While our mainstream brethren continue to be asphyxiated by their swag, self-centered braggadocio and misplaced misogyny, we, the remnant remaining loyal to our legacy, find plentiful breaths of fresh air a la artists akin to Oddisee of the Mello Music Group. It is with a sincere sense of head-hanging shame that I apologize for sleeping on People Hear What They See, another true-school classic from MMG.
I feel it is necessary to truly express the impact that these twelve tracks have had, and continue to have, on me and my life as a writer and an emcee. Dustin, the resident hip hop head at my local record shoppe, Fingerprints in Long Beach, heavily suggested Oddisee’s magnum opus upon my request for some must have goodness. I listened. I rode my bike home, eager to soak up the three albums I left with. People Hear What They See went into the my computer so that I could put the album on my iPhone and the cd went into the player in my family car – it hasn’t come out after five weeks. I cannot recommend this album to enough people. After three of four listens, I had to share this gem with my wife, at least the first track, Ready to Rock. [press play]
[thaudio href=’http://soulanchorcollective.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/01-Ready-To-Rock.mp3′%5D01 Ready To Rock[/thaudio]
I told her to imagine the feeling, as an artist, to be on the stage with your head down, one fist firmly planted in the air above your head, the mic tucked under your chin and your head confidently nodding to the rhythm of the glitchy sample, horns and eventually drums as you introduce yourself to your audience with Ready to Rock as the first song in your set; as I imaged this for her, I began crying, yeah I fully teared up. Oddisee’s People Hear What They See reminded me just how badly I want to carve a niche for myself and my friends and family in hip hop, as a writer, label owner, emcee, producer, etc. Thank you Oddisee.
Now for the review. This album is undoubtedly my favorite album from 2012 and has been a staple in my playlist thus far for 2013. Oddisee’s style, both as a producer and as an emcee is refreshingly unique, yet not outside the scope of real hip hop. There is not one stone left unturned topically and everything is discussed from a point of view that is neither high-browed nor lacking wisdom and tact. The production is immaculate, classic and progressive.
Ready to Rock – one of the most inspirational beats I have heard in a long time. What a phenomenal welcome for listeners entering Oddisee’s world. Everything about this track supports his claim that he has always felt called to “greatness.” This track gets listeners ready to roll with Oddisee through the rest of the album.
Do it All – dude is ill on the production, an intelligible lyricist, and obviously has a work ethic that’ll put most to shame – Oddisee is doing it all!
That Real – it is nice to hear something real at a time when “real” is usually a stamp rappers use to convince their listeners, and maybe even themselves, that there is a measure of authenticity in what they are doing. The beat is definitely “that real” and is enough to keep you coming back, but the realism painted by this optimistic pessimist, a realist, is such an easy place to dwell.
Let it Go – this track has been a hugely uplifting source of encouragement, and just feels good.
American Greed – as I stated above, Oddisee doesn’t shy away from any topics and here he deals with ugly side of the American dream, taking us from personal to political, quickly.
The Need Superficial – this track is funky and makes you want to dance, but it is hard to dance as it also draws you in intellectually. The warmth of the needle picking up every imperfection on the sampled vinyl works so well with the lyrical warmth, wherein the emcee allows the listener into a place where self critique takes place. Dope.
Way In Way Out – could easily be called American Greed pt. 2, this track contains so much tension sonically, allowing the pressure felt by the first person narrator to be felt by his audience.
Maybes – all too often musical artists have a difficult time settling into relationships and here Oddisee depicts such as he struggles to find balance, drinking and smoking too much and thus neglecting the object of his affection.
Anothers Grind – just listen to this blue collar hip hop anthem!
[thaudio href=’http://soulanchorcollective.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/09-Anothers-Grind.mp3′%5D09 Anothers Grind[/thaudio]
Set You Free – close your eyes to listen to this one. “…not sure we livin’ in a paradise/more like a resort unaware of life.” Deep.
You Know Who You Are – clever. This is a shout out to the support system that has pushed Oddisee to get this far, as well as a shout out to the nay-sayers and fakes that have tried to cut him and his movement down. As members of either group, as well as anyone falling somewhere in between, listen, they automatically get in where they fit in and thus are included in this heartfelt track. Well done.
Think of Things – what a good bye. The beat just has that, end of the show type feel. Oddisee speaks life on the mic to the rhythm of the farewell beat, sort of taking the shotgun approach, touching on a little of everything – an excellent conclusion.
I am sure that I have made it all too obvious that this album has made quite an impression, but let me be explicit, click HERE and cop it. This is why we do this!
Peace and Love,