Oddisee deserves every bit of recognition he gets. There’s no other young artist that exemplifies the new wave of independently motivated, business-literate Hip Hop grafters like he does. Since the early 2000’s the DC native has been putting in the hours honing his craft into the accomplished sound you hear today; booking his own tours, promoting himself, and releasing mixtapes, beat tapes and albums through the label he also does consultancy work for; Mello Music Group. On top of that he creates some of the most exciting new instrumental Hip Hop the American underground has seen for years, gives down to earth, articulate advice in interviews, and builds his music at home and while on the road. Spending his time between shows digging through sample archives on external hard drives using a simple set up that fits into a back pack, and consists of a Macbook, Pro Tools, an interface, travel monitors and a mic. Did I mention he raps? yeah he MC’s too. Well.
With all the work he puts in, it’s easy to see why he’s become one of the most prolific and proficient names in the game. He’s worked with J Live, Talib Kweli, Jazzy Jeff, Little Brother, Apollo Brown and Asheru. Produced for labelmates Trek Life and Stik Figa, for North Carolina MC King Mez, who’s New Vinyl track features as No Rules For Kings on this latest instrumental release, and still found the time to lace beats and rhymes for his crew Diamond District.
October the 21st sees his newest collection of beats The Beauty In All get a cd and vinyl release in the UK. Although buying it digitally directly from Mello’s bandcamp means that you’ll also get the accompanying mixtape Tangible Dream; for the vinyl heads losing out on the extra tracks is a sacrifice worth making. I’m not sure if it’s going to be the Blue edition like the record they put out across the pond, but if it is, and you live anywhere in Britain, around Weds/Thurs this week you’ll be able to open your windows and hear me howling at the clouds with sheer delight.
Look at that beautiful shit…
Every time I try to listen to specific songs from The Beauty In All in order to write about them the music it sucks me in and I forget the ‘practical’ reason I was trying to listen in the first place. Individually and as a full piece, the songs capture your attention then constantly shed their skin to re-emerge in a different form. It’s all Hip Hop, but it moves from funky on Fashionably Late, to modern and dancy on Fievre, and travels through ambient, airy, electronic soul on One Thing Right. Without a doubt one of my favourite cuts is The Gospel, a deep, dynamic track that is a salient example of how good producing sounds. The ideas built upon sound simple, and nothing jars, but if you apply thought to what’s going on then you’ll find the complexities astounding; it’s amazing how the addition of a ride and snare line can lift an entire track to new heights after the foundations have been laid with subtlety.
To me, After Thoughts is the hardest thing goin. There’s not a time yet in the weeks I’ve been listening to this track that I haven’t made gun fingers and pumped them at the sky when it drops at the start. Put me on a desert island with that and Lonely Planet playing and I’ll throw all my clothes into the sea and dance my ass off every single day shouting about how my soul is shimmering through the music’s vibrations. Failing that, then just put some headphones on and tell me In My Day isn’t the sound of a man who’s on top of his game and showing no signs of slowing his ascension any time soon. Every percussive element is arranged with maximum style, every hi hat adding something to the overall composition. From the calm propulsion the bongos add below the suave melodies on Patience In Play, to the dynamic electronic stomp on Caprice Down‘s tasteful trap rhythms, the beats themselves always bring a fresh twist to familiar themes, with delicate instrumentation that envelops the listener in the many layers placed on each track. Fork In The Road is exactly that, an 8 minute journey that builds beautifully with large rolling drums and epic swells, then sinks into a walking bassline that rides the groove into plucked strings and piano melodies until it finally fades and reappears as pure funk and soul sampling that’s so damn groovy you won’t know whether to rap over it or pull the bottom of your joggers into flares and start doing that John Travolta shit from that bullshit disco film.
This varied collection of instrumentals belongs in any vinyl junkies collection. For 50-plus minutes Oddisee creates an overly smooth and relaxed atmosphere, occasionally breaking the mellow mood to get your whole body moving with breaks that are used to their full potential without being overworked to exhaustion. If Oddisee keeps progressing at the rate he currently is, with a work-rate this prolific, he’ll be one of the biggest names in Hip Hop in no time, he’s already one of the dopest.