PLAYING DETROIT: Tunde Olaniran Goes a Shade Darker on “Symbol”

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photo by Jon Dones

In 2015, Flint native, artist and activist Tunde Olaniran enchanted with his vibrant, otherworldly debut Transgressor. Since then, we have been waiting with bated breath for new music. Earlier this month that wish was granted as Olaniran released the incredibly slinky and oceanic single “Symbol” which leads us to wonder if (and when) a new record is on the way.

“Symbol” stays true to Olaniran’s charismatic duality. Olaniran packages a powerful narrative – with topics ranging from identity, racial violence and global injustice – in lush layers and goosebump-inducing vocal cascades. While his new single spills over with jutting water droplet-esque movement, Olaniran flirts with a restraint not frequently found on Transgressor.  Though inherently still a pop song, “Symbol” advances Olaniran’s brooding, tribalistic approach to traditional pop with a slightly more aggressive tone that might suggest that whatever material is forthcoming is going to pack one hell of a punch.

Olaniran spoke with NPR’s Stephen Thompson earlier this month and said this of “Symbol”:

“I wrote ‘Symbol’ as the child of an immigrant, under the global specter of violence against black and brown bodies, and in light of the international refugee crisis. Now, with the Trump Administration, black and brown bodies are again held up as political symbols to attack DACA and feed white nationalism. It saddens me that these lyrics feel like they will be relevant for many more generations. ‘Symbol’ is about still finding joy in the knowledge that despite a dark history, we still became the future, and that my body is the literal wildest dream of my ancestors.”

Listen to “Symbol” below:


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