Why haven’t more people heard of Oddisee? Sure, I hadn’t until I saw this record on a list of the best Hip-Hop albums of 2015 (S0 Far), and the record release date of April 28 earlier this year certainly shows that I missed its release, but after some research into who Oddisee is, and after listening to the record, I truly do believe more people should know who he is.
Born to Sudanese and American parents, he was raised in Maryland and spent his summers in Khartoum learning Arabic and swimming in the Nile. His father played the Oud and gospel music was played throughout the house. Moving to Washington, D.C. after high school, his neighbor, Garry Shider of Parliament Funkadelic, helped Oddisee, a.k.a. Amir Mohamed, take his first steps as an MC though Shider’s analog recording basement studio. Now, after years of recording with artists like, The Roots, Freeway, Jazzy Jeff, Little Brother, De La Soul, Nikki Jean, Joey Bada$$, and Flying Lotus, his third studio album, The Good Fight, might just be his most stand-out project yet.
For one, the record is completely clean, with no explicit content on any of the tracks. Speaking with NPR, he told them that his influences were of groups like A Tribe Called Quest and east coast rappers like Rakim. “He said: ‘These rappers don’t talk about drugs or murder, and I can relate more to their lyrics.'” What Oddisee does rap about, is love, inequality, boredom, how we treat one another, it’s more personal and introspective, but with a universal appeal. The music as well has more of a hip-hop appeal, often swung, with horns and intricate rhythms.
Where Oddisee might lack in “catchyness,” he makes up for in message. But the question returns to why he hasn’t caught the eye of the main rap audience, why he’s known in the Washington D.C. area, and people like me who may stumble upon it in one form or another, but doesn’t hit the front page like other quote-on-quote, “contemporaries,” or socially conscious rappers. He’s mainly independently marketed, which may be the one solution for it all, but with a guest list of features like the one above, maybe it’s just that Oddisee needs to get on more tracks, and get more recognition. The point is I guess, that I can preach here about how I liked the record, and how I think Oddisee should be more well known, and maybe that’ll work a bit if you check out the record after reading this, but it really comes down to Oddisee’s marketing and advertising. I’m not trying to say that The Good Fight is some amazing record no one knows about and everyone should hear it, I’m just saying that I really enjoyed it and he, at the very least, deserves more recognition then he’s been given.
Listen via Apple Music and Spotify.