A Hip-Hop Bromance: Getting To Know OverDoz.
Coolness is a drug you can’t find by the ounce in hip-hop but Los Angeles-based group OverDoz. has their own supply. Hailing from the same streets as N.W.A., OverDoz. tackles the Internet and America’s trendiest topics, like the Meek-Drake feud or the nation’s fight against racial injustice, from a different perspective. Rarely at a loss for words, the hip-hop group that some—like this guy named Pharrell—would dub the next OutKast is trying to make light of everything.
— Pharrell Williams (@Pharrell) July 7, 2015
“It’s just about being cool and chilling—knowing what’s cool to talk about and people not being so serious about it,” says the group’s lone singer, Kent Jamz, who rocked a New York Yankees cap and gold chain with the number “7” dangling around his neck during OD’s trip to VIBE HQ. “We make darker situations lighter, not necessarily by trying to be corny about the situation. We have a video. Perfect example, “Rich White Friends.” It’s about racism but it’s not saying one side is better than any side. All we were saying was at frat parties, if this were to happen, 90 percent of the time, this is what would happen in that instance.”
The “Rich White Kids” visual emphasizes racial stereotypes and then flips them. In the Calmatic-directed video, black men try to study while white fraternity brothers party next door. One of OverDoz.’s three rappers, Cream, plays a key role by drawing viewers to the social message. Kent Jamz wears an upside-down American flag on his bulletproof vest and goes, “My white friends say n***as more than I do,” referring to an issue Cream doesn’t think needs as much attention as it gets. “There’s way more sh*t going on,” he says.
Current events keep OverDoz. talking. Extending the vibes that OutKast and N.E.R.D. gifted hip-hop, the group still stays “normal” by smoking weed, playing video games, and music-binging together. Their chemistry stems from childhood when six-year-old Cream met four-year-old Kent Jamz. The two also went to high school with rapper Casey Veggies. YouTube star Joon met Jamz after bonding over matching baseball cleats and Cream while playing video games. P, the third rapper in the rap quartet, met Jamz at a recording studio. Their circles clashed when their fathers took them to baseball meets.
“I’m not ashamed to say me and the three other people in this room are cool,” said Jamz. “You know corny people within the first five minute, rude motherf**kers within the first two minutes, and you know cool people within the first 10 minutes.”
Ten minutes was enough to cement a seven-year bond among the boys, who made OverDoz. official in 2008. These days, they finish each other’s sentences. They can make fun of Cream for his messiness on tour while laughing at their own. They can argue over who takes the longest to get ready or who’s the wildest and most daring with nothing but smiles. Hence, why every studio session becomes therapy as they trade life stories for up to five hours at a time. “If I’m not going through something, I know that after we talk—it’s either something funny, deep, or romantic, or nasty—something they say is going to click like we had a song,” Jamz says before launching into OverDoz.’s “FSWSAD” to make an example. “‘I wish i could f**k, drink, sleep, and smoke weed all day.’ You might think that’s funny. That [song] was from convo.”
Another reason why their bromance stays lyrically in tact: They avoid the beef despite their upbringing. “We came from a gang environment where we see tough n***as really be b*tches,” Joon says. Still, you won’t find them following the wave. When hip-hop was crowded with gimmicky trap music, OverDoz. debuted “F**k Yo DJ,” the anti-trap trap song. The group’s playful style adds a cleverness that today’s FM rotation lacks. The same applies to their unique beats, a product of diverse influences. After giving his blessing, Pharrell even teamed up with them for their single “Last Kiss.”
“I listen to a lot of old music, like old sh*t, like old groovy sh*t,” says P. “That’s why it was tight that Pharrell brought the bassline that he brought to the songs he did. It brought me back to the sh*t I used to like and he still keep them all relevant.” Joon adds that he loves country music, Tame Impala, and Foster the People. Kent Jamz looked towards Slum Village and Snoop Dogg. Overdoz. keeps on collecting sounds, and even has some Miguel collaborations in the stash.
These new @Miguel songs are crazy! NWA is on repeat. Can't wait for you guys to hear him on 2008.
— OverDoz. (@overdoz) June 22, 2015
Seven years in, fans remain just as addicted to OverDoz., who started their movement with their collars popped and the coined term, “Dest.” Cream says it describes a feeling and an attitude his group mates possess. “We was watching janky promoters at the time before [the term] really came out. This one dude said, “MEDEST,” and it was so comedy. I ain’t about to be saying “medest” all the time so we bumped it down. Just ‘dest.’” Neither fans nor Urban Dictionary can describe what the word means, but that does not stop people from hashtagging, screaming it aloud at shows or printing it on their t-shirts.
Whatever it means, Jamz looked like “dest” as he bobbed his head to OverDoz.’s upcoming album, 2008. Every track on their forthcoming LP is head-bobbing music with the beats as chill as him, P, Joon, and Cream. 2008 is like an enhancement drug you keep feigning for. An uncontrollable euphoria. For OverDoz., hip-hop doesn’t have to be hard. It’s easygoing.—Kathryn E. Jones