Brandon “1-O.A.K.” McFarland is an Oakland kid; a young man who has been influenced by the Oakland players and the church prayers. R&B vocalist isn’t exactly the title I’d attribute to the 26 year-old cool kid of the Honor Roll crew. Although he is the singer in the squad, his act differs from that of your father’s Motown stars. He is the culmination of Q-Tip’s thought process, Stevie Wonder’s ear, and Too $hort’s pimp limp — 1-O.A.K is an R&B singer; only for lack of a better term.
He is an asset to the new generation of Oakland talent; a flock of lyricists with few vocalists. From a town historically known for its singers. When asked who his influences are, he immediately says soul singer Raphael Saadiq was at the top of his list. When asked what music has influenced his, he states that the British sound has greatly informed his musical sensibilities. When asked who writes his songs, he makes it known that his life experiences, his Honor Roll crew, and even his mom have input on his lyrics.
His debut album, Special Request, is eclectic to say the least. He incorporates hip-hop, Brasilian, funk, rock, and soul en route to recording a classic record. He references the church as his starting point on the drums, which served as a foundation in mastering the art of his production. He self-produced the whole album, but his soulful vocals take the cake. The “feel good” music is good, and the funk is a must when you come from the East Bay’s musical tradition, but nothing hits like the soul tracks.
When listening to his album, I imagine a young man who stayed after services to play the piano- a smooth melodic tune- one that sounds like Stevie Wonder is in the room. And when the drums kick in, the words come out- and… well, the words wouldn’t be suitable for church… But that’s 1-O.A.K, a product of both the church and the turf.
He says that this album is the process of going through a relationship. I understand.
Watch Coolhand Luke’s interview with 1-O.A.K. above and read Luke’s full review of Special Request HERE.
Interview shot and produced by Pendarvis Harshaw for 38thnotes. Article originally published at Penn’s Station.