Artist – Oddisee
Years Active – 1999-Present
Notable Album – People Hear What They See
Sample Rhyme (from the track “That’s Love”):
“And here we are again, just confronting fears
Whether pain, or gain, it’s a bunch of tears
Blood, sweat, and peers, probably disappear
When smoke starts to clear, their persistence near
Pay attention to the folks who’re fanning the glames
They’re the ones who matter most in the gravity game
When stakes weigh you down and they stay around
And pick up pieces and you off the ground
This is the first — but not the last — time where we might be accused of cheating on this list.
Oddisee — real name Amir Elkhalifa — was born and raised in Maryland, but he really came to prominence as a leading light in Washington, DC’s music scene. He represents Maryland while honoring a lot of the funk and Go-Go traditions of the city he’s adopted.
Growing up in a wealthy suburb of the nation’s capital, Oddisee didn’t know a lot of hardship. While he was a rap fan all his life, he related more to the likes of A Tribe Called Quest and Eric B. & Rakim, rappers whose music didn’t orbit around violence or drugs.
As a result, Oddisee’s raps cover a whole rainbow of issues, ranging from familial love to poverty.
His rhymes are refreshing and unique and made better by his unique take on production. Indeed, Oddisee will release instrumental albums almost as often as he does pure rap albums, a reflection of his myriad abilities within the art form.