Tunde Olaniran, the Next Big Thing in Socially Complex Pop, Comes to the Pulitzer
From Lizzo to SZA and beyond, the airwaves are full of the kind of socially conscious, empowerment pop that puts your favorite genres in a blender and still bangs just as hard as any less-intellectual club anthem. And in that space, perhaps no one is more poised to make a huge breakthrough this year than Tunde Olaniran.
The Flint, Michigan, native has quietly become a critical and cool-kid darling with his unique blend of dancy high-hat studded bops, avant-garde fashion and lyrics that subtly interrogate complex topics like how queer black men can make space to be vulnerable in an often toxic culture. And on Thursday, Oct. 3, you can catch a glimpse of the next big thing live at the Pulitzer Arts Foundation.
If big-time buzz and addictive singles aren’t enough to get you out to Grand Center, Olaniran’s story will. Born to a Nigerian father who emigrated to the U.S. and joined the American military—a lot of Olaniran’s most exciting looks include nods to his Yoruba culture—Olaniran spent parts of his childhood stationed in Europe before finding himself in a nearly all-white school in the U.S., an experience that he says deeply impacted the themes of being an outsider and an other, which listeners will find woven throughout his work.
Later, he embarked on a career as a sex educator for Planned Parenthood, balancing work against a prolific practice as a musician, rapper, dancer, choreographer, producer, activist and more. He’s stepped away from his work as an educator to focus on his art for now, but you can still hear Olaniran’s passion for pushing our dialogue forward in his lyrics—and see open allusions to it his music videos, like this one for his most recent single, “Vulnerable”.
Still need to get hyped? Check out the recent music video collaboration Olanarian did with ALIVE favorite Ellen Rutt for his song “I’m Here,” and we dare you to try to stop singing it for the rest of the day.
“FarFetched Presents: Tunde Olaniran” is a live music series hosted by the St. Louis-based independent record label FarFetched at the Pulitzer Arts Foundation and co-organized by Darian Wigfall and Damon Davis. The performance, which starts at 7 p.m., is free to attend. Doors open at 6 p.m., so come early and check out the art beforehand.
Featured image courtesy of BreAnn White.