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Heavy Culture: Oxymorrons on Queens Upbringing, Haitian Heritage, and Fighting Stereotypes

"Genres divide -- once you put something in a box, you have now contained it and stopped it from growing."

Oxymorrons - Heavy Culture
Oxymorrons, photo by Tommy Vo
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    Heavy Culture is a monthly column from journalist Liz Ramanand, focusing on artists of different cultural backgrounds in heavy music, as they offer their perspectives on race, society, and more as it intersects with and affects their craft. The latest installment of this column features Deee and KI of the band Oxymorrons.

    Oxymorrons are keeping busy in 2022. After kicking off the year on the ShipRocked cruise, the band is currently wrapping up a tour with Grandson and Royal & The Serpent.

    Heavy Consequence recently caught up with brothers Deee and KI of Oxymorrons to discuss all things music and culture. The vocalists spoke candidly about their upbringing in Queens, New York, their Haitian roots, and how that shaped who they are and their music. They also discussed their 2021 release, the EP Mohawks & Durags.

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    Following their current tour, Oxymorrons will join up with Set It Off for two dates in New York and Philadelphia in April. In May, they’ll be part of the Welcome to Rockville lineup in Florida, and in July they will be performing at Ohio’s Inkcarceration festival. The band is also slated to play Louder Than Life, which will take place in Louisville in September. Keep track of their upcoming shows and pick up tickets here.

    Check out our “Heavy Culture” interview with Deee and KI of Oxymorrons below.

    Talk a little bit about where you guys grew up in Queens and how the borough helped shaped your music.

    Deee: We wouldn’t be who we are without Queens. It’s where we grew up. I was born in Haiti and my parents came to this country; I came slightly after, and my brother [Ki] was born in America. He was actually born in Brooklyn. My dad, assuming he was upgrading our lives, decided to buy a house in Jamaica, Queens. He got swindled and got to see the neighborhood in the daytime, not knowing that the neighborhood could turn. We’ve got a house in Jamaica, Queens, not too far from the “40 Projects” [South Jamaica Houses] that’s one of the wildest parts of Queens.

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    Growing up in a household was different because me my brother — we’re blood brothers, we always have to explain to people that we’re literal brothers, same mom, same dad – we were just always different. We were exposed to different things. My dad would play Lionel Richie records, all types of music, everything under the sun. Our older brother was playing Metallica, so it’s not a coincidence that we created music like this because everything in our earlier lives pointed that way.

    KI: We were massive MTV babies, where we would just watch a bunch of like music videos, back then when MTV would play videos and they would show all different types of genres and sounds. We listened to Daft Punk growing up, Nirvana, and watching those music videos, which was mad. But then we grew up literally in our neighborhood were people like Lost Boyz, Onyx, 50 Cent, they were like people that we knew that actually made it in hip-hop. So for us, it was always the melting pot of everything. Like we would go a few blocks down and my friends were skateboarding. That was our diversity and when you hear our sound, that just naturally comes out because we are living proof of that.

    D: Being from Queens in that aspect – it’s the most diverse, there’s so much history. So when If you’re breeding anything musically out of Queens, most of it is diverse and most of it is one of a kind like, especially in the hip hop space and in the alt space – we’re a marriage of both.

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    K: I love Queens. I love the energy of Queens. You could walk down a few blocks and experience so many different cultures and environments. There are so many beautiful things you can find in Queens. A lot of time people don’t come out due to the fact that they are scared to take a bus or some of the train lines are separate from Queens. You can literally go down any street and find any type of food from any culture around the world. When it comes to music, there’s so much beautiful talent but there aren’t a lot of music venues in Queens to showcase that. So anyone from Queens has to travel far just to make anything happen, but that’s part of the hustle and the grind. That’s the Queens way.

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