For years the narrative of Tulsa, Oklahoma has been documented as the city on the wrong side of history. A city once celebrated as having “Black Wallstreet” which was an economic oasis for Black people. To now being a city that lay in ruins and destruction of this same oasis. Even decades later, the footage of unarmed Black men being shot and killed by the same civil servants that are paid to protect them only added to the dark history of Tulsa. One would think that all hope would be lost. But Steph Simon is out to prove that the narrative isn’t over yet. And that the new Tulsa has plenty of ‘Upside’.
Steph Simon is an independent artist from Tulsa, Oklahoma, that has embraced his Tulsa roots, which in turn has helped fuel his “do it yourself” mentality. It was with the release of his second studio release “Visions From the Tisdale” (released in Fall of 2015) that he would come to find out that his “visions” of a new Black Wallstreet were still very much possible.
The track ‘Upside’ is a full-out celebration of the New Black Wallstreet, which can be heard from “The Gap Band” inspired production by producer Papa. Accompanying Steph Simon on the track is featured artist and fellow Tulsan J. Friday, who has been a staple in the music scene by staying true to his roots and his sound. The video (shot by director King Spencer) truly shows the upside of Tulsa both for the present as well as the future. Starting with the mansion which is a symbol of a new day as it was once owned by a former KKK member, and now owned by a black former NFL star Felix Jone. And the most important scene of the video the “Soul Train Line” which is a bridging of the generational gap in an era shared by all.
“They say I’m so West Coast but I’m so GAP.” —Steph Simon
This video shows the impact of Steph Simon to a city that is in need of hope. He was able to only bring together artist from all over the state, but more importantly, bring out the kids that will affect the city for years to come. Some would say this is the fruits of his labour. But at the same time, Steph Simon may not be the one to see the full fruits of his labour, yet. But if his album is as good as his latest video then there’s plenty of “Upside” to look forward to.
Check out his latest video for “Upside” below:
Words by Ando