Call Oddisee underrated at your own peril. Two months ago a rap journalist made the mistake of depicting as such the Brooklyn-based underground favorite, which ended up eliciting a thoughtful retort from the artist himself.
Rejecting the backhanded compliment, the Prince George's County, Md.-raised producer/MC pointed out that he has thousands of fans worldwide and each tells him that he's undeservedly unsung. "Maybe you guys should talk to each other," he cracked.
That's not bad advice. After all, Oddisee is one of the rare figures who earns almost unanimous respect from critics who sneer at all things boom-bap and those who love it. He received a heavy push from Hot 97 subterranean vanguard, Peter Rosenberg, and on the Okayplayer Message Board, he may as well have a platinum plaque. His music is regularly pressed on underground rap's most consistent imprint, Mello Music Group. If anything, he is properly rated.
He isn't a "mainstream" artist, nor is he likely to be anytime soon. And that's OK. As he points out, he makes a living making rap music. He releases the music he wants, when he wants. He tours all over the world. Even if he never cracks Clear Channel playlists, at least he never was pressured into making a "Show Goes On."
Oddisee's aesthetic is ruggedly anti-commercial. In the vein of Madlib, Oddisee creates his own strain of purple-tinted modern funk, full of old samples artfully repurposed. His beats have a soul and his vision has a clear sense of identity. Even though he's moved north, he still reps his DMV home base hard (that's the Washington D.C.-Maryland-Virginia area).
His latest, "Odd Seasons," drops Tuesday on Mello Music. A collection of free EPs released throughout the last 12 months, it showcases a remarkable consistency and attention to detail. And unlike many of his underground peers, he knows how to write a song.
Download: Oddisee -- "I'm From PG" (MP3) (Pop & Hiss exclusive)
Today, Pop & Hiss premieres "I'm From PG," an ode to his hometown. For those new to Oddisee, it's a worthy introduction: sinuous soul music firmly rooted in a sense of self and place. If people call him underrated, it's because others don't realize that there are notable others who are odd.
-- Jeff Weiss
Photo: Oddisee. Credit: Facebook