In hip-hop, consistency is a term that can be used to describe an artist’s body of work. A consistent artist is able to continuously put out projects that reach expectations, or even exceed them. However, there is only a handful of rappers that actually live up to this standard. Amir Mohamed el Khalifa a.k.a. Oddisee is one of these individuals. For years, Oddisee has been making a name for himself in the genre. As one of the core artists on the Mello Music Group label, he has been able to expand his creativity to a great degree. I came to know Oddisee through his instrumental tape Rock Creek Park, a smooth, groovy, boom-bappy joy ride that I consider to be a classic modern beat tape. With Oddisee however, the term “beats” doesn’t sufficiently describe his instrumental music (mind you he is also a rapper, a good one might I add). Oddisee’s production is extremely layered and varies in taste. It’s a wonderful blend of jazz record samples, warm synths, and live instrumentation. One my favorite aspects of his production is the percussion, which always seems to come through raw and crisp on his tracks. I am happy to report that all of the above comes through heavy on The Odd Tape, which may be one of his best instrumental works to date.
When you’re listening to this album you may notice the cover art. The beat maker himself smiling to the side while holding a cup of coffee (presumably). To me, cover art is a very important, and underrated, factor in the listening process. Album artwork displays the type of sounds and vibes the artist is going for. In this case, the artwork and music align perfectly. The tracks on this album are laid back, jazzy, and likely tracks you would hear in some indie/hipster coffee house. However, I also see it as morning music. Music you can start your day to. The track “Right Side Of The Bed” is a perfect example of this. Literally this track sounds like waking up on the right side of the bed. From the serene saxophone to the upbeat percussion (not to mention the beautiful background piano), this track has all the qualities needed for a song that you can play in your car early in the morning on your way to work. Tracks like this are a plenty on this project, including a personal favorite “Silver Lining”. This track continues the mellow, morning-friendly vibes with a guitar lick that’ll instantly make you melt into your seat. While this is definitely music you can play in the morning, the entirety of the album feels like a day in the life of Oddisee himself. The track listing certianly implies this with tracks like “Out At Night” and “Still Sleeping”. I could easily picture a track like “Silver Lining” being the soundtrack to a sunset at dusk. Honestly, this album could be played at any time of day thanks to the relaxing nature of Oddisee’s production
Although the good vibes are consistent throughout this album, it does not stop Oddisee from displaying his versatility on the boards. Songs like “Brea” (my favorite track) and “Born Before Yesterday” are more percussion-driven, and stray away from the warmer, synth-driven tracks that come before. “Brea” is a track driven by drums, with very minimal piano samples in between, giving it a very cool vibe. However, the song accelerates into a grandiose chorus that includes some very triumphant horns and some seriously loud, banging cymbals. It’s one of the simplest, yet varied tracks on the album and struck me because of its rapid change in attitude throughout. “Born Before Yesterday” is probably the least “upbeat” cut on the project. The track is definitely a builder. It begins with a warped sample (possibly synth?) and gradually builds steam thanks to some stellar percussion. It’s one of the most unique tracks, and helps expand the project’s diversity.
At 12 tracks this album is somewhat short. However, with each song being nearly 4-5 minutes, it does not feel this way. Thanks to the meticulousness of Oddisee’s production, this album kept me entertained throughout and had instant replay value. Fans of his previous work should be more than satisfied with what this tape has to offer. In fact, I think this album is very accessible and does not have to be limited to the ears of your average hip-hop head. The positive vibes and the smooth, jazzy production can certainly be relatable any individual looking for music to get them through the morning and the rest of the day. There really isn’t much more to say. On The Odd Tape, Oddisee continues to prove his talent, and further cements himself as one of the greatest modern hip-hop producers we have today. Another solid entry to what is already an excellent album catalog.