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O.H.M. Has Meaning.

September 5, 2011

Text by Sofiya Ballin. Images by Dan Lidon.

The Arts Garage is quiet but there’s always calm before the storm.

Omar Samir Roper, better known as the rap artist O.H.M., takes a seat at a small table, his long dreadlocks hanging behind the chair, his hand clutching a sword.

Odd? Yeah. He knows.

“It has a purpose, known to myself,” says O.HM., who was one of the emcees featured on the very first R6 Cypher.

The performer, also an 18-year old political science major at Temple University, leaves it at that.

“I have a habit with things that frustrate me,” he continues. “I can’t leave them alone. And as I went through high school and I learned about our government and the political process, it pissed me off. I can’t ignore something that so glaringly offends me.”

People begin to arrive at the club. He points out a few cousins – most of the crowd are relatives.

“It’s entertaining to see how my mind works,” he says. “When I’m free-styling it’s a lot more fluid. I allow my mind to connect points, thoughts, and ideas. It’s interesting to hear information that I’ve never used before come up in my freestyle.”

He spent much of the summer preparing his debut EP, 10,000 Versus, the follow-up to his March mixtape, The Darker Nations.

Besides having an avid interest in politics and hip-hop, O.H.M. is also a poet.

“Rap and poetry have similar ancestral roots,” he says. “The core of both is that heart-to-heart dialogue to another person or a group of people.”

Suddenly a woman runs up and wraps her arms around him in a tight hug.

“My grandson is the best rapper,” Rita Lee exclaims, grinning broadly. “And I know he’ll put on a wonderful show. I am so excited!”

O.H.M’s phone rings. He answers sheepishly, “I’m doing an interview. Everyone I’ve ever known is walking up to me. It’s really awkward.”

As more people arrive and a jazz band begins to play, he begins to get more excited. In a few minutes he’ll open up for Cappadonna of Wu-Tang.

“It’s fucking awesome!” he says with a quick glance at his grandmother’s disapproving glare. “When I heard Wu-tang, they made me want to be good at rapping.”

The acronym O.H.M. stands for “Ohm has meaning” and the “Ohm” can be broken down infinitely, he says. The artist is as multi-faceted as his name – amongst all his other distinctive characteristics, he’s also been a practicing Buddhist his entire life.

“I practice Nichiren Daishonin, a form of Mahayana Buddhism,” he explains. “That’s not passive. It’s not about distancing yourself from the world but about becoming one with the world. And rapping is one of the most bodacious ways for me to do that.”

Click here to find our story about the mission of the R6 Cypher.

  1. Max Prime permalink
    September 6, 2011 12:23 am

    Awesome article, thanks Sofiya! Look out for 10,000 Verses around Christmas


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