Hailing from D.C. and with an impressive 10+ albums already behind him, multifaceted musician, MC and producer Amir “Oddisee” Mohamed has taken the meaning of concept album and completely redefined it in his own ideal and image. How so? By taking jazz and soul music, breaking it down, chopping it up and putting together a creation of his own to create something new and inspiring. Producing his own scores at times, the album is filled with breathtaking live piano and instrumentation. A perfect marriage of hip-hop and jazz that hasn’t been heard like this (by myself) in a long while. A stunning modernized effort that builds on the musical foundation of jazz/soul while adding touches of hip-hop throughout, the Rock Creek Park project is so solid and complete that it might be a bit ahead of its time. Or right on time for some of you.
Musically conceptualized around taking a sonic journey through Oddisee’s favorite childhood spot, he takes a bit of a break from rhyming to focus on building a wondrous visual landscape using only impressive compositions, loops and clever samples. Without words, each song flawlessly describes and illustrates a special place or moment in time at Rock Creek that has obviously stayed with Oddisee for a while. “Scenic Route To You” is perfect for giving you that “rollin’ in the car with your peoples after a nice concert and better drinks” feeling, “The Carter Barron” sounds like an awesome jam session gone absolutely right on a bright summer day while airy horns on “Beach Dr.” might just make it my new official jam/entrance music. Even in instrumental mode, Oddisee and yU (of Diamond District) manage to hit you with some ill rhymes on “Still Doin’ It” while crafting a catchy, ’80s break beat inspired jam called “Uptown Cabaret” that just might instantaneously start a dance party. Seriously. You might do the prep. Forewarning.
Standing on a platform of a strong discography, Oddisee delivers what might be his best effort to date. With stellar arrangement, musical innovation and impressive production skills, he reminds us all that modern jazz is still alive, and it can be great. This is the kind of album I want to break out a bottle of Riesling and chill to; the kind of album your kids will be sampling in 10 to 17 years. So impressive in fact, I will give it that extra .5 it honestly deserves. A personal thanks and shoutout to Oddisee for giving me something to start Autumn off right and keep on repeat for a while. A definite must listen. You will enjoy.