Outasight wants to take you back. Back to a time before his momentous first single, last year’s don’t-worry-let’s-party anthem “Tonight is the Night,” became the #1 most-added song on Top 40 radio in its first week, went platinum in sales, scored national exposure in ad campaigns for Pepsi, Honda, and Pizza Hut and was performed on The X Factor, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and 90210. Back to a time when the Yonkers-bred hip-hop artist was just a college dropout working 12-hour shifts on the fryer at a takeout restaurant, scraping up the cash to rent studio time in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. Back to his road trips with friends—windows down, NYC-bound on the FDR (“because we were so broke, and you can take the FDR without having to pay a toll,” he says), searching for a rave, drum ‘n’ bass club, or open mic where he could freestyle, vibing off the energy in the room. Every song on Nights Like These, Outasight’s infectious LP debut, pays homage to the big-dreaming outsider he once was. “I think music needs honesty,” Outasight (“OU” for short) says. “It’s always awesome when authentic shit cuts through the b.s. Every song on this album comes from a real place and a real moment. I had a lot of low points—my parents were pissed at me for dropping out of college, I was broke as a joke, making crap money, just fighting to survive. It’s about me telling my story. And if I can tell the story of not just myself, but of all the people who have to fight for everything they’ve got—then I might be on to something.”
From the slick up-tempo rhymes of swag-heavy “Shine,” feat. Chiddy Bang (“Took a long while, didn’t always come easy, had some good friends, girlfriends who didnt believe me. This ain’t no victory lap, I don’t sleep I don’t nap, I’m just trying to do me, see where I’m at”), to the wistful pop-rock of “Let’s Go” (“All that glitters ain’t gold, another story gets told, ‘bout an underdog trying to overcome some issue they can’t get ahold of”), Nights Like These is undeniably OU’s own DNA-print on record. Outsight’s sound may be rooted in hip hop, but has now gone beyond that musically, into an amalgamation of different forms. The album is the culmination of a long grind that began with a handful of self-released mixtapes, starting with 2007’s Employee of the Year and 2008’s Radio New York, which landed him on MySpace’s homepage and led to an MTVU Freshman award. His third compilation, 2009‘s From There to Here, along with an impressive live set opening for Ryan Leslie at NYC’s SOB’s, scored him a meeting with former Asylum Records CEO and current Warner Bros. Records Co-President & CEO Todd Moscowitz. But at the time, OU was bound by a smaller label that didn’t support his vision. “I’d just jumped at the first little bit of money so I could quit my job,” he explains. “I wanted to be on Warner Bros. but there was a bad relationship with the other company, so I wasn’t allowed to release any music. It was like this amazing lifelong dream was hanging in front of my face, and I couldn’t grab it. I was in the studio, but I was really depressed, literally in a state of flux. What kept me going was the songs I was creating.”
Finally signed with Warner Bros., OU’s days of singing for just a sound engineer are over. In “Now or Never,” his second single on the album, he declares, “It’s now or never, I’m about to get mine”—and he couldn’t be more right. He’s spent most of the past year building fan momentum on tours with Cobra Starship, 3OH!3, and Gym Class Heroes. His set at 2012’s Lollapalooza led Billboard to remark, "The BMI stage has been known for finding potential hitmakers early; like pre-"Just Dance" Lady Gaga in 2007 and Ke$ha in 2009. With electro-pop tracks like "Tonight Is The Night" and "Now Or Never," (the latter being his best live track of the set), it may not be long before BMI can brag about Outasight playing their stage first."
OU’s version of the day is predictably grittier. “I’ll just break it down for you,” he says. “I had a 6 a.m. flight from Boston—we were trying to rush over to Chicago for a daytime set—so we’re at the airport since 4 a.m., and our flight gets delayed. We finally get to the stage, start setting up. I haven’t slept. I look out to the crowd area, and there’s nobody there. I crack a beer, just to have something in my system. I’m preparing myself for that disappointment— ‘Oh, it’s empty, it’s just early,’ etc. The band goes onstage and they start doing the intro. I’m so out of it, I have no idea what’s going on. I walk out onstage—and there’s thousands of kids there. What the fuck just happened?! It was insane. And we tore that shit down.”
Quite a story—told by one of music’s best new storytellers. Outasight’s debut album, Nights Like These, drops November 27th 2012.
“Turn the lights down low, I don’t wanna see the crowd cause I know, I made a bunch of calls tonight to everyone I know, but no one could go. I close my eyes now, and hear the whole crowd—open them up, start looking out, like damn, what the hell I do now?....All our lives we dream and dream and dream for nights like these.”—Outasight, “Nights Like These,” Nights Like These, 2012.