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Brooklyn, New York, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2014 | SELF

Brooklyn, New York, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2014
Band Rock Singer/Songwriter




"Ryan-O'Neil Transitions From Emcee To Guitar Hero"

Although originally known throughout the area as a hip-hop artist, O'Neil notes rapping was just "the newest thing I did," as his background includes studying at a performing arts high school, and becoming accomplished at everything from doo-wop to classical. His passion for hip-hop stalled a few years ago, as he explains, "The shows were always the same people, and their friends, and no one new, no one really doing anything interesting, myself included, so I just started to hit a wall creatively with the scene, and with myself."

It was at this point that O'Neil picked up his guitar again, and started writing.

O'Neil's first musical endeavors with the guitar were in college. "I was like 20," he remembers, "I bought this really cheap guitar from this store, Area Records, in Geneva (New York)." Having been born without a right hand, O'Neil went about teaching himself how to play the instrument. "I just figured that my right hand was like a club, basically, and with the right amount of finesse I could play some chords."

For his unique situation, instruction, O'Neil found, was tough to come by. "I took a class at school, one-on-one, with this professor," he remembers, "and he was helpful with the chords and stuff, and what to do with my left hand, but he didn't really know what to do with my right hand, so that was the end of that lesson."

Although he worked his way to playing Beatles songs in his house, O'Neil had much larger goals for his music. A program called Guitars for Teachers helped him move towards those goals. "The whole point of it was for us to use the guitar in the classroom, (for) early childhood stuff," he says of the program. "They gave me this really nice classical guitar, and that led to me to playing all the time. I learned how to pick, sort of, with my right hand, and just practiced, and got better. I was born with my hand like this, so to me it's the normal way to do it."

O'Neil, who is also a music teacher, embodied the program's name, as he took his guitar into his classroom. "I think that kinda got me better at playing," he says, noting, "I was playing all the time in front of kids, five and six year olds, at good old Trevor Day School (in New York City), and playing songs for clean up, or songs for transitioning, it's time to go to lunch, and things like that."

For his eponymous EP, which he released earlier this month, the subject matter is a little more grown up, as O'Neil dives into both his own life, and the art of storytelling. "A bit of it's personal, but I like to let the imagination flow, [and] come up with these stories," he explains. This is why there are songs like "She Don't Get Me," and "Cigarettes," which he says are about a specific person, and "Brooklyn Bound," which he describes as "my idea of a hipster pop tune, a pop-folk tune," as well as fare such as "Daydreamer," which he says is his attempt at writing a Lennon-McCartney song.

Purely fictional, O'Neil elaborates on "Daydreamer," saying, "That's just my imagination, just me coming up with a story in my head about a guy obsessed with a girl who's not into him because she's too obsessed with music."

The cover art for O'Neil's EP was done by one of his students, although at the time neither of them knew her work was going to be featured in that way. "I teach guitar privately now," he explains, "and after our lesson we were hanging out at the table with her mom, and she was like, 'Hey, I'm gonna draw you.' Real quick she did this sketch, and I was like, 'That's awesome!' and I kept it. A couple months later I needed an album cover, so I was like, 'That's it. That's what I'm gonna use.'"

Along with providing cover art, O'Neil's students have also provided him with some of his favorite reviews of his work. During one February he prepared musical history lessons that coincided with Black History Month, covering a different Black musician, from Bob Marley, to Billie Holiday, to Louis Armstrong, every Friday. "I just pulled these guys up on the internet," he says, "and showed (the kids) stuff they did, and songs they wrote." During one of these introductions to a legendary artist, one of his students raised her hand, and made a connection he didn't expect. "She said, 'Mr. Edwards, you're a Black musician,' and I said, 'Yes.' Then she goes, 'You're Black history!' I laughed, and said, 'Not yet, but hopefully one day.'"

With his self-titled EP already out, and an EP of Bob Dylan covers, titled Dylan Black, due later this year, Ryan-O'Neil is on his way to making his student's statement come true. - Arena.com

"Ryan-O’Neil & 100dBs: Tea & Spliffs"

Following up with their debut collaborative album released way back in 2007, down-to-earth rapper Ryan-O’Neil and boom-bap-with-a-mix-of-abstract producer 100dBs come forth with their sophomore LP, Tea & Spliffs. The impeccable and inexorable chemistry these two artists have is appreciable and one that contributes to the mind-blowing originality that this album shows off. Studded in rhinestones, rather than diamonds, Ryan-O’Neil and 100dBs keep it realer than real on their new album Tea & Spliffs.

Ryan-O’Neil has a deep voice that sounds very similar to Tyler, the Creator, but his style is anything but the dark and twisted sounds of the OFWGKTA head-honcho. Balancing 100dBs’ esoteric production with a tantalizing flow and bars that would make the founding fathers of hip hop proud, Ryan-O’Neil captivates any ear that comes near him. It’s true it may be hard to really find a niche in today’s ever-growing soundscapes, however, these two artists managed to dig a niche so unlike anything any artist has ever done, that the sounds on Tea & Spliffs are bound to leave you baffled…yet you won’t be able to resist hitting that repeat button.

100dBs creates some funky/intergalactic/old-school/new-school/ear-candy music. Gritty sounds and thick and heavy samples dominate the majority of the instrumentals; outlined in an array of miscellaneous percussion elements such as bongos, washed-out cymbals and dynamic kicks, the beats on this project are incomparable to practically any other producer out there. As 20th-century classical music focused on being different and strikingly, and sometimes alarmingly, original, 100dBs, alongside Ryan-O’Neil create some phenomenally different hip hop music for your everday playlist.

Utlizing nearly no music whatsoever (besides a drum-beat) on “Superman (feat. Jake Lefco),” the emotionally-backed lyricism of Ryan-O’Neil really stands out; then, on the heavily sampled “Power for the People,” Curtis Mayfield’s vocals and music defines the beat to the fullest. The range of dimensions and sounds on this project is pretty remarkable. Areas of music and sound are really explored sonically, and Ryan-O’Neil displays a microphone presence not seen before.

It could be about wack emcees today, self-empowerment or making moves on the track of the same name, it can be done in a dark, attention-grabbing manner, a soulful mind-opener or in an eclectic, somewhat-showy fashion, Ryan-O’Neil can grab a mic and throw down written lines, as well as 100dBs can create a track in ways that a brush may scatter paint on a canvas. It can be organized, it can be random, it can be beautiful, it can require a certain taste, but one thing is for sure, and that is that when Ryan-O’Neil and 100dBs come together, great music is made.


I recommend this album to any fan of abstract, gritty, underground hip hop and artists like MF DOOM, Willie Evans Jr. and Danger Mouse. - Hip Hop Speakeasy

"100dBs & Ryan-O’Neil- Tea & Spliffs"

Why: Fitting, it seems, that I should follow one of the most hyped hip hop releases (on a fairly hip hop heavy list- rappers apparently love the cold months) of the winter from two established MCs with an almost entirely underground release from two little known collaborators. 100dBs is a Brooklyn-based DJ and frequent collaborator with rapper Ryan-O’Neil. Their latest outing together, Tea & Spliffs, is a sharp, old school, impossibly well-refined and lyrically sharp-witted, intelligent, and honest romp in straightforward, unabashed, hip hop at its purest essence. With its confidence, never wavering flow, and top-notch production this is a no-gimmicks reminder of the power of the story at hip hip’s core and a thoroughly enjoyable listen from beginning to end. Check out the infectious old school jam with a great food-for-thought message “Wait a Minute” and stream the entire album on Spotify. - No Country For New Nashville

"100dBs and Ryan O’Neil – The Adventures of The One Hand Bandit and The Slum Computer Wizard"

Ryan O’Neil sounds hungry. “I swear to God I thought hip hop was dead,” he asserts on the very first breath of The Adventures of The One Hand Bandit and The Slum Computer Wizard. It’s not a lament, mind you, not mournful. It’s more like relief — he heard the talk, explored the dilemma himself, and realized that it’s all bullshit.

O’Neil contributed to a few tracks on this year’s Brenner’s Breaks Vol. 1 mixtape (review), adding another element to what was mostly a showcase for producer 100dBs. Adventures, though, is entirely his beast. Stylish, rangy, eloquent, O’Neil touches on a number of different topics, over the typical variety of dBs’ diverse beats, and offers a consistent lyrical flair throughout the course of the album.

Things get particularly interesting in the album’s second half, when the duo both step their games up considerably. “NYC Burns” paints the Big Apple summertime like a modern-day Rockwell painting, “She Got A Body” drops sampled vocal stabs in the chorus like the Bomb Squad, and “Must Be Love” personifies the adoration of music like Common’s “I Used to Love HER.”

O’Neil’s impressive wordplay is most evident on “Paper Planes,” which uses paper as a symbol of both the naiveté of childhood and the jadedness of growing up. Over a touching beat that’s half Jackson 5 playfulness and sentimental piano twinkle, O’Neil hits hard a number of times – “I used to run just for fun / Now I hurry all the time,” “Innocence was bliss but maturity had found me / But now I kinda wish it didn’t / Because I’m conscious of the vicious system / That’s responsible for apathy and cynicism,” while offering vividly depicted memories of his childhood.

But there’s a sense of humor here, too. O’Neil playfully jabs at himself (“How many one-handed rappers are repping?”), turns a few phrases (“In the club tryin’ to make that ass clap / Nah, man, I’m past that / I’m tryin to see royalties from ASCAP”), and joins dBs in disguising raunchy sex-talk with a sweet, gentle hook and chorus in live favorite “Get Low.”

100dBs continues to progress as a producer, as well. The music nerd in him is endearing, as these tracks overflow with disparate influences and genuine enthusiasm. They’re also grandiose – the drums loom large and the choruses soar – but the production wisely serves as a backdrop for O’Neil, who has more than enough skill and charisma to carry the record.

Turns out, hip hop’s not dead. O’Neil solidifies this conclusion on the albums’ final track, the red-hot “100 MCs.” The Bandit discusses the magnetic draw that inspired him to rap, eventually leading to this – a smart, varied, and exciting album that should prevent anyone else from pursuing the genre’s big question. The answer is right here. - Glorious Noise

"Artist Of The Week – Ryan O’Neil"

Last week I brought you the production side of the dynamic duo 100dbs and Ryan O’Neil. This week, in part two of my first ever Artist Of The Week double feature, the MC gets some time to shine. Born in Kingston, Jamaica, Ryan O’Neil moved to Queens, NY in 1994. He became interested in music while attending LaGuardia High School and when he moved on to college he majored in the subject. After hearing his friend Tense rap O’Neil became enamored with the art of rhyme. This year, thanks to his teaming with 100dbs, he released The Adventures of The One Hand Bandit and The Slum Computer Wizard, and this week I caught up with him to find out more about why he and 100dbs work so well together, how being a “One Hand Bandit” has affected him in the past, and why you’ll never see him passing out flyers in the street.

Adam Bernard: First and foremost, why do you feel you work so well with 100dbs? What about his work brings out the best in yours and vice versa?
Ryan O’Neil: dbs is a musician, and I’m a musician. You don’t just have a rapper and a beat maker, you have two dudes who have extensive knowledge on many genres of music and are very inclined to make the best music possible. His production is so organic it doesn’t sound like its made on a computer and my style of rapping is pretty organic in the sense that you're not gonna get the same corny flow over an entire track. Shit, you're not gonna get the same flow within four bars. We’re also both very serious when it comes to music, it’s either the best we can do, or nothing.

Adam Bernard: Other than your flow, what do you feel makes you a unique and fresh voice in the Hip-Hop scene? What sets you apart from the rest of the pack?
Ryan O’Neil: Hmm, good one. Well, not many rappers are inspired by Paul Simon's lyrics. Not many rappers drop a White Stripes lyric in their songs. $20 for you if you can find that line. My inspirations are so diverse that you're not gonna hear the same clichés as "the rest of the pack." I also like to write songs, not just lyrics. My songs either paint a picture, or tell a story or give a general feeling. I don’t think a lot of Hip-Hop songs do that. I might be wrong, who knows? I just know that I’m feeling myself, the folks that bought the album are feeling me, and since you're writing this I hope you're feeling me.

Adam Bernard: An A&R once told you that you weren't marketable because you only have one hand. What was your initial reaction to this? Have you run into this kind of static in the past within Hip-Hop or in other aspects of your life?
Ryan O’Neil: I kinda laughed. I mean, I was born like this, I’ve been hearing that kind of shit for years. When I moved to NY the elementary school my mom wanted to send me to made me take a test because of my hand. Looking back that’s fucking ridiculous. How does my hand affect my intelligence? Of course I aced the shit, cuz I was a pretty good student back in the day. People tend to look at me at first like I’m an invalid, then I tell them I played college ball for a little bit, I coach basketball now, I play damn near every sport and I type faster than most folks can read. Once they get to know me, it’s a different story. The only time I can honestly say I let my hand play a negative part in my life was when my friends and I were trying to make it as an R&B group. I was very skeptical because I didn’t think a label would take a boy group with a dude with one hand. That shit ain't sexy. Looking back I regret that kind of thinking, not because I want to be in a boy band but because I don’t like to let anything hold me back.

Adam Bernard: With so many people looking to make a name for themselves in Hip-Hop, what are some of the things you're doing to make yourself and your work more known? Do you feel you're doing anything radically different?
Ryan O’Neil: I don’t think I’m doing anything really different than anyone else. I do shows as much as I can. I promote online via MySpace, Facebook and my website. However, I don’t hand shit out on the street. I can’t deal with rejection. If someone was to do to me what I do to people handing shit out I’d be personally offended and want to smack them, but violence isn’t the answer. I guess one thing I do kinda unique is given any chance I’ll talk about music with any and everyone and I’ll start a conversation about Leonard Bernstein and how much I love Chichester Psalms and then I’ll sneak in my album. I don’t care if you're Jay-Z or someone's old Jewish grandma, you're gonna hear about my music. I’m that proud of it.

Adam Bernard: What are the most rewarding aspects of being an MC?
Ryan O’Neil: I love performing live. I always liked singing in choirs and stuff like that, but performing my own songs in front of people there to see me specifically is one of the best feelings in the world. I also like doing shows where no one knows me and they all came to see some other MC. It’s great to see the newbies’ reactions to my energy and sheer love of being on stage. I like leaving with new people asking where they can find my album.

Adam Bernard: Finally, where do you want to take Hip-Hop and where do you want Hip-Hop to take you?
Ryan O’Neil: I don’t really know if I want to take Hip-Hop anywhere, I just want to make great music. I want impoverished youth to see someone like them making music they like and not killing people all the God damn time. I’m not trying to preach to people, I just want to be an example for good, non-homicidal rap music. As for where I want it to take me, I wouldn’t mind being able to solely write songs and perform for a living, never having to work a 9-5 again. I’m not saying make me a millionaire, although that wouldn’t hurt either, but just for it to make me comfortable. - Adam's World

"It's A Bird, It's A Plane...It's Droppin Ill Beats"

By day, Ryan-O’Neil Edwards ’06 is a mild-mannered teacher-type. He
spends his mornings teaching nursery school and his afternoons and weekends coaching junior high basketball and high school track. “I love working with kids. They’re funny and very interesting,” says Edwards, who majored in music. “I definitely see a future for myself working with children, but that doesn’t mean I want to make teaching a full-time career.”

You see, by night, Edwards goes by another name. When the lights
are lowered and the mic is switched on, Edwards becomes The One Hand Bandit, a classically-trained singer turned rapper and musical storyteller. “I want to be in the genre of ill musicians,” writes Edwards on his Web site, www.theonehandbandit.com. “I want to be good enough to be talked about in the same sentences as good song writers.” Edwards is well on his way. His 2007 album with
producer-partner 100dBs, “The Adventures of the One
Hand Bandit and the Slum Computer Wizard,” received critical acclaim from music bloggers and earned the pair a feature in the
November 2007 issue of Scheme an online magazine for the hip hop community. “I’m currently writing new songs and talking with producers about beats I may want to use,” says Edwards. “There’s definitely a second album coming. When, I’m not sure, but it’s
in the works.” In the meantime, Edwards’ rock-star-side is getting plenty of stage time. His promotional company, Theory Events, puts on a monthly party in the East Village, providing Edwards with an opportunity to connect with old and new fans. “I make music because it’s in me,” says Edwards. “Knowing that I’ve touched
someone with my music is the most rewarding thing about being a musician.”
– Melissa Sue Sorrells ’05 - Pulteney Street Survey


Still working on that hot first release.



Born in Kingston, Jamaica, Ryan-O'Neil moved to Queens, NY in 1994 at the age of 10. He's currently a singer/songwriter and plays guitar with his band The Bandits. His music has been described as "a cool hybrid between the groove of Hendrix and the grit of Neil Young."

A fan of music from a young age, Ryan-O'Neil's high school years at the "Fame(d)" LaGuardia High School of Music and Art and The Performing Arts in NYC sparked his passion in music making. Performing in choral ensembles, and acapella doo wop groups in high school and college, gave Ryan much needed lessons in music theory, harmony, and song structure. Add this to his growing tendency towards rapping with his high school friends, Ryan-O'Neil was slowly putting together the tools he would need to become the songwriter he strives to be.

After graduating with a degree in Music from Hobart College, Ryan-O'Neil wrote and recorded 2 hip hop albums with DJ/Producer 100dBs. "The Adventures of The Slum Computer Wizard and The One Hand Bandit, (2007)" an admittedly long title was well received in the NYC indie hip hop scene. "The Adventures..." was written up on Okayplayer.com as well as the hip hop blog Nahright. The pair took a break and finally released "Tea & Spliffs" in 2012 through Independent hip hop label HipNott Records. In the meantime, Ryan-O'Neil recorded numerous single releases with Kats and Domer's Free Ice Cream label. He released his solo hip hop EP "Hyphenated & Apostrophed" also under their label.

In 2014 Ryan-O'Neil recorded and independently released his eponymous EP. A break from his previous hip hop, Ryan-O'Neil was a step in the direction of songwriting greats like Paul Simon, Bob Marley, and Bob Dylan. Although he was born missing his right hand from a congenital birth defect, Ryan-O'Neil has always been encouraged to push himself to be "like all the other kids." He has been practicing the guitar, even teaching the instrument to over 20 kids in NYC. He continues to work toward being the best musician he can possibly be.