If you’re in search of some mellow instrumental hip-hop, I gotchu covered. I’m now a huge Oddisee fan, so I was super excited to see that the prolific rapper/producer came out with a new album, Rock Creek Park, a few weeks ago.
This album is perfect fall music, and perfect for letting your mind wander after inundating your brain with all sorts of information (a.k.a. schoolwork). Like Oddisee’s explanation at the bottom of the Bandcamp page suggests, all the tracks evoke a sort of nostalgia, even if the place you think of while you listen to it isn’t the place he’s thinking of. I’ve never been to Rock Creek Park in D.C., but after listening to this album, I want to go to there. (And while we’re on that note, happy season premiere of 30 Rock!)
Best tracks: “Uptown Cabaret,” “Skipping Rocks,” “The Carter Barron”
Okay, so I’m pretty late on this, but just in case you haven’t heard about or listened to Oddisee’s recent People Hear What They See, I wanted to offer a recommendation to check out his sick new album that dropped a few weeks ago.
To be honest, I wasn’t really familiar with Oddisee’s work before stumbling upon this album, but as soon as I started listening to this latest work, I did my research (thank you Wikipedia!). In an interview with NPR, Oddisee mentioned A Tribe Called Quest as a major inspiration, and as a HUGE Tribe fan, I now realize why I was so drawn to this album; the influence is very clear but transformed in such an original way that the album sounds both familiar and fresh. People Hear is clean-cut, artfully pieced together, and simple.
A member of Mello Music Group (whose artists I will surely be checking out over the next few days…), Oddisee really uses the tracks on this album to showcase his rapping and producing talents. The background vocals, instrumentals (especially piano!), sampling, and perceptive verses flow together seamlessly. The classic r&b melodic components underneath Oddisee’s rapping are refreshing, especially with all the very mechanical, robotic rap that is unfortunately becoming more and more normal. It sounds like real people, real humans were involved in the making of this album, not just a computer; the care and skill with which the album was produced shine through.
A track like “Thinking Maybes” is a perfect example of the way Oddisee manages to combine classic rap/r&b elements with his own original and contemporary sound. The beat is sounds slightly more electronic than on the other tracks. “Ready To Rock” is more reminiscent of standard rap we hear these days, but, like, a bajillion times better and simpler. “Do It All,” “Let It Go,” “Think of Things”…I really can’t even choose a favorite. They’re all brilliant.
Oddisee’s lyrics are also great, particularly on “American Greed.” His words are at once poetic, political, and poignant–making one potent combination that’s not so common anymore in many musical genres, not just rap.
To listen to and purchase the album, check out Mello Music Group’s Bandcamp. While you’re there, though, take a second to read the paragraph Oddisee wrote as a sort of explanation for the inspirations for the album that’s underneath the track listing. It’s insightful and gives more meaning to the album, I think, to really be able to sense the consideration and contemplation that went into the crafting of this work.
P.S. If you liked People Hear, listen to Odd Renditions, an EP with four very awesome samples including Marvin Gaye and Bon Iver! It can also be listened to on Oddisee’s Bandcamp (different than Mello’s).