Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Album Review: Oddisee - To What End

To What End
*** out of *****

The Washington D.C. based MC/producer Oddisee's newest release, To What End is a mix of extended vocal stanzas, easy rolling beats and live instrumentation. The laid back hip hop vibe is sometimes at odds with Oddisee's message, as he has a lot to say on heavy topics. 

The album opens with the aptly titled "The Start Of Something" where he rhymes about mixed emotions, professional malaise, families, truths and much more, over strings and a mid-song piano break which ends up severing things into more of a two-songs-in-one feel. "How Far" is a sweet jam but wraps up before really kicking in while "Many Hats" is a smooth, 70's funk inspired ode around electro keys and is one of the best full efforts here. 

Self produced by Oddisee, he also brings in live instrumentation onto the tracks with support from Ralph Real (keys), Dennis Turner (bass), Olivier St. Louis & Saint Ezekiel (guitar) Jon Laine (drums) Fredeka, Felix Herbst, Johan Lenox & Don Carn (strings). "Already Knew" uses those strings as a focus with a electrified fiddle solo, highlighting the jam while "All I Need" pumps electro keys and beats with guest Olivier St. Louis helping out as well.   

The guests begin to pile up as the album progresses. "Choices"  featuring Phonte, BeMyFiasco and Kay Young is a great excursion in a vein that resembles The Pharcyde in tone, and that is before that band is directly quoted in "Ghetto To Meadow" featuring Freeway. A spoken word vibe overtakes "More To Go (feat. C.S. Armstrong)" while "Bartenders" vibrates with boom-bap drum, bass and odd singing sampled into sounds by co-producer Dunc

The alternative hip-hop and laid back style continues for the modern R&B influenced "Work To Do (feat. Bilal)" while "Bogarde (feat. Noochie)" feels like an experimental jazz beat re-worked over a bragging chorus going hard. "The Way (feat. Haile Surpreme & Saint Ezekiel)" is a more cohesive get down jam that recalls "I Like It" from DeBarge (or maybe more accurately Wreckx-N-Effect) while closer "Race" sends us back to the opening effort, digging into the need to keep on fighting in the rap game.  

The long play has lots of sonic nooks and crannies to explore and Oddisee and guest lyricists have lots to say. To What End asks questions, searching, with no real answers as Oddisee continues to dig through life.
Support the artist, buy the album, peep some video below:

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