching the MTV music videos all the time before school. I always loved music. I feel like music is a small-time capsule where you can always look back and kind of remember where you were, so music has always been something deeper for me.
Nicholas Whipps: Nobody in my immediate family was musical either. I was sort of influenced to start playing guitar when I was six years old and I played in church pretty much until I was 17. I wrote my first song when I was very young, about eight or nine years. I was always very inspired by the great songwriters. I listened to the Beatles, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, people like that.
So, tell me more about OJO?
Nicholas Whipps: We all met through local shows and liked each other’s style of music. I think we each saw a little bit of ourselves in each other. We met up one day to record our first song which is called “New”. New was the first video we ever dropped and that was the same day that we decided to create a group. We were always making jokes about ‘ojo’ in the Latino community. ‘Mal de ojo’ is the power of the evil eye; to not actually put hexes on people but just kind of give people the stink eye or wish them bad energy. So we’d always joke with each other “Hey man, you can give me ojo, I can tell it. I feel it.” And we felt like that would be a good name for a rap group.
Where have you performed?
00slevin: It’s been mostly here in Austin, San Marcos, and Laredo. Nick is from Laredo, it is his hometown. Laredo has always been awesome, great energy, good crowd.
If you could open the show for any artist who would it be?
Vontay Galaxy: I think, Griselda has always been one, Kevin Gates. Before he died, I think Nipsey would have been really cool to open for, just seeing how much structure he put into his personal brand and how loyal his fans were. And we always talked about wanting loyal fans and never wanting to be just hot for the moment.
What makes OJO unique?
Nicholas Whipps: As simple as it sounds – we’ve always kind of gone into this with the mindset of, what if we make something really good, you know? For me personally, as a music fan I enjoy all genres of music. I enjoy pop music, you-name-it, I can get behind anything. I feel like the music that really impacts people is the kind where you can feel the effort that the artists put in. So, I think what makes OJO unique is our music takes a little bit longer to cook but it tastes better. It’s kind of like an old-school approach in a new game. It’s fine because it’s just kind of the way things are, but it seems like hip-hop music especially is more disposable than ever. The songs are shorter and the approach isn’t what it used to be. I think what has kept our fans around is our approach, like the old school feel of a hip hop group. If you listen to our music, you’ll hear a good mix of new sounds and old-school boom-bap. We all like to sing as well; three is stronger than one. We all share the input into each track and I think it shows in the sound.
Nicholas Whipps: As simple as it sounds, we’ve always kind of got into it with a mindset of, what if we make something really good, you know?And I, as a music fan, I enjoy all music, I enjoy pop music, you-name-it. I can get behind anything but I feel like this, stuff that really impacts people is music you can feel the extra effort that went into it. So, I think what makes OJO unique is it takes a little bit longer to cook but it tastes better. It’s kind of like an old-school approach in a new game. And it’s fine because it’s just kind of the way things are, but it seems like especially Hip-Hop music is more disposable than ever, the songs are shorter, the approach is way different than what it used to be. I think what has kept our fans around is the group approach, like the old school feel of a hip hop group, if you listen to our music you’ll hear a good mix of new sounds and just kind of old-school boom-bap stuff. We all like to sing as well. 3 is stronger than 1. We all have really good input into the product and I think that shows.
What are you working on right now as a group and individually?
00slevin: Actually when we released the OJO project last year we were already getting stuck-in to it’s follow-up. So during this time, we recorded a bunch of tracks together and are currently working on a bunch of stuff individually. We all have come from different but similar backgrounds; I used to play in metal bands, Nick played rock n roll, Vontay has been rapping and singing. We all kind of share that. I am working on a hip hop project and a rock project and I know Nick and Vontay are working on some new work now.
Vontay Galaxy: Shout out to Nick and 00Slevin. They have both worked a lot longer than me and 00Slevin has been on some world tours playing in a rock band, I am trying to catch up and fill my portfolio. I will release a new project soon so I’m trying to put more work out there. But as far as 00Slevin was saying; if we really wanted to we probably could drop a whole album. We are trying to focus on making this project something to live with. If we put it out today we hope people can still play it 20 years from now and be like “Damn! These OJO boys were up to something back in 2021”.
Nicholas Whipps: Definitely! On New year’s day I dropped my solo project called ‘Never’. That’s kind of the beauty of the group because we will always consult with each other. There are no rules but we each make sure we are all up to date with what we are working on. We can ultimately use the OJO platform to push what we are also working on individually and I think it strengthens the brand because it’s all done under the OJO umbrella. That’s the beauty of the group. It can get tedious at times but while we are working as a unit, we are also nurturing our solo careers.
What’s next in your career?
Nicholas Whipps: We just released a video for the new OJO single. It’s a song we had done last year in February, it’s called Bohemian RapCity. We have a funny idea, we want to start naming our songs after popular songs, like Stairway to Heaven. What if someone finds our music looking for something else?
Now, why, “I want that purple stuff”?
Nicholas Whipps: It’s complicated! It’s my signature during one of my songs or someone else’s song, it means – “I made the beat”. That means it came from us. It is actually from Dave Chappelle. I thought that was so perfect and in Texas hip-hop culture, people drink it for recreation. It’s like a street drug and it’s purple so we call it that purple stuff drink or whatever.
Not only are the OJO boys extremely talented and respectful of good music, but they all share an excellent sense of humor. We eagerly expect more live concerts and new music from them. Check out OJO online now!