Imagine telling your parents – who moved from Zambia for the sole purpose of furthering their education – that you’ve decided to drop out of university to pursue a career as a hip-hop artist.
This was the task Winnipeg rapper Oz Jackson faced.
“Where they’re from, to make it out, school is the only way,” Jackson says.
But he wanted something different; he wanted to make music.
“At first they weren’t sure about it, but then they saw I wasn’t just messing around. I’d be making music till five in the morning,” Jackson says. His parents saw his passion and decided to support him in his endeavours.
Jackson documented this initial struggle in his first EP, Undecided, which was released a year ago, and he hasn’t stopped working since.
He’s performing shows and working on a yet to be titled second EP which he has scheduled to be released this April. Jackson refers to this EP as an appetizer for the full length album he plans to release this fall.
Despite the initial tension Jackson experienced with his parents, he still sees them as his biggest inspiration.
How far his parents have come and how much they support him is a constant source of motivation for Jackson.
“If they can be that good at what they do, from where they came from… I want to be even greater at what I do here, and be able to give back,” Jackson says.
Jackson hopes to one day be compared to Jay Z.
“Because of all that he’s done, not just musically but also in his work outside of music,” Jackson says.
Jackson sees the impact Jay Z has had on his neighbourhood, not only through charity but also as a role model, which Jackson thinks is just as important as his musical contributions.
It’s truly all about giving back for Jackson.
“Even if I had no money and somebody could still come up to me in the street and be like ‘Yo man, I still listen to your songs to this day and it still makes my day better,’ then hey, I did my job, you know?”
Jackson describes his music as being energetic, honest, vulnerable, melodic and vivid.
His new album set to be a combination of cloud rap (for the uninitiated, think ASAP Rocky), with heavier drums, a darker, more moody sound, and a lot more singing than fans are used to.
Catch Oz Jackson on March 12 with Winnipeg DJ Peter Takis, Young Zaire, and DJ Leenin, from 9:30 p.m. to 6 a.m. The location of the secret show will be announced the day of. Follow him on Twitter @itsOzJackson for all the details, and check out his SoundCloud of the same name for a taste of his music.