Saturday, December 27, 2008

If You Don't Know

In case you haven’t heard, Scarface has announced his retirement. Artists make these proclamations in the sand; Chinese Democracy owns that title, but Emeritus truly deserves your praise and respect. At the other end of the tunnel, Oddisee released the album I was hoping for like a fresh pair of Air Jordans.

Scarface is one of a few reigning champions from mafia era in Hip-Hop. While LA and NYC will always be remembered as the dominant forces, Scarface is half 2Pac, half Nas, all south-side Houston, TX. He never was huge on the Billboard charts or a poster-turnstile-god; but he owns respect in the neighborhood he rose from while his lyrics mastered the trials and brought “the code to the game” for nearly two decades. One lyrical grail that I think is often passed over is the Christian imagery that bleeds its way onto thug-scripture with every Scarface release. On "Can't Get Right (ft. Bilal)," Scarface ryhmes "America the Beautiful / there's a funeral on every day of the month / tryin to get our knees up / what we want / is another chance under these circumstances / My people ain't advancin, but if we pray / Maybe we'll get to live our lives in the sun 'stead of livin on the blocks dyin young." While the relationship between sin and survival isn’t new, there are few who own a reputation as real as their poetic skill. Emeritus is raw-cut Scarface, criminal confessions burning up in the Texas heat. Do your homework and educate yourself on one of the greatest MC’s still around today.

Oddisee declares on “iRap,” “Wayne say he the greatest rapper alive / Guess that make me the greatest rapper/producer alive/ Dilla rest in peace.” I was sold. Lil’ Wayne and Kanye West are the new era right? What about the great new releases by Ice-Cube and Q-Tip? Don’t they deserve the same respect? Class, take your seats, this is Oddisee 101.

Most criticism in recent memory has tried to divide Hip-Hop, including yours truly, into configuring an economic direction during an era of inflation. 101 voices a challenge to the machine from the inside out, flawlessly aware of his place and responsibility. His sly delivery matches the production skills, a definitive statement that he isn't confined to being just another producer who dabbles being the mic. Oddisee has learned to rhyme for the K.O, take a breath, and let his opponents suck for wind during the hook.

On 101 he takes his time, laying out his conflicts with presicion and insight. Delving into Black vs. Black vs. Brown conflict in a America vs. Islam world on “Camera,” a path to the top on his own terms on “A Song for That,” respect for the sex he loves on “Delusional (ft. Little Brother)” , and adding Flying Lotus to create some dream-funk on “The Perch (feat. Phonte, Tor);” Oddisee is challenging convention with nuclear purpose.

This is the album I have been waiting on, and am still waiting to get it in hardcopy. One of my 08' favorites.

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