The Artist Otherwise Known As… Adrian Oxley ’20

Oxley ’20 hopes to drop a mixtape and find a space for open speech over his next four years here. Natalie Bernstein/ Staff Photographer.
Oxley ’20 hopes to drop a mixtape and find a space for open speech over his next four years here. Natalie Bernstein/ Staff Photographer.

Adrian Oxley 20 promised his friend that it is possible to write about anything, even couches. So now he’s working on a poem about just that, though he says it is taking longer than usual. “[My friend] forgot about that conversation, but I vow to finish [the poem] before the month is over,” Oxley, who is from Brooklyn, N.Y., said.

Oxley has written on a wide range of topics since he wrote down his first original rap on paper at age eight. Starting in high school, he also tried his hand at writing plays, screenplays, memoirs and essays. Many of these projects remain unfinished, though Oxley still considers them “active.” “When I revisit them I normally don’t leave them untouched,” he said. He is always working on something, or four things, at once.

Over the years, he has drawn stylistic inspiration for many of his raps from Kendrick Lamar, Kanye West and Chance the Rapper. For content, he likes to draw on not only his own experiences but also those of his friends and other perspectives he hears from meeting and engaging with new people.

“Most of my poetry derives from true stories of things I truly believe,” Oxley said. “But when I rap, I like to channel my own fiction … I don’t try to tell true stories when I rap, just stories.”

It wasn’t until the end of high school that Oxley started performing his own work. For the most part, he still only lets his friends hear his raps. However, he can occasionally be found at an open mic or poetry slam.

Before he was accepted to the College, Oxley knew he wanted to continue to pursue this work after high school. He set two goals for himself: first, to drop a mixtape during his four years and second, to create a space where people could share and perform openly and comfortably. Since arriving at the College, he has been very impressed by the spaces available, including SpeakFree and Storytime.

One of Oxley’s favorite pieces to work on has been his poem “Clears Throat,” which he wrote over the course of a couple of days. It addresses cultural appropriation, race relations, police brutality, media coverage and drug use, “as if it all naturally came up in one conversation.” He says it reminds him in some ways of a Kanye rant.

For now, Oxley plans to continue working on some of his unfinished works as well as new pieces.

“So now I pretty much just go with the flow while continuing to expand my arsenal of completed works,” Oxley said. “I’ve only been here less than two months, so we’ll see how it all turns out.”