It must run in the family. Either that or the name. How else do you explain Oh No’s proficiency as producer and rapper. Born Michael Jackson, Oh No is Madlib’s younger brother, trumpet player Jon Faddis’ nephew, and soul singer Otis jackson’s son. High expectations!
But Oh No always delivers. Signed to Stone Throw, he’s been releasing great records since 2004, with seven to his name, and another four as collaborative projects. The man is constantly pushing the boundaries of hip-hop by incorporating old Ethiopian, Greek, or Lebanese records into the mix, sampling great Canadian composers and Blaxploitation films, or releasing psychedelic instrumental-only albums.
Only Oh No the rapper is missing from this new release, Disrupted Ads, solely appearing to spit alongside long time collaborator the Alchemist in “Rollin’ Up”. But it’s OK, because Oh No has enlisted his famous and not-so-famous friends to rap for him, serving as an excellent promotional tool for them and a good opportunity for listeners to discover new artists. Blu, Chali 2Na, and Souls of Mischief are the ones you’ll instantly recognize, while Roc C and Declaime are there to represent Oh No’s home town, Oxnard, Calif.
The beats, mostly unreleased cuts from other albums, change as fast as your attention span, meaning you won’t get bored listening, with sounds recalling superhero movie soundtracks and video games (Oh No is an avid gamer). The album moves sonically from obnoxious synths on “Trapped In” and “Rollin Up” to smoky, sexy vocals on “Drifters” and quirky noises that will tickle your ears on “Creepers”.
Openly bipolar, Oh No talked about these shifts in a recent interview: “Negative to positive, sometimes positive to negative… kick ass then make a kick ass beat.” Positivity and good energy permeate the album, however, and with jazzy interludes and the occasional live instrument, the album exhumes a warm and feel good vibe, characteristic of recent West Coast records.
Disrupted Ads lives up to its title, with old recordings of adverts chopped up and sprinkled throughout the record. Is this a commentary about the over saturation of advertisements in media today? Well, we’re not quite sure. Since the album features 14 different vocalists, it’s pretty difficult to grasp any thematic link within the lyrics. One thing’s for sure, with countless references to cigarettes and green, Oh No wants you to light up.
This album isn’t made for the club, more for laid back paper rolling, shit talking, and head nodding. It feels like a gift, to the rappers Oh No is helping by showcasing their music, to the artists whose music he gives a second life, and to us, the listeners. Disrupted Ads walks the line from gangster to clean, impolite to serene, for friendly smokers of green. . . OH NO BACK ON THE SCENE.