Poet, rapper, and educator - the talented Oompa stopped by the WERS studio for a live session during Wicked Local Wednesday. After an incredible, stripped back performance, WERS’ Nicole had a chance to talk with her about learning how to write music, getting into the Boston art scene and more. Excerpts below.

On describing her sound:

People have compared me to if J. Cole and Lauryn Hill had a baby, and that’s been a very cool comparison. But I really enjoy gospel music, R&B music, soul music, and hip hop, and I think that maybe my sound has some of those elements hidden.

On studying math in college, to becoming a full-time artist:

I really enjoyed math in high school because I had a phenomenal teacher. But I was always sneaking away to do music stuff, but I didn’t know that music could be a career so I never entertained it. I just thought that it was something I did to enjoy myself and pass by lunch. But then there were some open mic opportunities, and I was a Posse Scholar, and they used to have this event on campus every year, and it gave me opportunities to express myself and I was like, “wow, this is amazing.” Kind of like, having different kinds of friends brought me out of my shell to do it more and more, to the point where I was a math teacher and then eventually I quit that job to become a full-time artist.

On her first show in Boston:

I guess the one that counted was in 2013. I was featured at the "if you can Feel it, you can Speak it" open mic, and I don’t even know if I was proper age, but I had friends who organized the event and I sat and prepared for like, way too long and it was terrible! I look at the video sometimes and think, "this was terrible!" But it made me realize I had a community and people who wanted me to do well. So that was the most important part of it all. It was hella nerve wracking.

On writing her first song:

I wrote my first song when I was in middle school. Really I was copying Eve and Left Out lyrics, and I would take out the end rhyme and replace it with my own word, and take out another word and then the internal rhyme and make it my own, and eventually I was rewriting whole lines and that helped me conceptualize what it was like to write a verse. And then I wrote my own verses little by little.

On other artists that have influenced her:

Kendrick Lamar, definitely, usually influences me. Aretha Franklin is my favorite artist of all-time, Beyoncé is probably second, then third is Michael Jackson. And I really like P-Funk, like George Clinton, probably Funkadelic, and the stuff on vinyl that my mom had me listen to. Like Motown stuff, you know?

On finding inspiration in other forms of art:

I think I just take from the world in general. I just observe, and I think art being what imitates that is really helpful for me to understand someone else’s perspective and experience and helps me build up my own. So I think I take from all art forms that are genuine and bleed and move me.

On what she would be doing if she wasn't a full-time artist?

So I was a teacher for some time, and I wouldn’t necessarily want to be in a classroom, but I would love to be a student support person. That’s the kind of the trajectory I saw myself on before I left, just because I love young people and I think they’re hugely underserved in the communities that I’m from. They’re just my babies!

On where Boston can see her next:

Oh, you’re the first person I’ve said this to in public! I’m releasing my album on August 10th. There will be a couple things spread out, like the bigger show will be at The Sinclair on August 10th.

Get your tickets now for the Oompa Record Release party on Saturday, August 10, at The Sinclair in Cambridge.