In the last few years, the Washington D.C. area has officially cemented itself on the hip-hop map. There has been an underground rap scene brewing in and around the Chocolate City for quite some time, but with the national success of artists like Wale, the rest of the country has started to take more serious notice. And one of the artists that is starting to obtain the exposure he so rightfully deserves is producer/MC Oddisee.
Oddisee, a founding member of the Low Budget Crew, and primary supporter and component of the DMV (D.C./Maryland/Virginia) movement, got his first major album credit on Jazzy Jeff’s The Magnificent in 2002, rapping and producing on “Musik Lounge.” From there, his career began to bubble, as he toured across the country and overseas, and recorded with popular artists in and out of the D.C. area, including Talib Kweli and Little Brother.
As the strength of the blogosphere took underground hip-hop to new levels in the late 2000s, Oddisee took advantage, releasing a slew of mostly instrumental compilations online, such as his Odd Seasons series and Rock Creek Park, and rap projects in collaboration with other DMV affiliates, most notably as one-third of rap group Diamond District (he produced and rapped on their entire debut LP In The Ruff), and with fellow Maryland hip-hop head and Hot 97 underground aficionado Peter Rosenberg on A Rosenberg Oddisee.
In 2012, Oddisee is rapidly gaining notoriety. His proper solo debut LP People Hear What They See, which is out today on Mello Music, has been met with a plethora of positive press. And his lead-up free EP Odd Renditions, which dropped last month, was praised with equal amounts of accolades, especially with the success of his Marvin Gaye “Ain’t That Peculiar (Remix)” video, which currently has accumulated close to 150,000 YouTube views. It’s long overdue, but Oddisee is finally being recognized as one of the premier underground hip-hop producers on the mic in the industry.
To ensure that new fans of Oddisee are up to speed on the wealth of gems he has in his catalog, we got on Skype a few days ago with him while he was out in London to have him tell us the stories behind his 15 most essential songs. And he kicked the truth on how Talib Kweli was paid to rap on one of his early tracks, how his transition into making beats from the ASR-X to the computer upset some hip-hop purists, the reasoning behind the birth of the DMV movement, and how most of the songs on his new solo album are four years old.
As told to Daniel Isenberg @StanIpcus