It’s not often a person just wakes up one morning and starts living their dream. However, that’s exactly how Rodney Finch became Oak City Slums, a hip-hop/bass producer that’s dropped chill beats across the Triangle — from Neptunes to The Ritz.
Influenced by producers like Jersey Club, Baltimore Club, Digitalism, Crystal Castles, and J Dilla, Oak City Slums pulls from a mixed texture of sound, ranging from poppy and vibrant to dark electronic. In the other ear, he draws from jazz sample bass. With a punk and death metal background and years of experience drumming for his church band, Oak City Slums was born.
He remembers that day, saying, “I was tired of struggling being in bands. I woke up one day and told my wife I wanted to start making beats. I went out, bought a computer, a controller, and started creating — trying to imitate the stuff I was listening to.”
Oak City Slums self-describes his sound: Sample-laced heavy bass and designed 808’s. Hard drums with slack percussion. A throwback to production flow of the early 90s using MPC, SP404 samplers. Analog synth with a variety of old and new hardware.”
For several months, making beats remained a private passion. But after a year or so, Oak City Slums was ready to make people dance. His first time creating live sounds was during a beat battle at the Black Flower in Raleigh. The judges laughed at him. “I was horribly embarrassed,” he shares, but he went home and, tempered with real world experience and pain, produced better beats.
“Don’t wait for somebody to come around to notice your talent,” he stresses. “I’ve had a lot of haters. When people hate on something, I feel more driven.”
That adamant passion and drive eventually put him on stage at the Lincoln Theater. However, his first official show was at Nice Price books off Hillsborough Street, playing with Brassious Monk and AK-87. “It was a marked moment for all of us,” he shares, “We all had recently gotten into electronic music, and we couldn’t find a place to play. Then Nice Price let us in with big old speakers and subwoofers, and we packed out the place.”
“If you wanna play music, it’s a grind,” he says, “If you’re not doing something for that grind every single day, you’re not gonna make it. There’s always somebody out there who wants to hear something different. You may not know who that person is at the moment, but they’re out there.”
For Oak City Slums, some of those people were Crystal Taylor, J-Mac, and Joe Bruno, who individually pushed him closer to music success. Another step up was meeting GRRL, who featured his track on Nest HQ.
The people Finch most credits, however, are his family and wife, who have been supportive through this mellow bass, hip-hop transformation into Oak City Slums.