Welcome to the wonderful world of Todrick Hall, the wonderful wizard with his album Straight Outta Oz.
Last month, Hall, most remembered for being a contestant on American Idol, takes his audience on an intriguing adventure with his latest album release. The entirety of the compilation, from start to finish, is whimsical, is sharp, is erotic, and ferocious. It’s a killer project and something I have not really ever seen before. The artist takes the beloved childhood story of The Wizard of Oz and turns it into a sonic adventure of rap, hip hop, pop, electronic, pop and R&B rhythm. Instead of following the yellow brick road, we’re following down a rose-colored glass path of an inauthentic dimension of reality. For the album, he compliments the music with an epic cinematic and musical visual, and just as the original film of Oz criticizes the world for being so mundane and unimaginative, Hall reprimands the falsity in Hollywood and celebrates his eccentric stylings in his life and in his art.
Hall has also been remembered for being a YouTube star sensation, and now he’s planning on premiering his own MTV reality TV show later this summer.
This singer-songwriter hails from Plainview, Texas, The young man from Plainview, Texas. After many trials through the entertainment industry, Out Magazine reported that he had lost his manager, his MTV show possibilities, and a role in NBC’s television showing of The Wiz Live! Most would be disheartened and give up, but not this determined star. He tells Out reporter, Michael Lambert, that “Over the past year, I’ve gone through some real-life problems” He continues “I wanted to create something to make people think about life and look at life through a different set of glasses—some that aren’t so rose-colored…The Wizard of Oz has been my favorite story since I was little kid. I’ve watched it countless times. I can quote every single line. I never knew how much I identified with the character of Dorothy. I always wanted to find a place that was more colorful, more accepting.”
In one track he announces, “I have never seen a house fall from the sky, have you? So we’re gonna fight for justice, we’re gonna fight for equality, and if the Wizard tries to stop me, he’ll have to take me down!”
And just like that we got an inside into the mind of the colorful character that is Hall. The young man is openly gay and black, two traits that have been unfortunately targeted in the past few months.
A very captivating track is his single “Water Guns” which features Jordan Sparks and was written the night before the tragic loss of singer, Christina Frimmie. He said that “the energy at the shoot the next day was so real, so heavy, so current in people’s hearts. Jordin brought so much heart to it.” Right after, the Orlando Shootings occurred and then went back to the drawing board to have him and the cast add in a line to his track: “We Are Orlando.”
The 31-year old is not letting the going get tough though. In this incredible construction of music and art, he manipulates the regularity of genres and molds his own sound. The lyrics are fire, the costumes are breathtaking, the dancing is on point (no pun intended considering he was a ballet dancer), and the music is riveting. He takes us from home and transfers us into his own realm that’s straight outta Oz. Just like any disillusioned human to today’s ritz and glitz, he attempts to demystify the extravagance of being famed and fortunate. Now he is taking his music on tour to the masses which just started two days ago on July 7th in Vancouver, Canada! And apparently, sources say that he will be performing new material that fans haven’t heard yet as well!
He confesses to Out, “I wanted there to be some edge to the show,” he says, “something for people to look forward to.”
What I love most about his Hall’s music is that it is weird and powerful, in the best kind of way. He’s energetic, childish, obnoxious, serious, and profound. He’s sincerely a talented character. He plays on words from the storyline, “If I Had a Heart” like the tin man, “Nowhere like home” like Dorothy in search of her world, ruby combat boots, and cowardly lions who are “lying.” He enlists an army of stars to join him on this cast on a mission to tear down the curtain and prove that an Emerald City’s may not be “greener on the other side” afterall. He talks about the ups and downs. He’s eccentric and proud, and not afraid to say it in your face like it is. Speaking out for gays, blacks, women, and all the people who deserve a voice.
“We’re all still waiting for a wizard to come along and give us permission to go out and chase our dreams,” Hall says.
And hence, came this visual album. In a matter of six weeks, Hall wrote and produced Straight Outta Oz and the people who joined him on the set donated their own time to help him. The project includes drag celebs Alaska, Willam, Kim Chi, Laganja Estranja and Mariah. It also consists of the great YouTube phenomenons Pentatonix; Glee star Amber Riley; as mentioned R&B queen and American Idol winner Jordin Sparks; and actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt, among many more.
Hall admits “I’m just this kid from Texas trying to make a name for myself. And I’m doing it through mutual respect. That’s what I have with these performers and my audience. That’s what turned a self-produced musical from a gay man into a chart-topping album in just the first week. Every single person did what they could. That’s what really warms my heart.”
Thatta boy, Todrick. You deserve high praise for this and more. A truly remarkable masterpiece.