Artist: OddiseeTitle: Instrumental Mixtape Vol. 1Rating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Paine
Oddisee may be the best producer in Hip-Hop that you probably don’t know yet. He has been cooking up heat alongside and behind Jazzy Jeff, Wordsworth, Talib Kweli, and J-Live. The Washington DC metro area producer was the sonic backbone of last Spring’s You Don’t Know the Half compilation. As a tide-me-over until new albums from him and close friend, Kenn Starr, Oddisee released this well blended mixtape, Instrumental Mixtape Vol. 1 (Halftooth) of exclusives, plus many of the gems in his growing discography.
The producer’s mixtape is a growing phenomenon. Last year, Ayatollah dropped an outstanding beat CD, So Many Reasons to Rhyme which made many (myself included) frontline Ayatollah fans. On that release, such as others, there is talking and choppy beginnings and ends to the tracks so that the next Ice Cube can’t jack. On this release, DJ K.O. deftly mixed the pieces so that not only does Oddisee get exposure, and promotion for his works, but this mix can play on the train as well as your next chill-out party.
Oddisee’s sound is growing quite distinct. He uses perfect timing in his drum patterns, while introducing light vocal samples and wonderful arrangements with organs, strings, and otherwise. A joint like, “Yesterday” captures so many emotions in the music, without following going the easy way out. “Lakeside” is a fabulous composition that utilizes melodies and hard-hitting drums to create an atmospheric mood for the listener. Still, if you’re expecting Oddisee not to put some umph in his production, you’re dead wrong. “Basmentality” is a choppy production with heavily layered sampling that any MC could wax ego over. Likewise, “Downtown Hustle” really plays on the vast strange arrangements of the 70’s Blaxploitation films, but jumbles in piano and fast drums to create a new spin on things.
Also included in the mix are Oddisee’s top selling single, “If” for Talib Kweli, Asheru, and Kenn Starr. Several of the vinyl-only instrumentals are mixed in here to add to the senses of those who already recognize Oddisee’s work. This is a solid hour of never-boring audiowork that satisfies the ear. Although it is a mixtape, Halftooth Records is considering throwing the mix to vinyl, which seems to be worthwhile.
As the work progresses, Oddisee is due much respect. The quality of the mix improves the overall outcome. With a variety of techniques, styles, and some signature formulas, Oddisee seems to be in the same field as J. Rawls, Madlib, and Jay Dee for his sheer musicality, and able to hold interest without an MC. If you’re at all into alternative Hip-hop albums, or find yourself enjoying good, unique production…this mixtape beckons your call.