Power of the purse: OOMAN drops new single “NEW PURSE” on the Deli with exclusive interview

A native to the Bronx NYC, OOMAN (they/she), is a Kittitian-American songwriter, producer, MC and DJ whose music sits at the intersection of electro house and alternative Hip-Hop.

To skip straight to the Deli’s exclusive interview with OOMAN—conducted on the occasion of their brand new single "NEW PURSE" released just today—scroll down past the jump below just after the video for "MISS GOT ROCKS" or by all means continue reading directly below if you’re interested in purses and handbags in addition to OOMAN


Whether serving as an accessory to an outfit, an accessory to self-empowerment, or even an accessory to crime, purses are powerful symbolic totems in our society. Purely in terms of fashion, the right handbag can make or break an outfit while also making or breaking one’s image—just ask Young Jeezy who once made it known that “all I ever want’s a bad b*tch in a Chanel bag” or LL Cool J who loves ladies known as “around the way girls” prone to carrying “a Fendi bag and a bad attitude” with purses on the whole, and certain brands of purses in particular, serving as shorthand for specific personality types, overall attitude and power as in rap/dance/pop songs where something or someone is deemed “Gucci” meaning that the entity in question is good or even great (or chill, or dope, or illin) just ask Gucci Mane

…with the power of the purse only being enhanced by so readily crossing and blurring all kinds of lines and social boundaries with handbags being in essence the ultimate luxury item of the street whether found at upscale boutiques or hawked right off from city sidewalks, a portable status symbol that’s at once exclusive and accessible and highly functional as well, used to carry money and cosmetics and other can’t-do-without personal items especially when wearing an outfit too sleek or too chic to have pockets (no wonder purses are closely associated with nightlife and club culture) and while the earliest handbags were the sole province of men (it’s true!) once women started carrying them they came to be seen as a marker of liberation, part and parcel with expanding freedom of movement outside the domestic sphere…

…not to mention how purses and handbags have established connotations within hip hop culture (many a handbag brand has been made mythic thru hip hop lyrics) and in drag culture and on the dancefloor too—for one example of the latter consider the genre of EDM known simply as handbag house (aka “diva house”) defined on Wikipedia as an “anthemic sub-genre of house music that became most popular in gay clubs during the second half of the 1990s”—and when it comes to queer hip hop Purse First is the name of preeminent podcast covering queer rap artists with a name taken from the expression “purse first, ass last,” a Black queer colloquialism referring to taking care of business before pleasure, a key life hack for marginalized populations in particular, which all goes to show the power of the purse with purse here used as a double signifier for handbags and for socio-economic power…

…and if there’s one notion that queer-identifying KittitianAmerican songwriter/producer/emcee/deejay/electronic artist OOMAN gets across clearly on their brand new track “NEW PURSE” debuting right here and right now on the Deli Mag it’s the power of the purse in all of the various respects discussed above with “NEW PURSE” likewise serving as the perfect sonic accessory to introduce a talented young artist with a brand new bag who rightfully demands respect for “putting in this work” over “a beat that’s hot and wet” declared in a voice dripping with attitude all over this down ’n’ dirty bop designed for dancefloors and headphones alike (whatever your bag may be!) because “NEW PURSE” is a straight-up club banger whose two-minute duration is stuffed with enough sonic nuance to be appreciated by shut-in audiophiles as well…

…but that’s quite enough from me, your dedicated musical correspondent, seeing as The Deli was lucky enough to converse telephonically with OOMAN just the other day and you’ll be better off hearing all about what their bag is straight from the source so let’s get to it with no further ado with some comments from OOMAN excerpted from our highly captivating conversation. (Jason Lee)


On musical roots…

My father is a musician. It’s his lifestyle. We share this in common. He’s been in bands for 40 years, playing bass and steel drum for different genres, calypso and afro jazz to name a few. At a young age I started going into my dad’s home recording studio, I wanted to be a singer. He let me record my voice. I also studied piano into my late teens. In school I always wanted to be aligned with music, I’ve always had a deep desire to be a recording artist and performer.

Another early influence was the trips we took to Saint Kitts. My family would visit there every other year. I’ve been there a bunch of times. There’s a carnival every year and a big annual music festival.I’ve been to Carnival a couple times, once in SK, many times in Brooklyn and once in Boston. The way Caribbean people go hard for music at Carnival -It’s adjacent to punk in a way—people "jump and wave” in the street together. Parallel to the hype at any function. It’s in my blood.

On developing as an artist…

As a teenager I was obsessed with MCs and singers. 

I always wanted to be a popstar when I was little, but it evolved into a desire to write songs. I didn’t realize how much goes into following this path. In my teens, I started rapping and writing songs with the idea of being a ghostwriter for other artists. By 18 I was learning to record on my own. At first I was more writing slower ballads, synth bass ballads. It took a few years to find my own sound but I would write songs all the time. My first release across platforms was “On 10.” It’s a low tempo synth-based song. By that time I was using GarageBand and taught myself to produce by experimenting, playing around and seeing what would come out, until I was happy with the sound. I’m still working on developing my craft as a producer and writer.

At the same time I was getting more and more into deejaying, going to sets and teaching myself how to mix. I was looking up to DJs like Tygapaw, LSDXOXO and Byrell the Great, to name a few. I love their styles. I played a few gigs at a couple venues, which exposed me to so much music and I really just loved all the separate elements that made the song. I never stuck with DJing but it definitely had an impact on the way I was teaching myself how to produce, create and think about songs. I have a few of my early mixes on Soundcloud. Maybe I’ll return to it.

On bridging the DJ/songwriter gap…

In trying to achieve that goal I started making songs to create the same feeling you get from being at a party, at the pinnacle of the night, when everyone’s dancing and it feels like the whole room’s moving in sync. It was a process of figuring out how to match the two things I was doing, DJing and songwriting. The experience of going to the club was so important to me, especially at that time. Those DJ sets were the only place I could go to be in a predominantly black and queer space. I’d come back home inspired, ready to write and respond to what I’d experienced and how true it felt. 

On emceeing/MISS GOT ROCKS

I’m drawn to MCs and the power in their words. It’s an affirmation practice. And there’s a connection between dancehall MCs and MCs in hiphop. As I’d listen to Caribbean DJs speak on the track, I’d feel inspired to tap into that same power when experimenting on the early demos I’d make. [most accounts of hip hop trace its beginnings back to Jamaican-American DJ Kool Herc, with hip hop/rap music sharing a similar emphasis on verbal dexterity, mastery of rhythmic flow on vocals, use of linguistic wordplay, humorous double entendre, and strategic use of signifyin’ speech–remarkably like various genres heard across the Caribbean from calypso to dancehall]. I produced MISS GOT ROCKS with the intention of stating an affirmation over a high energy synth bass. And I feel like the conception of that track challenged me to step into my truth as an MC. Like yes I’m vers, I can go between ballads and bops. 

On Performing..

Last year I did my first string of live performances as an MC, performing a lot of unreleased music that will be coming out this year. It was like a workshop to me, to see how my music affects people at a live set. That kind of emotional experience on stage, the intimacy, it’s so real. Seeing people experience my music for the first time, seeing people go crazy over it, it’s exciting and inspiring. I’m a new artist and performing feels like its own practice within this universe that I’m creating through my sound. 

On “New Purse” and other new material… 

I created the demo for “New Purse”

last year using GarageBand, put the stems down and everything, then tapped my co-producer and friend Max Rewak and asked him to work on an arrangement of the stems. I wanted him to take my demo and make it more dimensional. We sat in the studio together with it— he played around a lot with delay to give it dimension, to where my voice is morphing all the way through the track. I feel like I’m listening to an entity rather than myself when I hear it. It’s OOMAN on the track. I’m excited to release it.

On making music videos…

The video for “Miss Got Rocks” [the follow-up to “On 10”] was shot right around my neighborhood. I’m based in Brooklyn now but went back to that street where I grew up [in the Bronx]. It was my debut video so I thought go big or or go home and actually did both! It was self-funded.

The director Sokhna Samb was super open to my ideas and visions. Her own creative direction is what took it all the way there.

She’s from the Bronx too, so she really understood what I was trying to convey. I told her this is for Bronx b*tches, and that was our mantra. The Bronx gets hate but it’s a hub of the best NYC talent and that’s fact. Everything about it stands on my experience in my hometown – the video reminds me of a time in my life when I’d jump on the train from my parents house in the Bronx to parties in Brooklyn all dressed up for the function, like a picture of my life.

My next music video will be for “Berlin” [the follow-up to “Miss Got Rocks”] after “New Purse” is released.