We get a lot of records sent to us here at The A.V. Club. Fortunately, we end up liking some of them. In Playlisted, we share our latest recommendations.
Album: People Hear What They See by Oddisee (out on iTunes June 5 and wide release by Mello Music Group June 12)
Press play if you like: Live instrumental hip-hop; vintage soul beats; early Kanye West sans the chipmunk voices
Some background: Oddisee is one third of Washington D.C. rap trio Diamond District, whose 2009 album In The Ruff was a great throwback to hard-nosed, boom-bap hip-hop. Oddisee is a prolific producer; he has released more than 10 albums and mixtapes since 2005, and in 2009 and 2010 produced four instrumental EPs, each themed to match the mood of the corresponding season. His 2011 album Rock Creek Park was one of the finest instrumental hip-hop releases of the year, comprising vital beats, live horns, strings, and drums paying tribute to the sprawling, iconic park in his native D.C. People Hear What They See is the first album on which Oddisee raps on every track, but it’s the beats that’ll draw listeners in. As lush and organic as any of the instrumentals he’s released in the past, the beats are effervescent. They cleverly shift in response to lyrical stimuli and each manages a quiet complexity without making use of a single sample (save for album closer “Think Of Things”). The raps aren’t as grabby, but Odd’s earnestness and sagacity start to impress as he confesses ambitions, indicts politicians, and reveals a soulful, if occasionally crotchety, personality.
Try this: Opener “Ready to Rock” makes use of a tuba, skittering drums, and violin as Oddisee baits and switches on the verses, starting with a measured slow-flow and launching into double-time at the beginning of the second verse. “That Real” probably has the best beat on the album, punctuated by horn stabs and building up to an ecstatic, brassy chorus.