Arts / Rapper with a serious, soulful side

Rapper Oddisee… “His music is quite soulful.” Photo by Michelle G Hunder

WHEN US artist Oddisee takes the stage at the ANU’s pop-up, live-music venue Molo Live, he’ll be playing to a fan base of soul and hip-hop lovers.

For Oddisee, born Amir Mohamed, is known as a serious music lover who has journeyed deep into the cultural roots of his mixed African-American and Sudanese parentage to create new music that speaks of the here and now.

He’s been to Canberra before and knows the scene well, but this time he’ll be appearing here for the first time with his band Good Company, formed in 2017. They’ll be supported by American singer-songwriter Olivier St Louis, Canberra hip-hop luminaries D’Opus & Roshambo, as well as iLLGato and Melbourne lyricist Remi.

Roshambo, Canberra’s most widely-travelled MC, has been helping “CityNews” to track him down during an Asian tour, but he proves elusive so we talk about him anyway.

He confirms rumours of Oddisee’s quality-style rapping, describing him as “one of the US’s most insightful rappers”.

Though raised in affluent Silver Spring, Maryland, he moved to Washington DC after high school and tackles issues such as social inequality, racial divides and everyday life through hip-hop and soul, with one critic describing him as: “A shrewd lyricist and observer”.

Always an individual, he was strongly influenced by early east-coast MCs such as Eric B. & Rakim and De La Soul and has said that because these rappers don’t talk about drugs or murder, he could always relate more to their lyrics.

Oddisee is a prolific composer with a burning passion for music of all kinds who stands out on the American music scene for not only writing all his own content but making all of his own music and choosing his “sampling” from his vast knowledge of world music.

Previously when visiting Australia, we learn, Oddisee has performed to backing tapes, but since he’s starting with Good Company he’s found a way to “replay” all the music that he’s written before, now with a live sound.

“His music is quite soulful,” Roshambo says.

“With a nod to world music, it’s suitable to be played by musicians – it’s not electronic stuff.

“There is a softer element to Oddisee’s music, it’s very relatable… like you are having a conversation with a friend; he talks about everything – everyday relationships, the environment and family – basically he has a keen eye for picking up what’s hot in social issues he talks about.

“There are no silly clichés, his music is very warm and he believes what he is singing about.”

Oddisee, at Molo Live, ANU, Saturday December 1. Book at moshtix.com.au

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Helen Musa
“CityNews” arts editor

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