For those used to rap not being too political, Oddisee can be a lot at once, especially since he’s a clean rapper (meaning that there’s no explicit language). His favorite rappers were Rakim and A Tribe Called Quest, artists that he told NPR “don’t talk about drugs or murder, and I can relate more to their lyrics.” He’s one of the top three Washington D.C. rappers, next to Wale and Goldlink, and held the Best Verse of January 2017 right here on the Roseandblog for The Iceberg cut “Like Really,” a track that tackles the new presidency’s hypocrisy.
“Like Really” is his best song to date, but his new record The Iceberg doesn’t fall too far from the catchy single. The hardest part about Oddisee is accepting that he isn’t going to be the kind of escapism through music one gets from listening to pop radio or Drake’s newest accent. Like the track “Hold It Back” where Oddisee exclaims that he can’t just sit idly by while he has the voice to talk about important issues such as Black Lives Matter, systematic racism, and police brutality, Oddisee stands true to his name. This is going to be a long and dense journey.
It helps that The Iceberg is his most “danceable” record thus far, but it’s all built to hold up his words. It’s easy to see that hooks aren’t Oddisee’s specialty, and that’s what makes “Like Really” that much of a standout success, but there’s something about the music on The Iceberg that makes it the catchiest of Oddisee’s records yet. It’s instrumentally diverse for one, including a smooth blend of guitar, drums, piano, and horns that experiment with rhythms like no other artist today. He might not be the “coolest” rapper around, but it’s honorable that he’s trying to make important talking points and issues within our society and government as entertaining as the escapist jams we put on our party playlists. Tracks like “Things” and “NNGE” are clear examples, and some of the more successful tracks on The Iceberg.
Even for a fan of Oddisee like me, I’m not always super entertained by his verses, especially since there aren’t really any other voices or breaks from his relentless truths, which makes Oddisee seem like a one man army. He’s one of the best rappers using hip-hop for social change in the game right now however, and until people start lining up behind him it’s going to feel like it’s Oddisee vs. the rap industry. Ten years into the game, he doesn’t have to prove his success or rap prowess. As much as The Iceberg might not be everyone’s go-to listen, tracks like “Like Really,” “Want to Be,” and “NNGE” are clear examples that it’s an important listen. All Oddisee wants to do is use his platform to promote change, and it’s one of my favorite things about him.