Oddisee – ‘The Beauty In All / Tangible Dreams’ – Review

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The concept behind the next Oddisee release is something people are always anticipating. With so much diversity in his work it’s hard to tell what he’s got in store for us next. His last album ‘People Hear What They See’ gave us an insight into his more experimental style of production, using more live recording for his samples. He showed us he still has the capability to rap as well any contemporary US Hip Hop artist around. Before that, ‘Rock Creek Park’; an instrumental album, which is just as much R&B as it is hip-hop, for me, it was the album of 2011. With a few well made bonus EPs in the time since then, he hasn’t left his fans empty handed. ‘The Beauty In All’ is a 12 track instrumental album which comes with a bonus of his ‘Tangible Dreams’ in which he does showcase his lyricism. The projects are based on “the flaws and mistakes that give life its character and worth – how even ignorance can give light to knowledge.”

Oddisee’s Blues influences are a big characteristic of his work and there is no difference here. Tracks like ‘Fashionably Late and ‘No Rules For Kings’ among others, display this with their rolling hi-hats and smooth, jazz bass-lines yet with more modern hooks. This carries on to an extent with the instrumentals on ‘Tangible Dreams’.  The impact of this unique style of sampling is that Oddisee maintains a 90’s feeling whilst still appealing to a modern audience without losing any production value.

Any fan will know that placid melodies are one of Oddisee’s strong points; The opening ‘After Thoughts’ certainly shows this, When compared to songs like ‘Beach Dr.’ from his ‘Rock Creek Park’ album, his versatility in his drum programming is shown, switching from a more typical sampled earthy feel to a sharper trap style pattern in the track. However, moving with the times is something he hasn’t entirely succumbed to, ‘One Thing Right’ feels like a homage to those 70s soul samples that Pete Rock used to master, fused with Oddisee’s interpretation of a modern beat.

‘Tangible Dreams’ carries on in this vein. I was relieved that the elements of Oddisee’s instrumentals were clearly defined; although I enjoyed ‘People Hear What They See’, at times it seemed overly orchestral and lacking fluidity. It had a few classics, but overall, ‘Tangible Dreams’ seems like a more structured, well-rounded vocal release.

Oddisee’s rapping ability is often overlooked due to his skill with production. His southern accent sets him apart from many of his recent collaborative artists and gives his performance an edge, which makes his music distinctive. His lyrics are often descriptive and involve life situations and his interpretation of what he has become, examples of this include ‘Yeah & Nah‘ and ‘Killing Time’, where some rappers have a tendency to talk about themselves in an egotistical manner, Oddisee makes  clear his central point is not one of glamorization.

These two releases illustrate why Oddisee has the respect he does. Drawing influences from so many genres and sub-genres of soul music and adapting it to his own, constantly evolving sound.

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