AlWatsa by Oddisee: A dose of socially conscious rap

THE DISCUSSION:

Written, produced, recorded and mixed in one week, Washington D.C. rapper Amir Mohamed el Khalifa, better known as Oddisee (@ODDISEE), released AlWatsa, a funky, socially conscious masterpiece that emulates the definition of originality and barrier-breaking Hip-Hop.

Story: Nico Blitz // @nicoakablitz

Image: Mello Music Group

Released on March 23, 2016, AlWatsa is an Arabic term that translates into “the plug” in English. The phrase is used to identify an individual who connects with the community by utilizing their wealth in social currency – or in other words, the value of what’s arising from the media that effects society.

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The EP begins with crackling vinyl sounds, indicating the era of Hip-Hop that Oddisee is emulating the mood from. From there we’re giving old school synthesizers and pianos, funky basses, and old school drum kits to give it that smooth and groovy 80s vibe.

The socially conscious AlWasta EP takes the audience through life lessons of personal fortitude, limitations, communal misconceptions, and empowerment that resonates from you and is reciprocated from other likeminded individuals.

Aural aesthetics that Oddisee included was the crackling vinyl at the beginning and ending as a simple indication that the EP is concluded. Additionally, every song begins and ends with a loop of the instrumental. This leaves thinking space for the audience to comprehend and reflect on Oddisee’s wisdom.

 

THE ARGUMENT:

Oddisee is from Washington D.C., which explains why the topics he chose for this EP were quite socially conscious. He exemplifies the ideal persona of an artist who represents his home. Considering he’s from this nation’s capital, it would only be appropriate if his style includes a political background.

For example, “Lifting Shadows” is probably the most socially conscious song on the 7-track installment. Oddisee takes away the lyrical aspect – the flow, built behind a barrage of rhymes, aspect – and addresses the social issues of white vs. black issues he calls ‘shadows’.

Credit: Youtube // The Realness

From my first listen, I feel that clouds are metaphors for whites, shadows are metaphors for blacks, and the sun is a metaphor for success.

Shadows are not casted unless the clouds hide the sun. Therefore, I believe that he is saying that white people take credit for what the black people can equally do, but the world only sees the good in the white.

My personal favorite is “Strength & Weakness”, which is introduced with a soft electric piano that produces a soothing melodic tune. The message: all ones strengths are equally ones weaknesses. Oddisee reminds us that our greatest assets in life can also be our downfall.

Credit: Youtube // The Realness

Since we’re on the topic; the strength and weakness of AlWatsa is that it was very short. The 7-track EP gives us just enough of Oddisee, but teases us with wanting much, much more. Social conscious raps with smooth and groovy beats make this EP a must-have to raise your personal awareness for issues that most rappers will not speak upon.

Downloads available on iTunes or Bandcamp.

 

 

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