Oddisee “You Know Who You Are” (2012)
Album: People Hear What They See
Label: Mello Music Group
Oddisee: “On that song, the first verse is about the people against you, ‘You don’t have to say their name, you know who you are.’ The second verse is the people that are there for you, ‘You don’t have to say their name, you know who you are.’ And the last verse is, ‘No matter what people tell you or try to convince you what you are, you yourself know what you are.’
“My man Trek Life called me the other day, and was like, ‘Yo, you’re one of my closest friends, so I know what all these lyrics are about. But with ‘You Know Who You Are,’ who are you talking about on the first verse?’ And I had to explain to him that on the first and second verse, I’m not talking about anyone specific. They’re the sum of several different people, and I’m talking about them as if they’re one person.
“Musically, earlier this year, I went to the Berklee College Of Music and got brass and strings done on the whole record. I was really influenced by listening to Feist, and using these big band types of dynamics and sounds in my music. On that one, the tubas and the strings and the horns, they really paint such a melodic picture. And my man Ralph Real is playing a synth on the chorus, but he came up in the church playing music, so they’re like church chords. And then the drums, I’ve got a beat break, but I’ve also got this electronic, syncopated clap.
“So when you listen to the song, it’s the live instrumentation element that comes from my influence, the church and soulful chord progressions that come from my mother’s side of the family, and the syncopation and the claps is like the Sudanese side of me and the way the East Africans play drums. And the lyrics are the sums of tons of different people in my life, and I look at myself on the last verse. It’s all of my musical and personal influences in one song. It may not be one of the bigger songs on the record, but it’s an important song for that reason.”