As a member of hip-hop trio Diamond District, rapper-producer Oddisee shares the mic and the music. But as the man born Amir Mohammed el Khalifa shows on his latest solo release, “People Hear What They See,” this D.C. artist has the skills to be a major star all by himself.
The free, pre-LP “Odd Renditions” EP features reworkings of tunes by indie crooner Bon Iver, soul legend Marvin Gaye, Canadian rapper K-Os and British electronica group Metronony, and shows Oddisee’s eclectic tastes. His arrangements are rich and melodic — which is why Oddisee’s instrumental compositions, including last year’s excellent “Rock Creek Park” LP, remain engaging without lyrics (though he’s no slouch in that department).
Oddisee has a commanding, Ludacris-type voice, but his lyrics aren’t party anthems: His words are smart and earnest, sometimes political but never didactic. “I’m not a star, somebody lied/I ride the subway as a car, I’m getting by,” he states on “Do It All” — one of many honest, clever lines on an honest, clever album.
Hear It Now: Stream the “”People Hear WHat They See” LP here.