Words by Phelps
DC’s Oddisee is no stranger to making moves. From his well documented travels (check the great pics) on his own blog to his recent relocation to Brooklyn, an aversion to sitting still is evidenced in the myriad styles he blends effortlessly on track after track. At first listen, the soulful tracks on Oddisee’s latest offering, Rock Creek Park, are evocative of Blueprint era Kanye without aping the style. The opening track, Still Doing It, is a brilliant trip through DC courtesy of Diamond District partner yU’s Sunday afternoon flows from creek-side bike rides to cruising Pennsylvania Ave. We caught up with Oddisee to give some words on each track streaming below. You can catch him Sunday at the Black Cat when he and plenty of his DC compatriots grace the stage before Talib Kweli’s Idle Warship.
I knew I wanted to have at least one vocal feature on Rock Creek Park. I wanted the album to go in and out of genres but at its core I wanted it to be a Hip Hop record. You’ll notice that the first & last songs on the album are the most obvious Hip Hop tracks. I guess that was my way of saying that regardless of what direction I go in, I came in Hip Hop and I’ll end Hip Hop. yU has one of my favorite voices in Hip Hop, he was the perfect MC to capture that DMV swag I was looking for to make this track a local favorite. The bass line on this beat is my attempt at playing a similar line to a famous Bob James loop. Hint… classic Ghostface track used the actual loop. Slapped some congos in and swung them drums to give it that DC flavor. The Blackbyrds let you know what we were up too; yU & I wanted to let you know we’re still rocking in the park.
Second track in and surprise, bring out the jazzy vibe. Here’s what this album is really about, musicality and the fusion of samples and live instrumentation. Arrangement and order of an album is just as important as the tracks themselves. “Skipping Rocks” takes on the responsibility of setting the tone of Rock Creek Park. The piano line is meant to give the listener a nostalgic feel & the guitar played by Martin McDonald was done to make you feel as if you’re daydreaming. There’s nothing like strings and brass to interject emotion into music. Bitter sweet, triumphant, reminiscent…All words I used to describe what I was looking for to the musicians.
Here comes another reminder that this is a Hip Hop record. The Carter Barron is an amphitheater located within Rock Creek Park. I haven’t seen any Hip Hop shows there but if there were to be, what would it sound like? This is the track that I wanted to inspire MC’s to rhyme on but second guess. I suppose the Carter Barron is my Carnegie Hall. If I was ever to perform there to a sold out Washingtonian crowd, I’d feel like my practice paid off and that I could make it anywhere. (Anywhere within the 495 beltway) I brought Jon Laine in to at rolling overhead drums to give it a live feel. Dennis Turner did exactly what I wanted him to do with the bass, make it roll! Ralph Real sealed the deal by adding amazing piano chords and lines: definitely one of my favorite tracks on the album.
The album runs the full gambit of musical taste, it’s everything I’d want to hear in the park in any scenario. I’m sure these tracks evoke different feelings from different people. At the root of it, I guess, I’m still making music for the way it makes me feel. Good to know that being selfish isn’t always a bad thing.