B(e)GM Artist Profile: TUNDE OLANIRAN

I’m coming to the conclusion that if you’re intuitive and observant enough – you can always tell who the artists are when you step into a room.  Creative souls are not just creative when they’re making a song or painting a picture. Their artistry, innate and authentic,  is not something that they turn on and off. It IS, literally, their existence.  And it is this delicious co-mingling of life and art that grabs our attention – that fascinates and challenges us as witnesses.

And whether they’re performing or not…there is always performance involved. Artists are ALWAYS performing, in some capacity. There is something utterly intoxicating about the way artists move in this world. How they keep you suspended in a place of anticipation – never knowing if your next moment with them will become a song. How every conversation you have with them can become a canvas. How they seem forever wedged in that that perplexing place of potentiality. How NOTHING escapes their powers of creation and re-creation. Not even you.

I’ll be the first to admit that my definition of artist is one that is loaded…and demanding. There are times when it feels like the need to be moved by an artist – as opposed to being merely impressed – is asking too much.  Sometimes, I wish I needed less. But just when I get to the point where I’m ready to throw in the towel and lower my standards, I come across an artist who won’t let me. An artist like Tunde Olaniran…

In his latest  project, The First Transgression, Tunde continues in the tradition of eroding boundaries and blending concepts/sounds in ways that have become his signature. For those who are familiar with his previous solo album and albums with his bands taste this! and Stereoluxxx, we understand that much of Tunde’s appeal as an artist is his willingness to challenge the status quo. The son of a Nigerian father and African-American mother, Tunde’s approach to music is one that you might expect from a man who grew up in 3 different countries and was exposed to a wide range of musical styles and messages – the son of activist and an immigrant. In many ways, Tunde seems built to traverse cultures and stamp out a unique brand of musical expression. He could, indeed, be described as a futurist, etching out a delightfully infectious, foreshadowing of tomorrow’s music…today.

The First Trangression contains 3 songs (with 1 remix) and is the first installment in a series of 5 EPs (the next one will be released in March 2012). The First Transgression is an intense (albeit, short) journey through enlightened lyrics layered over dark, insistent, tracks. The stark contrast between the album’s deeply philosophical themes, Tunde’s velvety voice and the gritty, lo-fi production, is sure to confuse and, possibly, irritate listeners who like their music formulaic and easily defined. Slavish devotees to corporate-pop music aside,  the album is a boon for those of us who appreciate music that not only sounds REALLY good but also forces us to grow – on multiple levels.

Whether it’s  the existentialist exploration of duality and balance on the first single, Cobra, the destructive allure of toxic relationships on User Manual, or the fighting rebellion of Tiger Balm, this EP packs a small, but mighty, punch. Its brevity acting as both a gift and a curse – the first hit that will inevitably have you coming back for more.

Fortunately, I’m not the only one who recognizes the sheer genius that is Tunde Olaniran. Recently, he was featured as an Artist of the Week on MTV Iggy. One of his videos was featured on MTV.com and one of his songs can be found on the Just Wright soundtrack featuring Common and Queen Latifah. He has also performed at SXSW and has toured Europe. And it’s not just the bigwigs who are taking notice, Tunde has built a growing reputation with his fans as an electrifying performer, giving thorough attention to every aspect of his stage show from lighting, to choreography, to visuals – Tunde’s DIY ethic is a testament to the notion that passion and creativity can (and often do) trump big budget spectacle. Every time he steps on a stage, it is obvious he is doing exactly what he is supposed to be doing – effortlessly, yet meticulously, stepping into the roles of  iconoclast, innovator, provocateur… artist.

What’s most exciting about Tunde and artists of his caliber is the anticipation of what’s to come. One can only imagine the terrain that Tunde will carve out for us…what boundaries he will obliterate…how he will invite his listeners into his artistic AND personal evolution in ways that will inevitably enhance our own.

Whether you love him (as I truly do) or hate him, being exposed to the magic and chaos that Tunde Olaniran brings to the musical landscape will push you to think, re-examine, and shift. You may find yourself unexpectedly falling  into sonic territories you previously avoided. You might find your worldview shifted by lyrics that promote both internal and external analysis. You might begin to see that the lines between the political, personal, psychological, cultural are not as distinct as you thought they were. Whatever the case, you will be changed. And in that way, you really can’t go wrong.

Tunde Olaniran really is a win-win situation. All the way around.

For more info about Tunde Olaniran or to purchase his music, check out the links below:

Website: www.tundeolaniran.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Tunde-Olaniran/312596518944

Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/tundeolaniran

On MTV Iggy: http://www.mtviggy.com/articles/is-the-world-ready-for-tunde-olaniran/

On MTV.com: http://www.mtv.com/videos/tunde-olaniran/683353/cobra.jhtml