Oddisee has been your favorite rapper’s rapper for a while, and if last night at the 9:30 Club was any evidence, he might be yours soon.
As a rapper, Oddisee’s delivery and flow sounds like sped up slam poetry – crisp, enunciated, and in stark contrast to the melodic warble employed by many of his contemporaries (which I admittedly enjoy as well). However, he really shines as an emcee and band leader with an eye for talent and an ear for crafting rich, complex tracks that very few can compare with. Supported by five other outstanding musicians, including guitarist Olivier St. Louis — who opened the show with an abridged, soulful set — it’s evident that these are all folks with deep musical knowledge. If you feel jaded by the seeming homogenous sounds of radio rap, then Oddisee is your remedy.
The PG County native might no longer call Northeast D.C. home since relocating to Brooklyn a few years ago, but it’s evident that he and his band – most of whom grew up in and around Washington – share a deep appreciation for our city. Last night’s show was both a love letter to D.C. and a “fuck you” to Donald Trump and his cronies – yet another example of the pointed resistance to the new administration in this city. There were socially conscious raps. There was clever wordplay and unusual time signatures. There were gorgeous instrumental segues. And unlike that weak pandering shit that many artists that come through town try to do (*cough, Drake*) there was some real honest-to-god go-go.
All in all, the audience were good value, echoing and mirroring the energy of the musicians laying it out on stage even on a steamy, hazy night. It was a fitting homecoming for a group of artists that represent the District, wherever they go. As the lights went up at 11 p.m., the six men stood across and smiled with evident satisfaction. Playing the 9:30 Club is an honor for many artists, but it’s got to be extra special to those of us with a deep, unwavering love for D.C. – no matter who is sitting in the Oval Office.