Archive for the ‘Ohmega Watts’ Category

Way back when…in 2007…

January 3, 2008

Aight, it’s January 3 and neither myself nor Kyle have shared any thoughts on the year in music that was 2007 (looking at our last post, looks like we’ve been hibernating). But, I’ve been listening to music incessantly, and been reading some fine wrap ups on some of the blogs I frequent however, and don’t feel it necessary to cut and paste some of the great albums and tracks that others have recollected, e.g. Ohmega Watts’ Watts Happening over at WTR. (“Model Citizen” still sits atop as my favorite, along with “Dedicated” & “Eyes & Ears.”) Sure, I really dug (or digged) Pharoah’s Desire, Hov’s American Gangster, Kweli’s Ear Drum (Madlib dressed “Everything Man” & “Eat to Live” smartly), and other top choices for top 5-10 albums of the year. There are a few albums that I felt didn’t get represented as well as they should have in others’ top 10 lists.

For example, one of my early favorites of the year was Black Milk’s Popular Demand, shown some love early in ’07. “Sound the Alarm” with Guilty Simpson has to be in the top five for gully of 2007. Through 2007, Black Milk lent some really dope production to a range of artists (not including how he laced up his own work, e.g. “So Gone” & “Take It There,” both from Popular Demand). If you haven’t, be sure to check his work on Wildchild’s Jack of All Trades. “Love at 1st Mic” is so Detroit, so Dilla, you have to love it, featuring the classic cut and stuttering soul sample. This beat could have easily been on Popular Demand. I really like the drums on “Ox to tha D,” but Frank-N-Dank don’t really do it for me, nor does the chorus…but the beat is still pretty hot. Black Milk also killed “Danger,” (shown love at WYDU, #81) from Phat Kat’s Carte Blanche; this track was also featured on BM’s EP, Broken Wax, but in my opinion, the highlight of that project was “U’s a Freak”: Classic tale of dude calling out a girl who’s a lady in the street but freak behind doors (very Slum Village-esque theme), but that beat is ridiculous.

Jneiro Jarel also put out, what I consider, and excellent album in 2007, in the form of his Shape of Broad Minds project, which is to Jneiro Jarel what Yesterday’s New Quintet is to Madlib: includes Jneiro Jarel, Jawwaad, Rocque Won, Dr. Who Dat?, and the only non-Jneiro creation, Panama Black. Craft of the Lost Art (digital version here) features the rare soul/funk samples of Madlib, drum arrangements of Dilla, non-self-absorbed lyrics of Ohmega Watts, and the free wheelin’ style of a Count Bass D release. Four elements that make for a great album. Led by the single “Let’s Go” featuring MF Doom working as a tribute to Dilla (whom I would guess Jarel was a student), Craft of the Lost Art is packed front to back with diversity, but manages to sound coherent in one listen. While tracks like “Let’s Go” & “Light Years Away” back the bangers, I really like when Jarel sculpts some more surreal backgrounds, as heard in “Changes,” which features a rolling sample that makes the track float, “Electric Blue,” one of my faves on the album, and “Lullabanger,” the latter very Madlib-esque in the use of rising tones, and, what sounds like a maraca. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t include the jazz tribute, “It Ain’t Dead!!” reminding us all that jazz still contributes greatly to hip hop music. Unfortunately, when I was in Philly and tried to check out Zanzibar Blue, I found it to be closed.

Other honorable mentions include:
100dbs & Ryan O’neal’s The Adventures of the One Hand Bandit and the Slum Computer Wizard – a long-winded title, sure, but it’s certainly worth checking out for 100dbs’s production. Sample-heavy it is, but as I always say, the ability to find an ill sample nearly precludes sculpting the sample into a track. 100dbs digs some good ones. Highlights include “She Got a Body,” “Get Down!” & “One Hand Bandit.”

Waajeed’s Waajeed Presents: The War LP – Again, here we go with Detroit. Waajeed’s production is on point throughout this “compilation,” which is comprised of both vocal and instrumental tracks. The instrumentals are worth it, but you throw in some excellent tracks from Ta’Raach, a few Dilla instrumentals, and 3 solid Tiombe Lockhart songs, and this album gets better and better, culminating with its final two tracks: “Escape from Stinktown” and the instrumental, “Tron.”

I first learned of Uncut Raw’s First Toke over at When They Reminisce. This was certainly a surprise banger for me, and due to this element of surprise, probably is in my top 5 for the year. Both Selfish & Fluent are capable emcees but for me, the production is definitely the selling point – the samples could hardly be more perfect, including so-soulful and funk, and it sounds like it was recorded in a dark basement; it’s got that dusty sound that made (or, makes) Wu-Tang’s Enter the 36 Chambers so appealing. “The Flying” may be in my top 10 tracks for the year, and is quite Dilla-esque if you ask me.

Sa-Ra’s Hollywood Recordings continues the Detroit ambiance and restores some contemporary Prince vibes to the ’07.

And last, but surely not least is Panacea’s The Scenic Route, which you can (or may have already) read about right here. I still maintain that Raw P is one of the premier story tellers out right now.

Here’s to 2007 – an excellent year, imo, for music. Both the underground and not-so underground came with some really solid albums; while I will occasionally get into a funk when I hear an awful hip hop song on the radio, or see some sloppy video on television, I cannot really complain about what came out in 2007. I’m optimistic enough to be quite interested in 2008’s releases.

Hip Hop, rock, rock on and…

Time Machine: Lightheaded’s “Pure Thoughts” (2002)

December 10, 2007

An album I was introduced to when backtracking through Ohmega Watts’s discography once I heard and became enamored with his 2005 debut, The Find, Lightheaded (Braille, Ohmega Watts, Othello (on the mics) and Canadian producer, Munshine) collectively debuted with the Pure Thoughts, a care-free, thoughtful throwback to the West Coast pace – laid-back. To my dismay at the time, Ohmega doesn’t contribute to the production, but Munshine provides a familiar, soulfunk backdrop which embraces like a hug. It’s easy to get comfortable with his sound – he uses some choice samples, including the same sample Kanye used for Common’s “Start the Show,” yeah, those steel drums, for “Blink of an Eye.” He also uses a sample ATCQ used on “PT Cruise,” along with, 9th Wonder/Joe Scudda’s “Just Don’t Speak,” from 9th’s Dream Merchant Vol. 1. Production stays within convention, but familiarity breeds content, no?

Content of Pure Thoughts is light, and in line with other West Coast acts, e.g. Del, The Pharcyde, Alkaholiks: fun, heartening at times, and aligned with aforementioned Lefties, 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 here. The feeling is all about collective restoration, not uplifting oneself by downgrading others. “Completion,” for example, features Lightheaded pondering the meaning of life over a pleasant keyboard-backed beat. “Lightheaded Anthem” feels good and works as a great track to bump on your commute to work/school/dentist/christmas shopping…anywhere you need a pep talk. Lightheaded, in this case, is an appropriate adjective to describe these 3 emcees and 1 producer. Pure Thoughts is a fast-paced, uplifting listen that won’t have your head clogged with any fillers or downers.

Amare & Ohmega…do we have a match?

November 2, 2007

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

October 27, 2007

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

Ohmega Watts – “Just think…”

October 11, 2007

…what if you can just be a, kid again, and waste the day, never worry about life or tooth decay… – from “Model Citizen”

Yeah, I’m know it’s already been out for 3 days & I’ve yet to comment on it, but I’m working on (that is, just started bumpin’ it). Ohmega’s Watts Happening may be the most anticipated album for me this year (right up there with Jneiro Jarel’s Shape of Broad Minds project…and we’ll see if LB’s Get Back ever gets released in 2007). I was completely enamored with The Find; a genre-melding cornucopia of sounds, upbeat lyrics & production. That album definitely highlighted what I love about hip hip and I’ve been anxious to hear the new album.

Admittedly, I just got into it yesterday – it’s been a busy music week & I wanted to make sure I had some time to sit down and listen. Already, I’m really feeling “Model Citizen,” a laid back PSA on the role of adults (particularly fathers) in the lives of our children. Sorry, I couldn’t find a less corny way to describe it, but if you’ve read anything on here (specifically earlier posts of TT), you know I am wary of hip hop that has seemingly slipped into an acquisitive irresponsibility. Avoiding the soap box, “Model Citizen” is a thoughtful reflection on parent, media, and celebrity influence on kids; Ohmega also inconspicuously speaks on family dynamics, setting up a message that builds up the role of fathers, which is sorely needed – just the opinion of a long time hip hip listener.

He proves that it’s not unhip hop to be empathic:

A lot of kids can’t even say they love someone, cause nobody ever cared, but I stand correct, cause I’m somebody right here…

Offering himself as guide:

Cause here I am, a young man, with only hope to share, at one point & time, see I truly didn’t care, now I be the same light like the one that guided me

On “artists” (hip hop community and beyond perhaps?):

These artists neglect you, sayin’ they don’t give a what, they’re more concerned with making a buck

Just a feel good song that demonstrates that some in the hip hop community care. Interestingly, Ohmega Watts’s music is right up there with Jneiro & Madlib (among many) in stylistic experimentation; certainly moreso than some of these other “artists” who claim their artistic priority tops any community responsibility, e.g. “Yo, I’m just expressing myself through my art.” (Not hating, just highlighting a disparity.)

Certainly more to come on Watts Happening…stay tuned…

Why the Soul Music Drought In ’07?

October 8, 2007

After getting finished listening to Ohmega Watts’ newest offering, Watts Happening, I continue to be flabbergasted by the quality hip-hop that we’ve heard in 2007–and we’re only three quarters of the way in, with LPs from Jay-Z (curious) and The Roots (egh…) on the way.

This is surely something to appreciate, but at the same time, I can’t think of a good R&B/Soul album that has dropped this year. I put this out there to get the brain-trust thinking: am I overlooking someone?

I’m an admitted will.i.am stan right now, and I’m really feeling his newest LP, Songs About Girls. But I refuse to put a producer who really ain’t a singer in this list–especially if he is only making the list by default. That album is fresh, in my opinion; but I’d like some more choices.

Squire?