Album Review: Oddisee’s “The Iceberg”

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Oddisee’s latest album, “The Iceberg” is an album of substance and character. If you were looking for straightforward commercial rap please return to your Spotify and continue searching.

On the YouTube page for the song “Things” Oddisee lays out his vision for the album in somewhat grandiose terms. Essentially, he wants his audience to think more. He sets the tone on the first track; both the title (“Dig Deeper”) and the refrain (“Let’s get into to it”) suggest that Oddisee isn’t into releasing 12 tracks of bangers or forgettable songs. He’s into challenging his listeners a bit (though not too much). This is hip-hop for those who don’t mind sitting down and listening.

Wait, wait, wait; I just realized that I made Oddisee sound boring. He’s not. He’s a great lyricist with a good flow. The production on the album is upbeat and uplifting. Lead single “Things” pretty much nails the sound of the album. Oddisee and his band Good Compny performed the live instrumentation on the album and Oddisee produced all the tracks at his studio in Brooklyn.

So but the album has soulful production and meaningful lyrics which makes it the conscious hip-hop you’ve been looking for. “You Grew Up” explores race relations and the way our beliefs change as we mature; the song includes an anecdote about Oddisee and a White childhood friend with whom he grew apart when the latter’s father was laid off. “NNGE” features Toine and it pretty much functions as an open letter to Oddisee’s community as the song is dedicated to the greater D.C. area.

Some of the tracks are unremarkable (“Want to Be” and “This Girl I Know” come to mind); not bad, but they don’t leave much of an impression. “Waiting Outside” has an intro that sounds like it’s going to lead to a song that is a departure from what most of the album sounds like, but the track ultimately has the same pace that the other songs have.

For the most part, however, Oddisee dazzles with his fast rhymes and earnest lyrics. The last half of the album isn’t quite as conscious as the first half. Or rather, the consciousness didn’t seem as noteworthy. The album’s charm starts to somewhat wear off as it progresses. A slightly varied approach might have helped, but Oddisee was a man on a mission. To that end he basically got there. “The Iceberg” gets a B+.

This is Oddisee’s third release in twelve months. The other two were a mixtape (“The Odd Tape”) and an EP (“Alwasta”). You can stream the album here.

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