Over 4 weeks, the Rightnowish podcast is exploring love’s many forms. Learn more about the series here.
Oopz is the living embodiment of "showing love." He's a tie-dye wearing, weed smoking, big smiling entrepreneur who sells cannabis accessories. And he's part Shmoplife, a crew of cool kids -- mostly artists and creatives -- known for throwing fun-loving parties. Their headquarters is the Shmop House, a place where the music is usually slappin', the tacos most likely smackin' and the air is often thick with cannabis smoke.
This week, Oopz opens up about his love of the Bay Area and his journey to becoming an extrovert. Plus he revisits the time his community love was tested following a shooting at the Shmop House, which injured a well-known artist and friend to Oopz, Kool John.
In the Bay Area, “showing love” is something we toss around all the time, especially in hip-hop circles. Oopz really lives it.
Below are some lightly edited excerpts of my conversation with Oopz.
Oopz: I feel like I'm an easy person to talk to because I'm non-judgmental and I see things from different perspectives. I feel like that's love, being understanding of people's backgrounds and showing empathy and sympathy.
Pen: I've recognized you as having expertise in showing love. Like everywhere I've seen you… in music videos, out at parties, out at the events… you’re showin love to people. And it seems like it's being reciprocated.
Oopz: That's really how I was raised, I come from a family of love… and both of my parents had a sense of humor [that’s] really goofy. I got that from them… just keeping the energy around, keeping the energy up and positive. And to be born on February 13, the day before the actual love day, I feel like it's not a coincidence.
Pen: Do you have any words of advice for people who are introverts or wanting to break out of their shells and 1) show love and 2) receive love?
Oopz: I used to be that way too, and then I started a spiritual journey and it opened me up more. It got me out of my shell. But I would just say, be yourself at all times.
Pen: You were an introvert?
Oopz: I was back in the day, yeah, before like I did psychedelics I was super introverted...
Oopz: I took a five gram shroom trip a couple of years ago… I was literally out of my body. I was like an entity floating in a tunnel of color. It started to look like a kaleidoscope. I felt like I was dying. Like I was doing the tunnel of life when you die. It's just like… nothingness, it’s like despair. But it's also like beauty at the same time.. it’s a combination of different feelings!
Oopz: When I experienced ego death, I was like, ‘I'm never gonna take life for granted again. I'm gonna be more open, be more accepting of people.’ It opened me up more to the different possibilities of life.
Pen: This positivity that you show – this free spirit – How do you do that in this world we exist in, where you know that everything ain't all peachy keen?
Oopz: I listen to music, smoke a little bit of weed you know, ‘cuz it's a dark world. So you just gotta find little things that keep you on the up and up, to keep your light focused in, just keep your mind working and keep it at ease. So that's what I do.
Pen: Which brings us to another reason we’re here talking to you…you’re part of Shmop House.. A party house that’s known for throwing fun loving parties. I've stopped by the Shmop house at least once before… so much smoke in the air! What does “Shmop” mean?
Oopz: “Shmop” means smacking and popping together. One day Kool John was hella drunk at a party and he was talking to his partner on the phone and he was like, “Bro, you got to get over here it's shmackin’. It's poppin’. It's shmopin’ right now!”
Oopz: And then the party became the Shmops. And Shmoplife - it was a lifestyle that we were all living: Positive partying and living everyday like a Saturday night. Just having fun with our friends, having kickbacks and smoking and drinking. That's what I love about Shmoplife, it’s togetherness and unity. Like I saw that a lot in myself, so I resonated with that movement. And to be able to carry that Schmoplife torch… It's an honor.
Pen: But it hasn’t been all easy: In 2020, Kool John, your good friend, was shot [at one of the parties] and he survived. And he wrote an album where he references that incident and overcoming it. It's an interesting listen…. because it's up tempo, it’s still a party, like you gig to it but he is talking about surviving a very violent incident…
Oopz: Yeah. He’s telling what was going through his mind around that time. That was crazy. I never thought anybody would come at us or anything because all we do is spread love and show people love.
Pen: Was your love tested?
Oopz: At first, yeah. You kind of start to question the love around you. Because that's always going to make you question who's around you. Like, What's going on? How did I let that happen? But I'm not even really raised to live in fear so I'm not going to go out and get revenge on nobody. We just gotta stay prayed up and just like, move different!
Pen: That's a stance of strength and definitely resiliency to choose love in that instance.
Oopz: Mmmhmm it's hard to do… glad we bounced back from the incident. Livin our best lives right now is a blessing.
Rightnowish is an arts and culture podcast produced at KQED. Listen to it wherever you get your podcasts or click the play button at the top of this page and subscribe to the show on NPR One, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, TuneIn, Stitcher or wherever you get your podcasts.