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Feven Getachew
May 6, 2024
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Michael Lozada
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Nathan Hoffman
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Harvey Wilhelm
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Oompa, MXLCXLM perform in Gardner


MXLCXLM (Malcolm Davis ’21) performs in Gardner Lounge with Jon Gomez ’21 as DJ. Photo by May Phuong Vu.

Last Friday, Students poured into Gardner Lounge to hear MXLCXLM and Oompa perform. The stage was lit with pink, green and blue mood lights with MXLCXLM (Malcolm Davis ’21) vibing on stage to instrumentals. The crowd comprised of people sitting on couches and a few swaying to the music on the dance floor. After a few minutes the floor started to fill up and MXLCXLM opened the show.

He kept it chill for a while with the bass resonating through the room and people moving with the rhythm. 

Davis opened with new songs he created over the past few months. He only started producing music this past semester. “Some of those beats were beats that I purchased, because I listened to a beat and was like ‘Oh wow, I can imagine something with that.’ Sometimes I produce my own beats,” he said.

Many of Davis’ instrumentals are mixes of sounds you might not normally hear together. There were some haunting voices and clashing swords mixed with everyday sounds like bass drums and flutes.

After Davis finished his set, rapper Oompa’s DJ joined the stage to get the audience ready for her to perform. People started nodding along in time with the beat.

Oompa knew how to interact with the audience. She talked about her life and showed how human she was by sharing that she accidentally left her show pants at home, so she had to wear sweatpants instead. 

When her song “Work” came on, people started jumping as they counted “One, two, three!” Each time Oompa hit ‘three’ a small mosh pit would almost form as people crashed into each other.

Periodically throughout the show, Oompa would get people moving by having them ‘stretch’ into a position. Each of the ‘stretches’ moved into a particular dance move. One of the moves was twerking, which people did with barely any prompting.

She also sang from her album “November 3rd” and talked about the meanings behind a few of the songs. During “Your Girl,” after the line “I got this girl, and she don’t like girls,” Oompa interjected, “Yeah, you didn’t expect that, did ya?” and moved on with the song.

Oompa also used her platform to discuss mental health issues. She talked about how her girlfriend pushed her to seek help and how, when she finally did, it was like a release of emotions overtook her and she spilled everything to the therapist. 

Oompa and Davis’ music focused on racial justice. In his recent album, “Lion,” Davis talks about the expectations placed on black men. “Imma lie and say I used to flip bricks” and “Know I’ve never been convicted of a crime” are two of the lines in his song “Lion,” which he rapped during the performance.

Davis said that his main focus when writing music is on the lyrics. “I like the poetic side or rap more, so I’m more of a lyricist. I write lyrics, I write songs, I also write plays,” he said.

Davis has found a lot of inspiration in the Grinnell music scene. He said, “I was inspired to become a performing artist because I’m good friends with Marco [Saffold ‘20] and seeing what he was able to do being a recording artist and a performing artist at Grinnell.”

He was also influenced by the lyricist Jake Hull and Kanye West’s old music. “I see myself as a lyricist because of Jake Hull and other people who are sort of doing the same kinds lyrically that I want to do,” he said.

This was Davis’ first performance of his own songs ever. “I was nervous but being able to see my peers and people I knew I could rely on to show up was great. It made me feel a lot easier.”

He also had the pressure of only a two-week notice that he would be playing this performance. Originally, he expected it to be a week later with more time for preparation. 

Davis can be found on Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes and Instagram as MXLCXLM. 

Oompa’s music is on Spotify and her website,

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