Oddisee Foot in the Door

Since first making his presence felt back in 2002 on DJ Jazzy Jeff’s Magnificent album, Washington DC producer/MC Oddisee has been lighting up hip-hop’s cavernous underground with a string of (largely instrumental) prequels to a proper full-length with no estimated time of arrival. This latest set — a mix-tape seamlessly laced by the aforementioned DJ — works as a kind of "greatest cuts” collection, culling together both released and unreleased material from the producer’s catalogue. With a style that can best be described as walkman hip-hop, the type that elicits that easygoing head nod, Oddisee’s sound is deceptively laidback; his diverse arsenal of sounds and generous use of altered walking instrumental parts add depth and require a certain degree of attention to pick out. Oddisee backs up that solid beat work with some high grade mic skills, dishing out streams of poignant social commentary along side like-minded mic men J-Live, Asheru and Kev Brown on a number of tracks here. What’s surprising (though surely unintentional) about the record’s chosen mix-tape format, one that reduces many of the dimmer cuts to a single verse, is that you never feel like you’re missing anything, as if you’re truly getting only the man’s best. Perhaps more artists should go this route. (Halftooth)