BLK ODYSSY: Love versus Lust

“Welcome to ‘Diamonds& Freaks,’ an erotic novel of love and lust, shall we start with Chapter One – ‘Dopamine & Hennessy’?”

Steering listeners into the sultry sonic experience of BLK ODYSSY‘s highly-anticipated sophomore album, ‘Diamonds & Freaks,‘ Keisha Plum, spoken word artist from a rap collective Griselda, takes the reigns of introducing this conceptual, desire-fuelled project. 

Austin-based artist BLK ODYSSY relishes his storytelling to challenge societal norms and deliver more taboo topics with the accompanying dose of R&B, soul, hip-hop, funk & pop. ‘Diamonds & Freaks’ dissects the varying tiers of a man’s lustful addictions with four chapters – introduction, celebration, self-awareness, and state of realisation. 

With over 50 million streams, BLK ODYSSY utilises his moniker and immense talents to narrate his thoughts, insights, and observations on “black culture”  – the journey of all facets of black existence. His critically acclaimed debut album, ‘BLK VINTAGE,’ introduced him to the scene with the project’s critique on what it means to be black in America with a further discussion on trauma and grief. 

BLK ODYSSY’s soulful narrations are authentic, honest, and thought-provoking. His talent goes beyond one-to-watch credentials and comes closer to being in the same arena as Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole. Read our interview and see for yourself. 

Do you remember when you discovered your voice?

I discovered it, along with my ability to mimic tones and understand harmonies, in the back of my dad’s Volvo in the early 2000s.

Was it a straightforward “I want to be an artist” moment, or more of an inner-monologue conflict?

Wanting to be an artist came more in high school. I’m not sure what the switch was. I found myself knee-deep in it around 2015 and decided it was what I wanted to study. Even through flunking out of college, my drive grew more and more.

If you wouldn’t be a musician, what do you think you would be?

Cinematography, film directing, or acting.

A more complex question: what is your stance on one’s purpose? Do you have one, and do you think it is imperative for all of us to find one? Or are you more of a “go with the flow” kind of person?

To me, it’s always important to find purpose, even if you may consider it small. It’s all a part of a larger picture and gives us reasons to live beyond ourselves, which I think is important for humanity.

What is the meaning behind your stage name?

BLK ODYSSY means the black journey. It has a couple of meanings behind it, but the two main reasons are the term “black” in correlation to sight—the journey you can’t see, the journey led by faith and not by sight. And also, BLK represents “black culture,” the journey of all facets of black existence.

What are some of the most valuable lessons you put into practice when it comes to your emotional maturity and communication as a man?

Self control, self love, patience, and valuing your own peace

On your debut album ‘BLK VINTAGE,’ you touched upon grief, trauma, and critiqued what it means to be black in America. What was the main message of this project, and what did you want to leave people with after listening to it?

This project primarily focused on addiction and the duality of love and lust—the differences, similarities, and the grey areas in between that make it hard to differentiate.

When ‘Diamonds & Freaks’ was still a blank page, what was the creative process like coming up with the album’s concept and its erotica influences?

Most of this record started with an immense amount of self-reflection and bringing my own personal vices to the forefront.

Why did you want to make an album with open sexual anecdotes and references?

I like to constantly challenge social norms and what’s comfortable. I like to play with taboo topics in my music. I think all great artists challenge societal norms, and I want to continue doing that too.

What made you choose Bootsy Collins and spoken-word artist Keisha Plum for the album’s narration?

They both have such a distinct character to them. I see music visually, and they felt like two prominent voices that would really carry the story home.

The project is divided into four chapters; could you introduce and describe each chapter and its role in the overall sonic novel?

Chapter 1 sets the scene. Chapter 2 celebrates addiction and shows the perspective from the inside looking out. Chapter 3 is the chapter of self-awareness, and Chapter 4 simply is a reflective state where you realize the difference between love and lust.

What are some must-haves in your sex playlist?

Haha, I haven’t had a sex playlist since my senior year in high school. But at the time, it was The Trilogy by The Weeknd, “Take Care,” “Pink Matter” by Frank Ocean, and “Lovers Only” by Maxwell. If I did have one now, it would probably be 70s soul.

One of your singles, ‘ODEE,’ follows a story of jewellery dealers being robbed by a heist of women exploring the concept of transactional sex. If you could make this into a full-length movie, who would be your first picks for actors, director, and who would you collaborate with on the soundtrack?

🙂 The lead actor would be Daniel Kaluuya, with John Boyega as support. The lead heist actress would be Angela Bassett. Other supporting actors would include Ashton Sanders, Donald Glover, and too many to explain—haha, this got me so excited. The director would be Chris Nolan, but the producer would be Spike Lee. The soundtrack would be a collaboration between us, my uncle (Anton Armstrong) who is a world-renowned black conductor, Sounwave, and Rick Rubin.

What are you manifesting next for yourself and your career?

Just connecting with new fans. That’s all.

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Words: Karolina Kramplova