Oddisee Asks For Introspection and Understanding On His Stellar New Album ‘The Iceberg’

Rapper and producer Oddisee has released his latest studio album 'The Iceberg.'

Rapper and producer Oddisee has released his latest studio album The Iceberg.

Oddisee, who was born Amir Mohamed el Khalifa in Washington D.C., dropped the project towards the end of last month. Running 12 tracks long and just over 45 minutes, Iceberg is a sonically cohesive body of work that manages to neatly pack powerful and important overarching themes.

The album is political, as much of Oddisee’s previous work has been, touching on economic inequality, consumerism, race, xenophobia, and sexism. Searing stories, many of them personal, are told to illustrate larger social forces and their often disastrous psychological toll, particularly on black people, people of color, and immigrants.

Oddisee’s mother is African-American while his father is Sudanese. Growing up the rapper spent summers in the North African country. The Trump regime’s Muslim Ban, both of them, list Sudan as one of the seven, and then six countries whose citizens are being barred from entry into the United States.

The Iceberg is big and expansive, its multi-layered sounds, brought to life with the help of a live band, compliment Oddisee’s vocals and reflective essayistic lyrics. Pulsating beats and beautiful arrangements can be found throughout. Much of Iceberg feels like an outstretched a hand, one offering understanding, a call for reflection and critical thinking.

The album opening “Digging Deep” does just this, swelling into a grove, setting the stage for the remaining 11 tracks. Oddisee’s message is a pertinent one, particularly considering our current political milieu, the anger and resentment felt by many, the stark division that plagues the world. “Things,” the second track and the album’s first single, samples Stevie Wonder‘s 1972 track “Superwoman” transforming it into a gorgeous and bouncy song that asks us to look both outward and inward.

Making music or art that honestly analyzes and criticizes the world does have its price. In an interview with Noisey, Oddisee spoke about being billed to perform at President Barack Obama's farewell party back in January with rappers Kendrick Lamar, Chance The Rapper, J. Cole, and others. But as the performance date neared, Oddisee was informed that he was being pulled from the bill for his controversial music. The DMV rapper hypothesized it was his track "Lifting Shadows," a song from last year’s EP Alwasta that addressed Obama’s devastating drone war, that made the White House change their mind.

In that interview Oddisee also remarked, “No one really wants to do the hard work of understanding why things are the way they are.” He continued, "My message is to try to bring everyone together to realize that we're not all that different.” It’s a message that rings clearly throughout Iceberg.

“Built By Pictures” tackles Black people’s relationship to money, economic access, inequality and the influence of consumerism as exacerbated by the forces of capital and their tools of propaganda. He raps, “Why do my people spend more and have less than/ No seat to eat the meal that I'm responsible for cheffing.” On “You Grew Up” Oddisee tells two stories of two different boys, and the effect hate can have on an individual and the extremes it can draw them to.

Protest songs like “Nnge” (Never Not Getting Enough) featuring Toine articulate that Black people have been struggling prior to the election of Trump while also paying homage to D.C.’s go-go scene. He raps "I'm from black America this is just another year/ If you're new to disrespect by your elected puppeteers/ Well let me show you how to persevere.” Though there is hope for a better future, there are moments of doubt as expressed on the album’s soulful closer “Rights & Wrongs” featuring Olivier St. Louis.

Making music that touches on social issues and politics runs the risk of turning didactic, preachy, a sacrifice of fitting in a crucial point or theme at the expense of cadence or flow. Iceberg is an important musical statement in an uncertain time, one that is able to find its balance in the chaos, a graceful dance that swells and resides at the right moments.

It’s a project that manages to constantly and diligently say something that means something, a collection of songs that smoothly flow into each other, songs that relay a snapshot of the human experience, simultaneously straddling below the water and above it, partially frozen and partially liquid, music that somehow is able to soaringly sing about understanding and love in a sea of confusion and insularity.

Image: Nabsolute Media

Reekado Banks Recalls The Carnage of The #EndSARS Protests In Single 'Ozumba Mbadiwe'

The Nigerian singer pays his respects to those lost during last year's #EndSARS protests.

Nigerian singer and songwriter Reekado Banks is back with a track that is as socially important as it is a banger. It seems fitting for the singer's first solo release of the year to be a tribute to his fellow countrypeople fighting for a country that they all wish to live in. The 27-year-old Afrobeats crooner has returned with endearing track 'Ozumba Mbadiwe', honoring the one-year anniversary of the #EndSARS protests that saw the Nigerian government authorize an onslaught of attacks on Nigerian citizens for their anti-government demonstrations.

The protests took the world by storm, additionally because the Nigerian government insists that none of the police brutality happened. In an attempt to gaslight the globe, Nigerian officials have come out to hoards to deny any and all accusations of unlawfully killing peaceful protesters. Banks mentions the absurd denials in the track, singing "October 20, 2020 something happened with the government, they think say we forget," in the second verse. Reekado's reflective lyrics blend smoothly and are supported by the upbeat, effortless Afrobeat rhythm.

In another reflective shoutout to his home, 'Ozumba Mbadiwe' is named after a popular expressway on Lagos Island that leads to the infamous Lekki Toll Gate where protesters were shot at, traumatized, and murdered. Although packed with conscious references, the P.Priime produced track is a perfect amalgamation of the talents that Reekado Banks has to offer; a wispy opening verse, a hook to kill, and an ethereal aura to mark this as a song as a hit. On "Ozumba Mbadiwe," all the elements align for Reekado's signature unsinkable sound to take flight.

Check out Reekado Bank's lyric video for his single 'Ozumba Mbadiwe'

Reekado Banks - Ozumba Mbadiwe (Lyric Video)

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