‘Good things come to he who waits’ so the saying goes. To think that there are actually negative reviews of Oddisee’s instrumental opus out there in the ‘interverse’. One can only assume that a constant diet of Trap Music and House Hop has gone to their heads. “This guy tries too hard” some of them said… “ooookaaay” (as I wind my finger round beside my head to make the universal sign for mad man). Those of us sane enough to appreciate ‘The Beauty In All’, were made to feel even more so when we found the Tangible Dream mixtape, tacked onto the end of it.
Oddisee is an MC with a rational eye and a producer with a broad stroke brush. His rhymes don’t shout, they explain. His beats don’t swagger, they swing. Drugs, guns and money are words he only uses as part of a bigger picture. When listening to Tangible Dream, his tracks don’t share that typical thread found in other producers work. Though obviously a Hip Hop specialist, his style beyond that cannot be typecast. Jazz Hop, Boom Bap, Percussive, Progressive, Samples, Synths, live instrumentation, all these and more can be found on what I consider to be one of the years best Hip Hop releases.
Upon hearing the marching band drums and not much else on the opener, also called ‘Tangible Dream‘, I did think for a second that Oddisee had gone all Kanye on us, (you know as well as I do that Kanye lost old fans as well as gaining new ones when 808 came out). Then the rich bass line and snare arrives and all is right with the world once more. Next comes the superb stand out. “I know that Yeezus was a mortal man / Hov ain’t Jehovah he’s a normal man” (get it?), is the hook as Oddisee schools those who need it on the misguided culture of celebrity over talent.
Have no fear though, the biggest stand out may only be track two, but the standard he sets throughout is so high that ‘very very good’ is the lowest grade I can give any one song and that isn’t too often. The variety of inventive drums and lush backdrops that take in gospel choirs, jazz ensembles, spacey synth keyboards, off kilter vocal samples, anthemic strings and an awful lot in between, is top notch and you won’t hear the same thing twice. But don’t make the mistake (as I did initially), of being completely taken in by the songs and miss the mic skills with substance.
Oddisee is not afraid to show his emotions, freely admits that he isn’t perfect and does so regularly. He exposes his emotional fallibility on ‘Back Of My Mind‘. He contemplates living a happy life as oppose to the good life on Tangible Dream. He expands on that on ‘Own Appeal’, with words on living your life as best you can while appreciating what you have. And he espouses the fall out from a broken relationship on ‘The Goings On’.
There is a clear goal with this mixtape. The man is not merely rapping for rappings sake. He is conveying a message that, with the state of mainstream music being such as it is, is an apt one. The fact that he is able to impart that message over such a wonderful assortment of beats is all the better. Tangible Dream is one man’s interpretation of not being rich but being happy. Not living a fast life but living a good life. Not being successful for success’ sake but being a success because you are good at what you do. It is about not selling false dreams to us, the listeners. It is a statement to counter the material ideals promoted by other artists. Oddisee is using Tangible Dream, and by consequence great Hip Hop, as his example.