First post this year, it’s safe say that I’ve been neglecting this space a bit with other things occupying my mind of late. Despite that though my love for music hasn’t lessened, it has in fact evolved. So many great artists out there and I’m quite privileged to be alive to witness most of them. One of whom is a cat not well known by many, Oddisee is his name.
Oddisee? Who is he?
Amir Mohamed el Khalifa, better known by his stage name Oddisee, is an American rapper and producer from Washington, DC. He is one third of Diamond District and was also part of the Low Budget Crew.
Oddisee was raised by his African American mother and Sudanese father, initially in affluent Silver Spring, Montgomery Co, MD, per a Scott Simon NPR interview on February 18, 2017.
According to a National Public Radio interview with el Khalifa, his family relocated in adjacent Prince George’s County which is one of the wealthiest African American counties in the nation but borders some of the DC area’s roughest parts. He eventually moved to Washington, DC after high school.
In 2010, Oddisee released Traveling Man on Mello Music Group. His Odd Spring mixtape was listed on the Washington Post’s Best Local Hip-Hop mixtapes of 2010. In 2011, Oddisee released Rock Creek Park (listen above), which was ranked as a Mixtape of the Week by Stereogum. This proves that the man has some serious credentials and talent to boot.
In 2012, he released the album titled People Hear What They See. The Beauty in All, his first instrumental release since Rock Creek Park, was released in 2013. In that year, he also released Tangible Dream. In 2015, he released The Good Fight. In 2016, he released the EP, Alwasta, and the mixtape, The Odd Tape. Oddisee is very versatile with a lot of stuff including a lot of jazz influences.
Style and influences
Oddisee was originally influenced by his parents’ heritages, combined with a hip-hop influence from his older cousins. In an interview with NPR, he explained why he was influenced by early East Coast emcees such as Eric B. & Rakim, De La Soul, and A Tribe Called Quest. He stated that these rappers don’t talk about drugs or murder, and he could relate more to their lyrics.
Check out one of my favorite freestyles from him, enjoy: