KHIRY oviim is a nomadic emcee based in the burgeoning DMV area. Drawing on inspiration from the five states and eight cities of his childhood, oviim demonstrates a very unique lyrical visor alongside witty wordplay.
Stop The Breaks had the pleasure of interviewing oviim on his come up, struggles, musical influences, the state of hip-hop today, grinding as an independent hip-hop artist and plenty more.
1) Tell us a little about yourself and your background.
My name is KHIRY oviim and I am a 90’s baby. I live in the DMV area as of now, but I am originally from Fairborn, OH, having been born on Wright Patterson Air Force Base. While growing up I moved around a lot, influencing my aesthetic and approaches all-the-while.
By the time I was 14-years-old I had lived in five different states and eight different cities and finally settled in Silver Spring, MD circa August 2010 for my high school years.
My nomadic upbringing gave way for my new life moniker, KHIRY oviim, with ‘KHIRY’, my government name, and ‘oviim’ symbolizing the five states that hold pieces of my childhood: Ohio, Virginia, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland. In that order.
2) Who were some of your musical influences coming up?
When I was a young boy I listened to a lot of jazz riding around Ohio with my grandparents. During my adolescence came a gold mine of music when my father gave me his iPod putting me onto Golden Era hip-hop, rock ’n’ roll, and alternative music.
People who I can say I observed and wanted to emulate characteristics of include Bryan McKnight, who is actually my cousin by marriage, James Brown for his overall brand experience, Eminem for his unparalleled honesty and presentation in his craft, The xx for saving my life, and MGMT for showing me my new life.
3) You recently opened up a GoFundMe page as a way to get financial support for your career – talk to me about that.
Upon being kicked out of my home, I had nothing but a suitcase and bags of clothes, some papers, and a myriad of other debris. It was all too convenient. My job hadn’t scheduled me in almost three weeks and I guess my father and step-mother were just tired of watching me do seemingly nothing with my life.
I started my GoFundMe to seek aid in getting back on my feet and to help facilitate a stable means of sustaining my own independence, not necessarily to fund my career. It felt odd to me at first because I haven’t been conditioned to ask for things, even when the going gets very tough.
I’ve been homeless times before this when I was with my biological mother, living in cars and homeless shelters at times. My mother never asked, she just did.
What I had to realize when my father stopped believing in me was that asking others for help, honestly, was my way of doing. I let the people know that I am at their mercy and the people spoke back. It takes a village!
4) How would you describe yourself as an artist? Has your style changed much over the years?
I would describe myself as an enigmatic orchestrator. I was born into a family of visual artists, first and foremost, and into a family of musical genius by marriage. Naturally my approach became to stimulate my stream of creativity in one medium via another.
For example, if I am writing lyrics and get writer’s-block, I begin to sketch, or produce, or paint. My art is a continuum across any and all things allowing me to utilize them as a canvas. And that is an idea with limitations shaped by personal perspective so ideally any and everything can be a canvas. I try to tap into people’s subconscious drives and stimulate their senses.
This is why it is my end goal to establish a design agency with sub facets for each of the senses to specifically target and convey my brand through. I try to give people a trip without tripping and bridge the gap between psychedelia and a normal functioning society.
I want people to think and understand through to harmonious equilibrium in their lives. My style has not changed but more so come to fruition over the years.
5) What are you thoughts on the current state of hip-hop music today?
I will separate my answers regarding this topic so as not to confuse the actual overarching culture of hip-hop with rap which is only one pillar of said culture.
I am very excited for the current state of music overall because rap is moving into the larger zeitgeist to the point where people want to be rap stars now as much as they wanted to be rock stars back in the day.
And the music is transforming. The future of music is blending genres and hip-hop provided the universal glue with rap in my opinion.
Now to speak to hip-hop as a culture, I believe that hip-hop is undergoing a watershed transformation sparked on a world stage by the Drake v. Meek Mill incident.
You have a culture that is deeply rooted in authenticity, fact-checks, and braggadocio slowly morphing into a more artistically cultivated culture wherein collaborations in place of things that should be authentic (like lyrics) are becoming commonplace and accepted.
I am an artist first before I am a hip-hop artist so I don’t mind collaborative efforts between artists, even in hip-hop, so long as they convey that to the general public so that they understand and don’t respond with ignoramus backlash.
6) What’s the toughest thing about being an independent artist grinding on your own?
The toughest thing I would consider about being on your own grind is being sound in your decisions amidst all of the things happening in and around your life that could make make you feel uncertain about yourself. You have to act and know that you are acting toward progressing yourself.
7) If you could change one thing about the music industry to help indie artists like yourself be successful, what would it be?
I would make communication easier. The difference between a Fetty Wap come up or a Torey Lanez style of brand-building over time could be one phone call or e-mail even.
8) What music are you listening to these days? Anyone in hip-hop really blowing your mind?
I listen to a lot of EDM reminiscent rap, and music outside of rap that borrow elements of rap. I’m the type of person that if I want to do something then I look as far away from it as possible to see how making it that way could create something new and innovative.
In rap I listen to a lot of trap artists now which is a change from my previous self. I have been coming more and more in touch with my childhood of living in impoverished projects and hoods across the Midwest and I can really relate to the music.
It’s like Chaz French always says, it’s the struggle that made us.
9) If you could work with any artist you wanted, what would be your dream collaboration?
Eminem, The xx, Chance the Rapper, Mac Miller, MGMT, Jai Paul, Oshi, and FKA Twigs. I would cry.
10) What has been the best moment in your music career so far?
Life is the best right now, I can’t complain. I’ve got the wind beneath my wings!
11) So what’s next for you?
More music and more enigmatically expressive artworks to manifest.