Updated: Apr 14, 2019
Venue: The Empty Bottle
City: Chicago, IL
Date: October 28th 2018
Mean It When I Said It
Bless me audiophiles for I have sinned. It has been 1 day since my last concert confession.
My first brush with a legitimate hip hop scene was when I moved to Minneapolis in 2006. Up to that point, my knowledge of a hip-hop community/scene was pretty much non-existent. Not a whole lot of heavy hitting rappers coming out of Cedar Rapids, Iowa and the only rapper who had 'made it' from St.Louis when I lived there was Nelly. And Chingy. Remember Chingy? He's still around...I think. Minneapolis at the time was mostly known for whatever Rhymesayers was rolling out. Doomtree was starting to pick up some steam but all they had was an EP and a few block parties under their belt. It was the first time I saw a community (first hand) fervently support the hip-hop that was being incubated from within instead of latching onto whatever Clear Channel was feeding them. It was hard not to get vacuumed into.
When I moved to Chicago last August, I expected the same. I was already invested in the Save Money crew (Vic Mensa, Joey Purp, Towkio, some guy named Chance...etc.) NoName, Open Mike Eagle and well there's Kanye West. Chicago has had a legit fckn rap scene for decades, but up to that point I had zero interface with the community itself. I assumed Minneapolis's would be tighter than Chicago's because it was smaller and it supports anything and everything homegrown. Almost to a fault. Some people in Minneapolis only know and care about Minneapolis hip-hop. I was wrong about Chicago. Far less homogenized, far more diverse in style and fan base and frankly a lot more authentic, well-versed and connected to the stories being told by the artists. The Minneapolis scene is getting a little more diverse, but it's still largely spearheaded by men and women who grew up middle class, relatively safe neighborhoods with relatively manageable life issues. There was gang violence on the north side, yes. Every now and again a racist cop shot an unarmed black man, and some people have to work 2 and 3 jobs just to get by. But mostly, the content is crafted by well-read, relatively well-adjusted and well off men and women (the majority of which are white.)
Oddisee is neither from Chicago or Minneapolis. He hales from Washington DC, but it was immediately obvious that a whole hell of a lot of Chicagoans know and love his work. This is the first time I've gotten to see him perform. His flow is buttery and rushes over you in waves. Waves of butter(...mmm...budddrrrr...) He bobs and weaves across the stage, bringing you with him, back and forth like Ali before he slips in a jab that robs you of your dignity. His lyrics almost feel academic and carry the weight of earnest truth with effortless supinity. If you had some soul crushing news you needed delivered without inciting a riot or making someone ugly-cry, Oddisee would be your guy for the job. He appeals to my pacifistic side more than most artists can come close to. The way he comes at difficult topics and perspectives allows you to understand and digest without feeling threatened, intimidated or alienated. A lot of rap seems to keep people who don't experience the injustices and difficulties the artist faces at a distance. Oddisee brings you into the truth and still manages to spare you the Minnesota niceties.
My thanks to Oddisee for the work, craft, earnestness and butters. All the butters.