Oddisee: A Classic Alternative?


“Hip Hop speaks to me and for me. Being able to move people with speech is such a powerful thing,” Oddisee states. The Washington-based Sudanese American rapper recently released free album The Diamond District (“a raw, golden era, 90’s, east cost boom bap album for Washington DC”), the success of which projected him onto the covers and reviews pages of magazines and websites across Europe and Stateside.

But we’re here to talk about his activities back home. He describes his hometown, DC, as “The perfect blend of northern and southern culture. Not as slow as Atlanta but not as fast as New York. It has everything a city can offer and within a 20-minute drive, you could be in the countryside. It’s just well balanced.”

The city’s influence also extends to his “accent, drum patterns, subject matter [and] business sense“ in that it’s “all DMV.” “The avenues to get heard in DC were more like uncharted territories that required the clearing of forest to make trails. Along that trail you were lucky to find like-minded individuals that shared the same musical taste. If you did find them, convincing establishments to allow you to host events was an even bigger task. In a nut shell, difficult.”

These obstacles did nothing to shatter the artists’ passion. Describing the current scene he says, “Hip Hop in DC is in the mid ‘90s. Inner city youth are embracing the genre, originality is being stressed, venues want more of it; creativity is all around. It’s an amazing time to be an artist in the DMV,” he tells me, recommending fellow local artists Olivier DaySoul, XO, YU, Prover, RaTheMC, Kev Brown, Soulfull, Dunc & Toine.

Influenced by Dilla (“the reason I’m a producer MC”), Marvin Gaye (“the reason my music has a message you can still dance to”) and everything that rangers inbetween, is Oddisee “a classic alternative to the softer, safer sound of present Hip Hop”?

Marsha Gosho Oakes | Tamar Nussbacher Photography