Oddisee Turns Shared Experiences in America Into Metaphors on ‘Odd Cure’
The American hip-hop artist opens up about his latest record, written in self-isolation and what it feels like to be in the U.S. at this point
When COVID-19 began spreading like wildfire earlier this year, American rapper Oddisee was on tour in Thailand and at the time had no concerns. The artist made it back to his home in New York just days before the lockdown was imposed in the U.S., after he began to notice people at airports looking ill and coughing. “When customs allowed everyone to simply enter New York with absolutely no checkpoints, it was then that I realized the United States was going to be in serious trouble,” he says.
With tour dates now either canceled or postponed for every artist, Oddisee decided to do what he knows best — write new music. He’s crafted one of the most enjoyable pieces of music with his recently released record Odd Cure (out via Outer Note Label), the first since 2017’s The Iceberg. Churned out within two months in self-isolation, he says, “I wasn’t aiming to have it out sooner or later. Once I begin an album, I tend to release it soon after its inception. Followers of music have been patiently waiting for my next release. It felt right to get it out as soon as possible.”
According to Oddisee, the new album revisits the divide in American society with an updated perspective on the country’s growing expansion in circumstances and beliefs. The rapper says, “From white to black, rich or poor, Democrat or Republican, slave state to free state, liberal to conservative, America has been split down the middle over different beliefs and issues since it was founded.” The artist explains that the manner in which the U.S. is handling the coronavirus pandemic as well as the racial inequality surrounding the country is the latest in a line of recurring fights. “I chose this bipartisan struggle as the main topic on the Odd Cure. I’m always doing my best to express how I think while leaving room for how another may perceive the world.”
The 11-track Odd Cure brings together the best of funk, jazz, R&B and soul music as well as Oddisee’s unique vocal delivery which makes your head bob with the tunes. The record includes quirky skits featuring his mother and grandmother, groove-induced tracks (“The Cure,” “I Thought You Were Fate”) and a mesmeric offering titled “Still Strange” featuring Sri Lankan-bred Swiss vocalist Priya Ragu. “No Skips” and “Go to Mars” both offer hooky instrumentation while “Shoot Your Shot” comes across as the most hard-hitting track on the record with its slick synth solo. He says, “To me ‘Shoot Your Shot’ is about Democrats versus Republicans, who knows what someone else might think it’s about? I love that.”
While Oddisee produced all the songs on the record, it also includes musicians such as vocalist-keyboardist Ralph Real, bassist Mr. Turner, guitarists Olivier St. Louis and Sainte Ezekiel as well as drummer Jon Laine and was mixed by Delf. The artist says, “The lyrics on the Odd Cure take my shared experience in today’s America and puts it to metaphor.”
Away from music, we ask the rapper what it feels like to be in the U.S. right now given all that’s happened over the last few months with the tragic death of George Floyd as well as the country’s upcoming presidential election. He says, “America feels like it’s at a tipping point. Hopefully we will experience the dramatic change we need in order to rectify our past and move forward in unity.” Oddisee adds, “I’ve been alive for many pivotal moments in our history, this feels no different.”
Apart from spending his days at his studio during the lockdown, Oddisee has also had more time to be with his family. “I feel very blessed that the lockdown and pandemic has given me more time to be with my loved ones and do what I love,” he says. The rapper’s advice to people going through a hard time during the pandemic is simple, “keep a routine.” He adds, “Wake up and sleep at the same times, eat healthy, read, work on something you’ve always wanted to. Call the people you care about and check on them. We need each other most in these times.”
Last year, Oddisee performed in Mumbai at Levi’s 501 Day and has fond memories, recalling the lively and enthusiastic crowd at the show. “India didn’t disappoint, and I look forward to returning with my full band,” he says. The hip-hop artist has already begun working on his next few releases and is also cooking up several music videos. “I’m taking advantage of the time home to get as much music done as possible,” he says.
Stream ‘Odd Cure’ on Spotify below and click here to listen to it on other platforms.