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Amir Mohamed el Khalifa, who records and produces as Oddisee, has taken many forms over the course of his career. He’s been the go-to producer for the D.C. hip- hop scene, the rising rapper, the leader of the Diamond District clique, and a steady presence on the fringes of the mainstream echelon. At each stop, he’s excelled. But his chameleonic tendencies have led to continued exploration of hip-hop as a craft, creating an eclectic and intriguing discography.

As a producer, Oddisee displays sympathies similar to other skilled contemporaries, such as the late J. Dilla: a taste for obscure soul samples and early ‘90s stylings, an impeccable sense for layered beats, and the ability to turn a straight boom-bap into something expansive and breathing. On his instrumental projects, such as 2011’s Rock Creek Park and 2013’s The Beauty in All, he relies on a strong sense of time and place to create tracks that sound more like city soundscapes than hip-hop beats: he retains a keen ear for subtle flourishes of humanity in his music, and is at all times complex and accessible.

On his vocal projects, his artistic sensibilities are immediately apparent. He is plainspoken and direct, disguising, at times, the depth and complexity of his storytelling. People Hear What They See (2012) is a compelling mix of social observations and commentary intertwined with his inquisitive narratives. His most recent studio album, The Good Fight, saw him take a more aggressive approach with his vocals to accompany some of the edgier beats. It seems that no matter which direction Oddisee chooses to take his talents, the end result is fully-realized, creative and delightfully entertaining. »

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– Charles Trowbridge