Posted by: Dominic Umile | 01/27/2010

Close Listen: Oddisee, ‘Odd Winter’ Mixtape

Odd WinterD.C.-based Diamond District founder, MC, producer, and photographer Oddisee prepped his new Odd Winter mixtape for FREE download last week on Bandcamp. Soul & vintage funk loop-driven beats, fitted with extreme channel-panning snare cracks and frenzied sample edits — I’m really liking this. The classy instrumental joints are my favorite, and the tracks featuring UK emcee Tranqill aren’t too shabby, either. Downloads and more below.

While Odd Winter nods at the Native Tongues family, Oddisee’s nomadic tunesmithing leads him all over the plain, into melancholy hiss-and-pop crate digger production as well as toward chaotic, live-sounding psychedelia.

Despite calling it “Frostbit,” Oddisee marries raindrop synth tones and warm guitar loops for this interlude early-on, while his “Brain Wash Remix Instrumental” throws some shine on the rampant experimentalism that filters into so much of his work. When London’s Tranqill steps into the booth on jazz-tinged opener “Ci’iy Life,” Oddisee overlooks incorporating a beat at all — he needs only woozy wind chimes, piano, and a shimmering choral coda for Tranqill’s aptly spun portrait of his neighborhood streets.

Although the tambourine-trimmed break that Midwestern braggart Stik Figa rides on “Riight” is pretty dry, there’s a wealth of leftfield ideas that come to fruition elsewhere on Oddisee’s new mixtape. I imagine he was yawning when he strung “Riight” together, at least until Figa verbally stomped all over it. It’s a delirious few minutes that sound great over decent speakers, but it’s nothing compared to the chunky barrage of disconnecting drum sounds and fuzzbox guitar lines that spider across “Brain Wash Remix” or the fluttering percussive array behind “It’s Over” — I can almost visualize stoned and unshaven 1968-era Haight Ashbury hangers-on during the former, swaying along to its stop/start rhythm and near-disregard for continuity.

Oddisee can do straight hip hop beats that purposefully get where you want them to go, but it’s the off-kilter stuff he does, seemingly pulled out of nowhere, that completely knocks me out.

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