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Artist Of The Week – Ryan O’Neil
Monday, December 31, 2007

Ryan O’Neil and 100dbs

Last week I brought you the production side of the dynamic duo 100dbs and Ryan O’Neil. This week, in part two of my first ever Artist Of The Week double feature, the MC gets some time to shine. Born in Kingston, Jamaica, Ryan O’Neil moved to Queens, NY in 1994. He became interested in music while attending LaGuardia High School and when he moved on to college he majored in the subject. After hearing his friend Tense rap O’Neil became enamored with the art of rhyme. This year, thanks to his teaming with 100dbs, he released The Adventures of The One Hand Bandit and The Slum Computer Wizard, and this week I caught up with him to find out more about why he and 100dbs work so well together, how being a “One Hand Bandit” has affected him in the past, and why you’ll never see him passing out flyers in the street.

Adam Bernard: First and foremost, why do you feel you work so well with 100dbs? What about his work brings out the best in yours and vice versa?
Ryan O’Neil: dbs is a musician, and I’m a musician. You don’t just have a rapper and a beat maker, you have two dudes who have extensive knowledge on many genres of music and are very inclined to make the best music possible. His production is so organic it doesn’t sound like its made on a computer and my style of rapping is pretty organic in the sense that you're not gonna get the same corny flow over an entire track. Shit, you're not gonna get the same flow within four bars. We’re also both very serious when it comes to music, it’s either the best we can do, or nothing.

Adam Bernard: Other than your flow, what do you feel makes you a unique and fresh voice in the Hip-Hop scene? What sets you apart from the rest of the pack?
Ryan O’Neil: Hmm, good one. Well, not many rappers are inspired by Paul Simon's lyrics. Not many rappers drop a White Stripes lyric in their songs. $20 for you if you can find that line. My inspirations are so diverse that you're not gonna hear the same clichés as "the rest of the pack." I also like to write songs, not just lyrics. My songs either paint a picture, or tell a story or give a general feeling. I don’t think a lot of Hip-Hop songs do that. I might be wrong, who knows? I just know that I’m feeling myself, the folks that bought the album are feeling me, and since you're writing this I hope you're feeling me.

Adam Bernard: An A&R once told you that you weren't marketable because you only have one hand. What was your initial reaction to this? Have you run into this kind of static in the past within Hip-Hop or in other aspects of your life?
Ryan O’Neil: I kinda laughed. I mean, I was born like this, I’ve been hearing that kind of shit for years. When I moved to NY the elementary school my mom wanted to send me to made me take a test because of my hand. Looking back that’s fucking ridiculous. How does my hand affect my intelligence? Of course I aced the shit, cuz I was a pretty good student back in the day. People tend to look at me at first like I’m an invalid, then I tell them I played college ball for a little bit, I coach basketball now, I play damn near every sport and I type faster than most folks can read. Once they get to know me, it’s a different story. The only time I can honestly say I let my hand play a negative part in my life was when my friends and I were trying to make it as an R&B group. I was very skeptical because I didn’t think a label would take a boy group with a dude with one hand. That shit ain't sexy. Looking back I regret that kind of thinking, not because I want to be in a boy band but because I don’t like to let anything hold me back.

Adam Bernard: With so many people looking to make a name for themselves in Hip-Hop, what are some of the things you're doing to make yourself and your work more known? Do you feel you're doing anything radically different?
Ryan O’Neil: I don’t think I’m doing anything really different than anyone else. I do shows as much as I can. I promote online via MySpace, Facebook and my website. However, I don’t hand shit out on the street. I can’t deal with rejection. If someone was to do to me what I do to people handing shit out I’d be personally offended and want to smack them, but violence isn’t the answer. I guess one thing I do kinda unique is given any chance I’ll talk about music with any and everyone and I’ll start a conversation about Leonard Bernstein and how much I love Chichester Psalms and then I’ll sneak in my album. I don’t care if you're Jay-Z or someone's old Jewish grandma, you're gonna hear about my music. I’m that proud of it.

Adam Bernard: What are the most rewarding aspects of being an MC?
Ryan O’Neil: I love performing live. I always liked singing in choirs and stuff like that, but performing my own songs in front of people there to see me specifically is one of the best feelings in the world. I also like doing shows where no one knows me and they all came to see some other MC. It’s great to see the newbies’ reactions to my energy and sheer love of being on stage. I like leaving with new people asking where they can find my album.

Adam Bernard: Finally, where do you want to take Hip-Hop and where do you want Hip-Hop to take you?
Ryan O’Neil: I don’t really know if I want to take Hip-Hop anywhere, I just want to make great music. I want impoverished youth to see someone like them making music they like and not killing people all the God damn time. I’m not trying to preach to people, I just want to be an example for good, non-homicidal rap music. As for where I want it to take me, I wouldn’t mind being able to solely write songs and perform for a living, never having to work a 9-5 again. I’m not saying make me a millionaire, although that wouldn’t hurt either, but just for it to make me comfortable.

Related Links

Website: theonehandbandit.com
MySpace: myspace.com/ryanoneilmusic
MySpace: myspace.com/100dbs
Adam’s World: Artist Of The Week – 100dbs


posted by Adam Bernard @ 8:01 AM  
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