Not so long ago we posted the lead single, That’s Love, from Oddisee‘s forthcoming album The Good Fight and we absolutely loved it. Well that self-produced album has now arrived and is officially available to purchase from iTunes or BandCamp so we thought we would review the Mello Music Group artist’s eighth solo studio album (he’s released a lot of material to date so do let us know if our calculations are wrong). Before we get started, you can stream the whole album below so whether you agree or disagree with our opinion let us know in the comments.
Born Amir Mohamed, Oddisee is one of the most ridiculously underrated artists of our time in terms of making rap music. Skilled on the production front as well as on the microphone, his work rate is incredible when you look at his musical output; not only just in terms of quantity but quality too.
The twelve-track album kicks off with the upbeat lead single That’s Love. A song full of energy with keyboard synths throughout, an incredible drum loop that makes you feel like you’re sitting next to the drummer with Oddisee’s fast-paced rhymes explaining what defines a true love over it all. The chorus on this song is something special; the drums and keyboard are supplemented by perfectly placed horns and just makes us want to dance.
Want Something Done is more of the typical Oddisee sound we’ve heard on previous projects. The live-sounding drums are ever-present but now with piano keys interlaced and the rhymes are slowed down to a more conventional speed. The song highlights the potential struggles with working with others in the music industry and especially “culture vultures”.
Counter-Clockwise continues the jazzy boom bap sound but with the xylophone giving the song a unique twist.
“The song explores the counterproductive nature of some relationships that end up draining those involved. Disorienting and complex layers of backsliding record slips, driving drums, and haunting vocalizations push the song forward while Oddisee’s crisp and calm vocals tell the story of people moving in different directions. And while anger may be somes primary drive, and fire may be their weapon, Oddisee reminds us that water is their easy match.”
The video was shot during a particularly cold spell in the eastern United States and involved being in the freezing cold for several hours whilst walking backwards. In editing, the video was played in reverse to give the desired effect you see above. This album, like all his previous work comes across as honest and personal to him, this is further demonstrated on Belong To The World when he raps “I be in the lobby in a party where I feel strange. Never was the cool dude, never was a suave guy, more like the odd guy. Want a woman to root to, never wanted to be the type that they were used to“. The song covers the subject of where Oddisee sees himself belonging in the world and how others try to label him. Although the snare on this packs a particular punch, the piano keys in the instrumental are the real stand out aspect of the beat and the song as the whole.
Book Covers is truly one of our favourite Oddisee songs of all time. The beautiful vocals during the intro sung by the very talented Nick Hakim, the words accompanied with the impeccable flow and the beat all come together for one great package. Rather predictably, the song’s theme is about everyone’s tendency to judge other without getting to know them; a trait that Oddisee admits to having himself on this track.
“Don’t judge a book by its cover if you don’t even read. There’s no shame in saying that you’re not up to speed. Oh, you’re just scared.”
Then two-thirds of the way into the song the instrumental alters to give more focus to the piano keys and the drums. This focus on what sounds like live instruments has always been a huge part of Oddisee’s music but as time goes on it feels like it becomes more prominent in his work.
Broken promises seem to be the focal message of Meant It When I Said It. It anecdotally goes through scenarios in which he’s been misunderstood or when said something and then wasn’t able to follow through. There’s so many interlaced instruments in this beautiful instrumental it’s difficult to even identify each one (there’s definitely some drums in there though). Worse Before Better has got some very funky elements that immediately make you think of James Brown sampled records, but conversely Tranqill‘s London accent at times makes it sound way more forthright and aggressive.
All things considered there’s no question that this is Oddisee’s best album to date. Much like the rest of the Mellow Music Group roster, such as Rapper Big Pooh and Open Mike Eagle, Oddisee is pushing himself and constantly evolving. As result not only does the music itself become more refined, but as an artist his experiences are reflected in the new music he makes. The Good Fight is definitely worth your hard-earned cash and we’re confident you’ll love it on the first listen and in fact appreciate it even more as time goes on; listen to the whole thing below.