Friday, July 11, 2008

Current Beneath the Surface

Back in the mid nineties Hip-Hop was everywhere. In over just a decade it had crept from the streets of the Bronx, to growing in the household of Americana. Once the East vs. West thing came to a tragic ending, those in the Hip-Hop community needed time to slow down, reflect, leading to the rise in sub genre’s like "Organic Hip-Hop" and "Neo-Soul." Champion artists of this era, (Talib Kweli, Common, D'Angelo, etc.) tried to shift the spectrum of ideas in Hip-Hop, choosing a "grass roots" route over "the benjamins", on giving back to the community and culture. Even the mainstream got in on the act with The Roots teaming up with Jay-Z on MTV's Unplugged (which I love and is one of MTV's last great moments in musical relevancy.) Now with their best work behind them, the leaders of street Bohemia can be found at a diminishing well, (Mos Def/ True Magic), and trying new tricks…Peace, Love, GAP!?!? Where is a Resurrection when you need it?!! With the gangster world no longer in the dark and a conscience lost at the shopping mall, Hip-Hop is stalled looking for direction and new heroes to lead it.

The "indie" world has tried to enter the Hip-Hop ring since this decline, and from finding alternative voices/styles abroad (Dizzee Rascal, The Streets), to the hyping the explicitly absurd (Spank Rock), it would seem that eccentricity is the premium. MC's like Aesop Rock and MF Doom have landed on solid ground for some years and developed a strong following, but they own such distinct styles that holding up the same banner seems slighted and would probably be too exclusive to last.

Enter Oddisee. While calling him a hero for the next generation is reaching at best, especially since the "next big thing" has yet to really come into form, he is a fresh face that shows plenty of promise. Hailing from Washington, D.C., he got his start with DJ Jazzy Jeff and since then has taken his soul/funk-laden production to visible heights. Honestly, I am late getting to this album so you might already be up on this, but for those who don’t know, Foot In The Door (2006) delivers over thirty tracks, each goes down smooth, sinking deeper into a groove that warrants the hour plus stretch. It initially comes off as a mood album, since most don’t break the two-minute mark, acting more like beat samples more than actual songs. The longer cuts, often with guest MC’s, like “Boogie” featuring J-Live & Asheru, offer a glimpse of things to come. While this album was largely over shadowed, and rightfully so, by master producer J.Dilla’s (R.I.P.) Donuts*, Oddisee on Door has earned himself a place in line. It should be mentioned besides producing, he shows some talent for lyrics and delivery as an MC.

Until a full-length, main event, LP appears I will keep the megaphone out of your face and raise my hand from the corner, but when Oddisee gets his chance, I’ll be front-row. How many new faces in Hip-Hop deserve as much?

*If you don’t have Donuts? Get some!

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