O2worldwide is Taking Oklahoma Global
Article by Michael Balangue
O2worldwide is a group of 15 songwriters, producers, rappers, photographers, and other multifaceted creators based out of Oklahoma City, all within the ages of 18-20. They released their new album, BACK ON TRACK, on February 17th, 2021. The album has already gotten placements on big Spotify playlists, such as Fresh Finds, and led to features on outlets like Lyrical Lemonade and Ebro’s radio show, but O2worldwide is just getting started. Bradley Ombachi (rapper, co-founder, and the group’s main producer), Ethan Wilson (aka The DarkskinRapper, rapper and co-founder), Keshun Maddox (rapper), Lena Assef (vocalist and songwriter), James Joyce (rapper), Carlos Jackson (aka Los, rapper), and Zack Frye (the group’s manager) discussed their organic beginnings, unapologetically nostalgic sound, and embodying the next generation of Oklahoman creativity over a Saturday morning Zoom call. Surprisingly, this was the group’s first interview, hopefully kicking off O2’s rocket launch to global stardom.
O2worldwide was founded by Ethan Wilson and Bradley Ombachi, who started making music together at Ombachi’s house in 2018.
“Bradley would make beats and I would freestyle over them, and later on we started making songs,” Ethan recounted.
Shortly thereafter the group grew, serving as a fun way to hang out and be creative; the collective’s name comes from the fact that the young duo were both born in 2002. “We weren’t taking stuff seriously,” Ombachi said. “We were just hanging out, making music and dropping it on Soundcloud. It started to do well, and we realized we might be onto something.”
O2worldwide is wholly original, taking the best pieces of their influences from hip-hop groups of the past and incorporating them into their own genre-blurring sound. James offered a simple three word description of that sound: “It’s nostalgic music.”
For a group so young, nostalgia may represent something different than it would to an older listener. James expanded, “[Nostalgia] is our first sound, like you’ve gotta be there for this moment. Shit, I wish I could’ve experienced ‘90’s rap, but you’ve gotta be alive in this time to experience O2worldwide.”
His reply showed that O2worldwide has done something incredibly unique: they’ve taken nostalgia, a feeling inherently associated with the past, and rooted it firmly in their music of the present.
O2worldwide is a product of Edmond, a suburb outside of Oklahoma City. While admitting that Oklahoma isn’t known as a particularly creative place, the group views the next generation of Oklahoma-based artists as a treasure that just needs to be uncovered.
“There’s not many people doing the stuff we do in Oklahoma, but being in Oklahoma made us who we are. We want to put on for Oklahoma as a state,” Ethan explained.
Lena included, “Oklahoma is a cool creative vessel because it forces people to listen when you say you’re out of Oklahoma, rather than just another collective out of a big city like LA.”
“That’s kinda true,” Ombachi replied, “We don’t have a regional sound. Other cities have very distinct sounds that are easy to fit into,” Ombachi said of Oklahoma necessitating a kind of self-driven creativity.
“For people around our age, they’re expecting trap,” Keshun said. “For the mommas, we’ve got family music, music you’d play at family functions. But we got a little bit of everything for everybody. We can make anything we want man, shit!”
Zack pointed out that Oklahoma’s geographical positioning allows it to defy constraint: “Oklahoma’s in the middle of a Venn diagram that allows [Oklahoma artists] to combine different elements to create an Oklahoma sound.”
Looking forward, O2 continues to move as a family unit. The collective is determined not to let the pandemic or geographic separation hinder their trajectory.
“We’re not always with each other, but when we link it’s like nothing’s changed,” Los expressed. “The chemistry is just natural.”
The young, determined group has big ambitions for where they see themselves in five years.
“At the fucking top!” Ombachi said. “Hopefully at the fucking Grammy’s, doing wild shit that n***as from Oklahoma haven’t done before,” Ombachi proclaimed.
James suggested living in the U.K. Ombachi countered with Japan. It’s clear that O2 is hungry to live up to their name and bring the sound of Oklahoma worldwide, and by all accounts they’re ready for liftoff.