[Locals Only] Oddity, 'Illegal Truth' (Gutter Water Music)
Oddity hails from that hip-hop coldbed, Anaheim. His debut album, Illegal Truth (Gutter Water Music), is an earnest exploration of liberty, security, greed, paranoia, corruption, war, etc. It's pretty much the polar opposite of Soulja Boy Tell'em's music—a grim recitation of the status woe, albeit with neck-crackin' funk beats that any Definitive Jux fan would salute. What elevates Illegal Truth above much indie hip-hop is the compelling orchestral and evocatively downtrodden production by Devize, Ni of N.I.P. Productions and Dysposable Heroes.
Things start strong with "By Chaos They Reign," which tips its stocking cap to Wu-Tang Clan's lush, cinematic soundscapes with its melancholy, fibrillating bouzouki and stark funk beats, while Oddity—sounding like a cross between Cypress Hill's B-Real and Eminem—spits urgent, clipped verses about corrupt leaders (same as it ever was). "Return to the Highlands" features a sample of what sounds like the Yardbirds' eerie, somber "Still I'm Sad" sung by a female choir, which may be a hip-hop first. "Two Days to Live" is majestically bummed, a piercing, morose swirl of strings and dappled piano notes congealing into something the RZA would be proud to call his own. The song ends with film dialogue, whose origin I can't place, but reveals much about Oddity's mindset: "The government's been in bed with the entire telecommunications industry since the '40s. They've infected everything . . . Every wire, every airwave . . . The more technology improves, the easier it is for them to keep tabs on you. It's a brave new world."
On disc closer "Filthy Wars," Oddity laments, "No matter where I go, all I see is anger, pain and despair." Great art helps us to transcend these conditions, but Oddity and his cohorts still need a bit more lab work before achieving that. Nevertheless, Illegal Truth is a strong, promising debut. Just don't expect to party to it.
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