Oddisee, born Amir Mohamed el Khalifa, has carved a niche out over the years as one of the hardest working producers in the industry, as he has released more than a dozen records through various labels.
His most recent record, Rock Creek Park, is a collection of universally chill instrumentals that was received well by hip hop enthusiasts as well as fans of live orchestra. With People Hear What They See, listeners get to hear something rare: a music producer rap over flawless live instruments and effects that he himself crafted for his own use. This is his first album he has decided to rap over every track.
Influenced by his family history and upbringing, he infuses his music with wide-ranging soul and hip-hop vibes. Lyrically, Oddisee musters up an honest wisdom that evokes a sincerity across all of his works, whether that be his instrumentals or emcee endeavors.
In People Hear What They See, the instrumentation is what I initially honed in on as I began to listen. Tubas, trombones, saxophones, and other devices surface as Odd glides over beats with a tone reminiscent of indie rapper, Murs, although more subdued in flair.
A handful of instruments including a prominent violin accompanies progressing drums and synthesizers in “Ready to Rock,” one of my favorites from the album. “You Know Who You Are” offers the lesson that no matter what others say or failed to say, you must know who you are. The acoustic version is even more powerful than the album version, as well. Be sure to check that out.
Oddisee humanizes himself throughout the project as well as evidenced by the revelation that the subway is his car (Do It All).
Continuing on, “That Real,” one of the first tracks recorded for the album a few years ago, has stood the test of time, for, no matter how many days passed, Odd kept finding himself enthralled by the enormity of the track. Fittingly, it still is a great listen today.
Also, although not able to read music himself, Oddisee recorded live sessions with Berkley students for the sounds behind “Let It Go.” He reveals that the bonding he experienced with the orchestra really allowed him to spill out his insecurities and his strengths on the track as well. His thoughtful wisdom is showcased as the listener steps into Oddisee’s mind and feels his mother’s influences as he flows,
“When things fall apart
I build them back, I don’t ditch
Folding under pressure,
carry more than I can take
These pockets full of weight
with the fact that I gotta sit back
With the cards I was dealt”
Many would say that Oddisee should stick to making beats and should have treaded more cautiously into the emcee waters that lie offshore from his area of expertise— production. However, I feel that great language has exactly the same properties as great music and Oddisee transitions between the two very well.
This album is definitely a perfect example of the producer-turned-rapper success story. I’m on my sixth time through the album already, and I can tell you this, it only gets better with each listen.
Thumbs Down: ……..