Ohmega Watts: “Jason Kidd & Vince Carter of this Hip Hop”

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I’ve finally had some time to dedicate a good sit-down to take in Watts Happening in its entiriety. As previously noted, I’ve been anticipating more from Ohmega Watts ever since I was smitten with his “solo” debut, The Find, in 2005. Early listens had me excited: Watts has continued the eclectic sounds that painted much of The Find – his use of breakbeats leads to an undeniable hip hop record; however, between tracks, it transitions between soul and/or Brazilian groove with both drums and horns dominating several tracks.

Watts Happening begins with “What It Worth,” driven by a classic drum break and very reminiscent of some of his earlier work on his debut & Lightheaded’s The Wrong Way (2006). While it’s difficult to generalize a theme to all Watts Happening‘s tracks, I think his creative use of drums may be the closest to such a generalization, particularly across the first few tracks.

As has been previously noted, the albums first highlight is “Model Citizen,” a mellow, positivity-perpetuating track in which Ohmega Watts opens his arms to being a “guiding light” to others. Despite his laidback rhymes, his point is obvious – and this contributes to another theme that can be heard throughout the album: Ohmega Watts’ unpretentious and accessible demeanor. (It’s nice to see others are also feelin’ this track).

One my favorite tracks on the album is “Eyes & Ears,” with Jneiro Jarel. As soon as I saw this colloboration on the track listing, I knew this was going to be dope. Ohmega Watts & Jneiro Jarel have a vibe that reminds of the Madlib & MF Doom collab – just these two cats vibin’ to some tunes, worrying not of perpetuating some manufactured image…again, accessibility adds an intangibility to the music.

“Roc The Bells,” with Watts’ Lightheaded compatriots, Braille & Othello, works as another great collaboration, although I’m not really feeling the hook – kind of annoying after several times through the album. Still, I really like how the guests (and certainly most guests throughout Watts Happening) blend in, and Lightheaded demonstrates that chemistry that made their two releases so enjoyable.

After “Roc The Bells,” the album takes a few obvious turns in sound. Both “Adaptacao,” with Tita Lima, and “Saywhayusay” have a distinct samba feel. Immediately after, “Are You Satisfied” hits with a funky break, and a great guest spot by Sugarpie Desanto; I have no knowledge of who Sugarpie is to be honest, but I love this track…reminds me of some 70’s soul we might hear from Darondo or Lee Fields.

Overall, Watts Happening‘s appeal lies in its diversity and certainly Ohmega Watts’ ability to utilize a broad palette of sounds. More & more, I find myself drawn to albums like this whose sound is less easily categorized. (also see majority of Madlib projects, and Jneiro Jarel’s Three Piece Puzzle & his recent Shapes of Broad Minds project). Also, Ohmega Watts’ lyrics, while not mind-blowing, compliment the production, seamlessly lying within the beat. They also paint a portrait of him as a laidback emcee/producer who doesn’t need to rely on cheap, “ringtone rapper” hooks/lyrics – for me, his unassuming style speaks louder than the sharpest tongue.

And let me not forget the instrumental disc. Kyle made a great point: you listen to the first 18 tracks of the album, and develop a rapport with it. Then you check the instrumentals and totally add to the original 18. I feel comfortable saying that the instrumental tracks play just as well as albums like Oh No’s Dr. No’s Oxperiment & some of the Madlib instrumentals…you truly are getting 2 albums for the price of…well, for the price of 1…

Related sounds worthy of consideration: Diverse’s One A.M.; Dr. Who Dat’s Beat Journey

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3 Responses to “Ohmega Watts: “Jason Kidd & Vince Carter of this Hip Hop””

  1. Peter Squire Says:

    Is it just me, or does Ohmega Watts look like Amare Stoudamire?

  2. too fore won - Panacea x 2 « Trading Tapes Says:

    […] uses the term “hip hip ethics,” which I really like, and may adopt, e.g. the approach Ohmega Watts takes toward music. With The Scenic Route, that’s really what we have – a balance between all that is hip hop, […]

  3. Time Machine: Lightheaded’s “Pure Thoughts” (2002) « Trading Tapes Says:

    […] care-free. Ohmega and the crew only lightly press on themes more obvious on recent releases, e.g. Watts Happening, but perpetuate a subtle sense of hip-hop integrity. You won’t find any machismo-laden lyrics […]

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