Album Review: Oddisee – The Iceberg [Mello Music Group, 24th February 2017]

Welcome to Oddisee’s The Iceberg, where the obvious is not a third of what is not obvious: Look under cold water and you will encounter miles of commentary, innuendos, etc. His album is pleasantly loud but lacks in the originality of big-budget hip-hop, perhaps because he didn’t have the money to pay for the very best production. Nonetheless, it’s an entertaining album that any hip-hop fan will enjoy.

More than the album’s title, his rap nom de guerre Oddisee, or voyage, manifests this album. In other words, we are taken on a voyage through his thoughts on identity and how experience moulds identity, and the architecture that is thought put to beat melody; pleasing sound. “I’m a phoenix”, he says in “Built By Pictures”, spot on about the modern condition, where visual culture can be deathly and ask of us to be reborn to find our humanities. “On this song, I’m gonna tell you how I feel” he raps in ‘Hold It Back’ a great dance tune, where he also says, “I’m a contemporary man”, along with, “every time we restarted, we going to push the demons into the closest,” and that “we are keeping logic hostage”; we hear his maturity, put on kinetic display.

Maturity is what there is to dance to on this album, though it is entitled The Iceberg. Icebergs inspire fear, and it’s not the case. ‘Right and Wrongs’, ‘Rain Dance’. ‘NNGE’ is the album’s highlight as the best dance song on the album, classical dc gogo exalting maturity.

An archaeology of this album: Once upon a time, leftist black politicians co-existed with conservative black preachers in American cities in a fight to expand black consciousness. This fight to bring secular or religious epiphany has become folk activity in the American cities of the 21st century for blacks, wherein black men and women believe that white domination is their obstacle to sublimity, the sort that shall make any child smile and bring dignity to any member of ogre-like American society’s proletariat or lumpenproletariat. Such activity now fuels hip-hop.

Oddisee’s raps are straightforward sounding, simple in language, but ask for the listener to sit through to connect the dots and come out with a narrative, an autobiographical one that celebrates maturity that has come with age. “You grew up”, as it is sung, illustrates this. In African and Caribbean societies, twins are prized for their power, but more than twins, the child that comes right after, named Dogwe in Haitian Vodou, is supposed to be all powerful. The Dogwe is either in reality or metaphorically able to live under water. For The Iceberg, make yourself Dogwe and swim under cold waters to gain access to a novel of an album, instead of just dance, as the tip of the iceberg promises.