Holladay – born Oscar Carbajal – is a Southern California high school student who reads Plato and Machiavelli. As a rapper, songwriter and performer, Holladay channels an expanding cultural consciousness into the incisive, free-flowing lyrics that mark his studio debut, Spanish Flu.
“A child of Burbank and a Valley kid,” is how Holladay describes himself. Growing up Mexican-American, he was at odds with his ethnicity. “I wanted to be an American,” he remembers. “Then I began looking through my eyes of my family. I realized that the Latino struggle is really hard – why am I ashamed? I began educating myself about heroes like Ruben Salazar, Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta. As I discovered more about the Chicano movement I realized that my culture is beautiful.”
Music is in the bloodlines. His father was a founding member of an influential Los Angeles hip-hop group called DBS Mob. Holladay honors this lineage with “Hart St.” a song that commemorates the crime-ridden neighborhood that propelled his father forward. “My father stopped doing music to take care of us,” says Holladay as he also notes his mother’s influence with the lines, “… if it wasn’t for her, my brothers would have been another statistic on the street.”
A solid support team surrounds Holladay: His older sibling, the rising composer, multi-instrumentalist and producer Key Styles, is behind the board for the majority of the tracks on Spanish Flu. Another ascending talent, a young producer known as Demencha, augments these productions.
Holladay’s video “El Mas Chingon,” spotlighted as a Weekly Heatseeker by the online showcase Hot New Hip-Hop reveals the artist’s camera-ready charisma as Holladay and Demencha hang out in a classic Sixties Chevy Impala. Having his hair styled at a local barbershop or tooling through The Valley on a tricked out bicycle wearing an immaculately pressed shirt and his signature broad-brimmed straw hat, Holladay presents a striking visual identity to mirror the music.
“Truth be told,” is phrase that Holladay uses to introduce verses. Over steely beats and spare instrumentation his truth is delivering music with a purpose. To support these ideals, Holladay has launched a hashtag movement called #OPENYOUREYES and a Latino consciousness community he calls “Brownville.”
A young man, an old soul, something to say and a new way of communicating: Holladay’s Spanish Flu showcase s a significant artist with a vibrant soundtrack to an empowered and uplifting future.