An Oddisee Crash Course: From PG to NYC


One of the most intriguing new voices in hip-hop, Maryland MC Oddisee has amassed one of the most loyal word-of-mouth grassroots fanbases in indie-rap today. Acclaimed for his work both behind the mic and behind the boards (he’s produced for Talib Kweli, Freeway and Homeboy Sandman), what makes Oddisee stand out is how his strong roots in rap tradition allow for him to thrive with a strong, entirely fresh sound. Oddisee rolls into Public Assembly tonight to support his new album, People Hear What They See, one of the year’s strongest sleeper hits. We decided to mark this occasion and help initiate those still sleeping on him by looking at some of our favorite Oddisee songs.

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strong>Oddisee – “I’m From P.G.” 2010

Boosted by a 2010 NPR write-up, Oddisee’s “I’m From P.G.” introduces him as an artist by acquainting the listener with where he’s from. The way he describes his relationship with Maryland’s Prince George’s County is more than just a standard hometown anthem, but rather displays what makes the city just outside of Baltimore such a unique place. Even if listeners hadn’t heard of P.G. County before, the way Oddisee connects to his roots conveys a sentiment can’t help but resonate regardless where one’s from.

Diamond District – “I Mean Business” 2009

One year prior to “I’m From P.G.,” Oddisee’s group Diamond District broke through the over-saturated underground hip-hop market with their debut In the Ruff. Along with XO and yU, the trio (who all grew up in the Maryland/DC/Virginia area) stayed true to their regional influences while building their foundation in hip-hop tradition. This is reflected in the Oddisee produced “I Mean Business” which deliberately uses a cherished sample from Gang Starr’s “Mass Appeal” and matches it with the regional flare of go-go rhythm percussion.

Marvin Gaye f/ Oddisee – “Ain’t That Peculiar” (Oddisee Remix) 2012

Oddisee had his first viral smash earlier this year with his reworking of Marvin Gaye’s “Ain’t That Peculiar.” By re-appropriating the visuals from a memorable Gaye performance to sync up with his own re-imagined additions, Oddisee showed both his reverence and understanding for classic music while tastefully utilizing his creative strengths to make something entirely fresh. Oddisee – “American Greed” 2012

While not an overtly political rap artist, Oddisee has a tremendous knack for subtly giving his take on world events by keeping his references to them hyper-localized. This shines on People Hear What They See‘s “American Greed,” where he poignantly observes, “When George Bush took the oil from the soil / I was in front of the counter buying some milk from the Arabs in the land of honey.”

Oddisee – “Do It All” 2012

Oddisee’s perspective has often been compared to much of today’s “everyman”-type rappers. But, while many of his contemporaries frame their struggles in a “this could be anywhere” motif, it’s precisely because Oddisee maintains his geographic lineage that empathizing with him feels much more genuine. When he boasts his oft-quoted take on Rick Ross, “I’m not a star, somebody lied / I ride the subway as a car, I’m getting by,” he ensures we’re right there ridin’ with him.