Versatile D.C. producer pays homage to hometown park.
Marcus J. Moore 2011
Certain melodies don’t need words, rolling rhythms and lush crescendos filling the space where verbal expressions normally reside. It happens in rare moments, where lyrics would impede the flowing percussion and stifle its budding effervescence. When done properly, instrumental projects have the ability to soothe and sizzle, encouraging listeners to relax from the struggle and reflect upon calmer times. Amir Mohamed aka Oddisee’s Rock Creek Park is all of the above, serving as a flawless soundtrack for the historic Washington, D.C. park and a moving blueprint for other producers to follow. Quite the achievement for a project recorded over a two-week period in June.
Rock Creek Park is also a significant step in Oddisee’s sonic evolution, standing as a creative masterpiece for the Maryland-raised producer and MC, whose diverse aesthetic is rooted in traditional hip hop. Recently though, his sound has taken on new life as it flirts with electro-pop and bossa nova, casting an eye toward percussive funk and breezy break beats. His previous album, Odd Seasons, was an accurate depiction of such growth, as its 33 songs provided brief glimpses into such progress. Rock Creek Park, a 10-track mostly instrumental collection of wistful soul grooves and calm jazz compositions, is a concise portrayal of D.C.’s secluded commons.
In other moments, Oddisee channels musician David Axelrod on Mattered Much and becomes edgy on the rock-tinged Closed After Dark. Scenic Route to You is moody and bass-heavy, while Uptown Cabaret is a cosmic nod to early-1980s electronic hip hop. Since this album’s original release, Oddisee has added vocals to two of its songs, giving another layer to an already dynamic recording. Except those lyrics aren’t needed as the fluid production stands tall on its own.
Still, Rock Creek Park is an impressive prelude to its maker’s proper solo debut, the forthcoming People Hear What They See, and a strong contender for his best work yet. Given his affinity for genre-hopping, anything could happen next.