Foot In The Door

Artist: OddiseeTitle: Foot In The DoorRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Paine

Washington DC producer/MC Oddisee stays busy. In two years, he's released several instrumental mixtapes, produced on Kenn Starr tapes, and official and unofficial remix tapes. For his lyrical talents, he consulted the legendary Jazzy Jeff to get on the CDJs to take it a step further. Foot in the Door (Halftooth) shows the more impressive elements of Oddissee's body of work, with production from Kev Brown and Nicolay with J-Live and Freddie Foxxx sliding through on the mic.

Despite his catalog of work, Oddisee may be a more interesting MC than he is behind the boards. "I Am Not Him" is an assertive criticism of Johnny-come-latelys, which succeeds over a mellow, much more passive beat. Jazzy Jeff blends this perfectly into "Nothing Sweet" as if it's merely a second verse over a new beat. "Gentrification," produced by Kev Brown, shows Oddisee tackling more concrete topics. He compares the Starbucks and Pottery Barn's arrival to the relocation of Magic Johnson Theaters and Bojangles in this lyrical show-stealer. When he's got something to say, Oddisee can hold the listener's attention tightly; when he's aimlessly bragging or criticizing the game, the music can be numbing.

Having previously been generically lumped in with soul-sampling producers, Oddisee's music appears to be finding its identity. "In Check" utilizes a chop-style that cannot be compared to 9th or Kev Brown. He knows this too, as the lyrics on "Butcher's Back" chronicle Oddisee's growth as well as the less able producers aiming for the sound. "Real Music" brings in live vocals in lieu of recycled vocals, suggesting Oddisee's ear for the R&B sound. "Four Seasons," relying on minimal piano keys and horn accents, also uses the soothing vocals from Olivier Daysoul to layer the image-driven love song.

For three years, Halftooth Records has resorted to the same personnel for their mixtapes and albums. Jazzy Jeff's cosign, along with his mixing abilities show Oddisee's body of work in its best light yet. This 34-track journey reveals an MC more commanding than many of his peers, and an evolving producer hungry for more work. Though an album remains unseen, Oddisee has affirmed he's got beats and lyrics to go.