Oliver Wang

Oliver Wang is a music writer, scholar, and DJ based in California. Since 1994, he's written on popular music, culture, race, and America for outlets such as NPR, Vibe, Wax Poetics, Scratch, The Village Voice, SF Bay Guardian, and LA Weekly.

Wang begins work as an assistant professor in sociology at Long Beach State this fall; He also hosts the renowned audioblog soul-sides.com. For more information, visit o-dub.com.

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Music Reviews
2:41 pm
Wed October 1, 2014

Dionne Warwick, Reduced To An Essence

The new tribute album Dionne Dionne is a collaboration between singer Dionne Farris (known for her work with Arrested Development) and guitarist Charlie Hunter.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed October 1, 2014 5:29 pm

In title and concept, the new tribute album Dionne Dionne is a great gimmick. But if you've followed the career of Dionne Farris, having her record an entire album of Dionne Warwick covers isn't an obvious move, names aside. It's an idea that took root some 20 years ago: Farris met guitarist Charlie Hunter while the two were on tour as members of hip-hop groups, she with Arrested Development and he with The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy.

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Music Reviews
11:45 am
Tue June 18, 2013

Kanye's 'Yeezus' Packs A Bite

Kanye West at his album listening party at Milk Studios last week in New York City.
Shareif Ziyadat FilmMagic

Originally published on Tue June 18, 2013 4:18 pm

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Music Reviews
3:03 pm
Tue June 4, 2013

Shuggie Otis: 40 Years Later, Still An 'Inspiration'

Shuggie Otis' Inspiration Information was first released nearly 40 years ago.
B+ Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed June 12, 2013 9:25 am

This isn't the first time Shuggie Otis' masterpiece, Inspiration Information, has been reissued — but that's OK. It's an album that absolutely deserves to be rediscovered every decade or so.

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Music Interviews
1:41 pm
Wed May 15, 2013

Laura Mvula's Velvet 'Moon' Is A Revelation

Laura Mvula's debut is ambitiously confident, as if she and her band had perfected their sound years ago.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Fri May 17, 2013 7:33 am

The very first notes on Laura Mvula's new album feel like a powerful invocation. You're not sure for what, but the moment is awesome — with an emphasis on awe.

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Music Reviews
1:57 pm
Wed May 8, 2013

On Two New R&B Albums, An Old Soul Sound That Glows

Charles Bradley was signed by Daptone Records partly because of a James Brown act he used to perform. His new album is Victim of Love.
Darren Bastecky Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed May 8, 2013 3:55 pm

It's tempting to describe the voices of Charles Bradley and

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Music Reviews
4:00 pm
Thu March 14, 2013

Lady: Two Soul Stalwarts Find A New Groove Together

R&B singers Nicole Wray and Terri Walker have teamed up as the duo Lady.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Fri March 15, 2013 6:59 am

R&B singers Nicole Wray and Terri Walker both had promising starts to their careers more than ten years ago. Wray came up on the Virginia coast under the wing of mentor Missy Elliott. Walker, a Londoner, was classically trained yet released her debut on a Def Jam subsidiary. Both enjoyed early critical success but by decade's end struggled to find a wide audience. Instead, they found each other.

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Music Reviews
12:14 pm
Mon November 19, 2012

Bill Withers: The Everyman Singer With A Poet's Soul

Bill Withers onstage in 1973.
Fin Costello Redferns

Originally published on Mon November 26, 2012 9:38 am

Bill Withers' very first single became a breakout hit in 1971. He would go on to record nine albums over the next 14 years, and all of them are now available on a new box set, The Complete Sussex and Columbia Masters.

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Music Reviews
12:58 pm
Tue September 18, 2012

Two Attempts To Turn Summer Platinum Into Fall Gold

Carly Rae Jepsen and the cover of Kanye West's latest album, Cruel Summer.
Vanessa Heins Courtesy of Universal Music Group

Originally published on Wed September 19, 2012 7:47 am

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Music Reviews
1:52 pm
Mon June 4, 2012

'Personal Space': Relics From Synth Soul's Early Days

Electronic soul artist Jeff Phelps with his synthesizers.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Mon June 4, 2012 5:44 pm

Early synthesizers were supposed to imitate or re-create other existing sounds, but as anyone can tell you, they mostly sounded like synthesizers. That distinctive whine and wheeze captivated all manner of pop artists, from prog-rockers to classical composers to soul musicians. However, back then, synthesizers were so expensive and bulky, you needed a major-label budget and an entire studio wall to install them.

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Music Reviews
2:37 pm
Tue March 20, 2012

'The Medium Is The Massage': A Kitchen Sink Of Sound

Artwork for The Medium Is the Massage.
Courtesy of the artist

Few 20th century thinkers predicted the 21st century era of social media and the Internet better than Marshall McLuhan. Beginning in the 1960s, the Toronto-based philosopher and scholar began to theorize about how television and radio were changing society, creating what he termed the "global village."

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