The Stagedive: Artist Spotlight on Oddisee

Hailing from Washington D.C., Oddisee (aka Amir Mohamed) is a rapper who does solo work, is a member of the group Diamond District, and produces, as well. It’s safe to say he works his ass off, especially with some 25 (read that again: twenty-five) releases in the last 10 years between EPs, studio albums, instrumental work, and two albums with Diamond District…and then there are the guest appearances and production credits that top 30 pieces themselves.

So most of you, like me, must be asking why Oddisee and his work aren’t more well-known considering this volume of effort. Part of it may be a fickle music industry that opts into supporting what’s easy to spoon feed to the masses and get stuck in our heads, but ultimately he has chosen to keep himself from being thrust entirely into the spotlight. According to a 2012 interview with Complex, Mr. Mohamed explained that by avoiding becoming too big, he finds that new fan bases arrive with each album, therefore he’s constantly being discovered. His philosophy that “…there’s longevity in obscurity” certainly seems to work for him, as he’s still going strong and has continually performed all over the world.

All that said, we’re here for the music, and the music is nothing short of excellent. Mixing samples with live instruments, flows that range from east coast feel to southern style reminiscent of Outkast, and best of all, truth…better yet, let’s say honesty. Oddisee’s lyrics are intelligent, intriguing, inspiring, and often inquisitive; in the same line that he’s asking a question, he’s sending a message. One perfect example comes from “Like Really” off his newest album The Iceberg: “How you gonna make us great, when we were never really that amazing?” Politics, street life, growing up, racial divide, love, and so many other subjects all get covered across his catalog, and despite the inherent difficulty that comes with some of those subjects, the way he frames them creates a desire for dialogue. At the same time, Oddisee makes the unfortunate point in “Want Something Done” from The Good Fight that rap puts its emphasis on “glorifying music that’s abusive and a threat to us, and if you got a message in your records you’re collecting dust.”

Enough of my words, though, let’s get you to the playlist so that you can experience the goodness that is Oddisee. For those would like to know more, in addition to the interview with Complex, here’s an NPR interview from earlier this year.

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