Oompa recalls hip hop’s true spirit on November 3rd with beats you can feel, soul-driven melodies, and skillful wordplay of painfully honest experiences.

November 3rd is local artist Oompa’s debut album—a deeply confessional collection of songs over smooth soul beats. Through deadly rhymes Oompa tells honest stories of her day-to-day realities: grief, depression, discrimination, and self-sabotage.

 

As an accomplished slam poet, Oompa raps with measured control and precise delivery, portraying intense visuals. In the first verse of “Take Me Back” she sings, “I’m feelin’ Tim Burton with this bourbon / Kinda sleepy, kinda hollow.” Using a double entendre by referencing the Tim Burton film to describe her somber relationship with alcohol, for her an anesthetic with diminishing returns. In contrast to the heavy-hearted lyrics, the beat actually provides a little fun as it samples the legendary hook from “Back in the Day” by Ahmad, one the genre’s most classic summer block party jams.

Oompa is truly a voice of the people, describing herself as “forever representing the queer, black, orphaned, hood kids, and them.” This comes through on the song “Your Girl,” where she describes the sadness and frustration of having a romantic relationship with a woman who won’t acknowledge her sexuality. With layered lines like, “I’ve got this girl / She love me / And she don’t like girls,” Oompa is helping normalize this important topic through storytelling.

The album maintains a steady burning fire throughout, but the feeling for the both listener and the artist actually boils in the third verse of “Dear Mama”—perhaps the most intense song of the entire album. Oompa confesses her wish to have turned down her college scholarship so she could have spent more time with her mom in the moments before her death: You wouldn’t of had to call me, I could’ve seen you then / but I ignored you to make a team that couldn’t win / To see you alive one more time or never again / At least then I’d have some closure I could settle with.”

Her regret is tangible in these lyrics as she lets her pain take the wheel, hitting the gas and speeding up her tempo to a point where she’s almost out of breath on this delivery of desperation, calling out to the universe for a do-over that she knows she’ll never get. Trying to listen to this song without having to go get some air is impossible.

What’s great about Oompa is her ability to share her pain with the listener in a way that humanizes both of you. The lyric, “Seeing Missy E. and Andre 3 up on the TV screen / If they see me today / Wasted like my potential / Lord I wonder what they say?” Oompa’s talent and “potential” as she describes it is certainly not wasted on this album. We all have something to gain by listening.