Just like any other genre of music, hip-hop has a passing of the torch from one generation to the next every now and then. While some proclaim that hip-hop is dead, there is a generation of emcees, producers and DJs who believe that hip-hop is still very much alive. At the forefront of this new generation is rapper/producer Oddisee, who by now needs no introduction.
The resident DMV artist gives hip-hop a soulful touch while maintaining a hard, neck-breaking thump. Coming off of Diamond District’s outrageously successful In The Ruff, Oddisee is poised for an all-out takeover. We got to catch up with him (no easy feat – he really is a traveling man) for some questions. Read on as Oddisee details his Odd Seasons EPs, thoughts on DMV hip-hop, and more.
PIMB: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us. How are things? What’s new in Oddisee’s world?
Oddisee: Pleasure is all mine. All is well, just on the road as usual trying to stay productive at the same time. I’ve got a slew of releases coming out this summer, both free and for sale.
PIMB: We’ve received the highly anticipated final piece to your four-part EP series dedicated to the seasons. Where did this idea come from? Do you have a particular season that fits you the best?
Oddisee: The idea of the Odd Seasons came to me in the form of my own playlist. I would often throw music on my mp3 player that reflected the season. I enjoy walking around DC, especially when I have my own soundtrack. I decided to really make it my own soundtrack and created a series of EPs that reflected the seasons’ effects on life. Fall is my favorite season but I’d say Odd Spring is my favorite out the four. Ask me that same question in winter and the answer might be different. LOL.
PIMB: You seem to be one of the forerunners of free hip-hop releases. In The Ruff was released for free as a clean version well before it retailed, and you’ve also released a number of free EPs. Given the current state of the music industry, do you feel that free releases are necessary for independent artists?
Oddisee: No. I feel free releases are necessary for me. There is no one-size-fits-all formula for artists anymore. For me, free releases generate potential buyers and shows. The free music is good, the live show is good, and the business is transparent. My supporters know that they actually support me. I take care of them and they take care of me.
PIMB: Let’s dig into musical influences. You have a varied cultural background. Did your mixed heritage have anything to do with what you came up listening to, and does it play a role in your music today?
Oddisee: My mixed heritage definitely influences my music. One of the main advantages my mixed heritage afforded me was traveling at a young age. Seeing the similarities and differences in music around the world inspired me. I love to incorporate different scales and drum patterns from other cultures into my music. I guess my heritage allowed me to have an open mind and even wider open ear.
PIMB: When you were growing up, which hip-hop acts had the biggest influence on you? Are there active artists today whose work you still admire?
Oddisee: The whole Native Tongues movement really influenced my preference in hip-hop. I still listen to everything I grew up listening to.
PIMB: You recently finished up a European tour with Trek Life, Diamond District, Blu, and Fashawn. Do you feel that the European tour experience is different than a North American tour? How so?
Oddisee: Touring Europe is definitely different from touring the states, but not for the reasons most would think. At the end of the day we still sell more records in the United States than anywhere else in the world. It’s the sheer size of the states that makes touring Europe a better experience. Drive two to four hours in Europe and you’re in a completely different country and demographic. Europe is smaller; major metropolises are near one another. It’s easier to string a tour together in Europe.
PIMB: In The Ruff is somewhat of an anthemic album for the DMV area. There are a number of artists, yourself included, who have really put a spotlight on DMV hip-hop. What is it about the DMV area that you are most proud of? Why is it so important for you to represent your region of the country through music?
Oddisee: I’m most proud of our ability to make great hip-hop, period. Representing my region is so important because I come from a region overlooked by most. I honestly think we’re making some of the best hip-hop right now, and I won’t stop until the world thinks so.
PIMB: You’ve got a number of collaborative and personal projects in the works. Shed some light on some of the albums that fans can expect in the future.
Oddisee: I have a slew projects coming out with numerous MC’s featuring me as the sole producer. These projects include Finale (Detroit), Stik Figa, (Topeka, KS) Tranqill, (London, UK) Trek Life (L.A.) and Olivier Daysoul. (UK via DC). Besides those projects I have a few beats on other artists’ albums, and I’m working on my solo album titled People Hear What They See. My solo album will come out late 2010.
PIMB: Are there any artists you would like to work with who you haven’t yet had the chance?
Oddisee: I’d love to work with Van Hunt, Kanye West, Kings of Convenience, Nipsey Hussle and Jake-One.
PIMB: What albums do you currently have on heavy rotation? Do you see any current underground artists that you think are poised to make some serious noise?
Oddisee: I’ve been rocking the Kings of Convenience album Declaration of Dependence hard. Besides that I haven’t had the time to listen to a lot of other material because I’ve been so busy working on my own. These days if I’m not working on my own music I read. It gives my ears a rest and allows me to get through some books I’ve been dying to read.
PIMB: Thanks so much for your time. Any last words for the readers?