Are you a fan of Hip-Hop? Does the name Amir Mohamed el Khalifa ring a bell? What about Oddisee? If none of these register anything, then you have probably never listened to The Iceberg, one of the greatest rap albums that came out in 2017. Finding a unique sounding alum that speaks to the listeners over making radio hits is getting extremely rare in the current music environment and this is probably the reason why Oddisee is not that well known. Taking the road less traveled in rap tends to have that effect on artists.
Oddisee is no newbie to the game; born in 1985, the 36-year-old American rapper and record producer is a cut above the rest. Oddisee should be on everyone’s lips in the rap world based on his flow and sound alone because he got it. With Sudanese and Islamic roots, Oddisee is like a unicorn, and he officially started his career in music in 2010 with the release of Travelling Man. He followed it up with another mixtape titled Odd Spring, which was listed among the best mixtapes of 2010 by the Washington Post.
Odd Spring was his springboard, and every other project he released from then on was nothing but solid work, going from strength to strength. But in a world where countless projects and music tracks are released daily, it was easy for his efforts to be swallowed up by this wave. Much had not changed by the time he released The Iceberg.
It is hard to ignore this album when you listen to the opening 3 minutes; it is different, which is a very rare thing these days where everybody sounds like everybody. Oddisee’s handling of his own production plays a huge part in giving the album a unique sound that melds well with his voice, delivery style, and lyricism. Forget the trap sounds that have invaded every space; this is the kind of sound that forces you to stop and perk your ears to hear what follows next. Production-wise, everything is balanced; you can feel every string, every hi-hat, and cymbal in the background.
The 47-minute long album comes with 12 tracks that tackle everyday topics around his life in Washington DC. Right off the bat, Oddisee dives into the indifferences in people and the challenges he was going to expect with the election of Donald Trump at the time due to his Muslim roots. He dissects inequality in “Like Really” using well-laced beats and a flow that would put most of the top-rated rappers to shame. At no point does Oddisee misplace a lyric or a beat; everything about The Iceberg is flawless.
The Iceberg delivers everything you would expect from a good rap album, it ticks off all the boxes, and it is for this reason that it really beats logic why The Iceberg didn’t feature in any of the leading publications or dominant music charts. The album is now four years old and has outlived most projects that got the hype in 2017. Maybe, just maybe, it is time the rap world, especially the fans, re-evaluated how they listen to albums because The Iceberg deserves all the accolades it never received back then. Here’s to hoping that Oddisee’s next project gets the recognition it deserves.
This rap album may be four years old but it still hits the right music notes worthy of any hip-hop album should be hitting. It may have not received the top-rated music reviews it deserves but that doesn’t diminish its impact on those that got a chance to listen to it.