Oddisee, born Amir Mohamed, is a MC/producer currently signed by Mello Music Group splitting his time between Brooklyn, Washington DC and London. He was born in Washington DC and raised in Prince George’s County, Maryland and his love for this area is clear in his work. As a member of the Low Budget Crew, Diamond District and as solo artist he has released more than ten records with various labels working with some of Hip Hop’s biggest names.
How did you first get into Hip Hop?
It’s really a classic story. Grewing up in DC, my older cousins were into hip-hop. They would go to New York and bring back that culture. They started to MC and subconsciously I just started to follow them.
Who were your influences coming up?
I am half-Sundanese and half-African American born in D.C. Basically my upbringing between Sudan and D.C. influenced me a lot. Also my older cousins. All in all my family is very musical and that had a huge influence on me.
Were you a producer or a MC first and how do you find juggling the two crafts?
Well my musical journey started from what i am. A producer and emcee, started rhyming first then I got on to the beats. Sean Born of Low Budget once took me to his crib and showed me some of his beats. That’s when I got fascinated of how to make beats and I asked him if he could teach me. I like to do both equally actually. I started off as an MC & recently I’ve been dedicating more time to it. My favorite thing to do is make a beat, write a song & record it all in one day.
Washington is not renowned for being a Hip Hop hotspot compared to other cities in the States describe the scene there. What did you do to get your name known in DC and then get people’s attention outside of the city?
I got my buzz up, by working my local scene. I made sure that anybody who was anybody knew who I was. It’s a ratio game once talent’s not in questions. The more people I work with venture out, the higher the chance of them extended, new opportunities for me. That proved to work for me.
How did you make the connection with Kev Brown and the rest of the Low Budget crew are you still doing much work together?
Kev Brown and most LB members are from DC as well so we often met back in the days and formed the crew in late 2002. We still do a lot of work together. Sean Born f.e. just released the Album “Behind The Scale” on our Label MMG that is Produced, Mixed, Arranged by Kev Brown. I got additional production on it as well. Make sure you check it out. Kenn Starr also is signed with MMG and is working on his sophomore album right now.
The Oddisee name got a lot of attention when you first worked with Jazzy Jeff on his album “The Magnificent”. How did that come about and what did you learn from working with him?
I first hooked up with Jazzy Jeff through Kev Brown. When he was working at A Touch of Jazz, he extended an invitation to myself and anyone else in the Low Budget Crew to come up and play their material for Jeff. I accepted that invitation, went up there, played him some stuff, and he loved what he heard. And that landed me a track on The Magnificent. And from that point on, we’ve always been acquaintances with each other. We sometimes go a year without speaking to each other, then randomly we’ll see each other somewhere. But the beauty of that relationship is that he always looks out for me. So when it was time to get a DJ to mix Foot in the Door, I hadn’t spoken to Jeff in like year, but he said sure. So I came up to his house, and he mixed it right on the spot. And he didn’t want anything in return for it. So, we’re not in contact on a consistent basis but we know where we stand at.
You are a member of the group Diamond District how did it form, who else makes up the group and are their plans for a second album?
Diamond District consists of yU, XO and myself and right now we started working on a new Diamond District Album. Hope to release it this year. Also yU just released his sophomore solo album “The Earn” via our Label MMG. It’s great you have to check it out.
What equipment are you using in the lab to make beats?
I started with the ASR-X, made by Ensoniq. It was not the ASR 10, that people think of when it comes to a ASR. Right now I barely even use it. All my beats are completely made with ProTools.
What do you prefer – making beats or getting on the mic?
Between Beats and Rhymes, I always get asked which I do like more but it’s 50/50 for me. When I produce a dope beat it makes me wanna rhyme and when I write a dope rhyme it makes me wanna make a dope beat.
What inspires/influences you to make music?
It’s the surrounding of everything I do. When I’m on tour I always try to collect as many impressions as possible. It’s not only about doing shows but also to see the sights, the nature, the architecture, taste the food, talk to people. I take it all in & it becomes translated into music.
What one producer beats would you most like to rhyme over and what one artist would you most like to make beats for?
There are so many people I’d love to work with Drake, Kanye West, Jay-Z, Rick Ross, Lil Wayne… The list goes on & on.
You split your time living between Brooklyn, Washington and London which is your favourite and why?
All of those cities have something special and I like them all. DC is where I grew up and where my family lives. BK is where I live now and where I got my studio. And London is an amazing city. It has the special vibe you only can feel if you once have been out there. But contrary to popular belief, its really grimy in London. London is one of the grimiest cities in the western world that I’ve been to, as far as just the overall look on people’s faces, you can see that life is pretty hard out there. In contrary to this it’s a very expensive city so live isn’t that easy. Most of the people even have 2 regular jobs or even more.
Your latest release “Rock Creek Park” is a tribute to the park in your hometown what is about the park that moved you to name an album after it?
It’s just an amazing park! It cuts through the middle of a major cities & there’s so many parts of it where you’re completely surrounded by nature. Great Place chill and hang out. And I wanted to display in sound all the different memories I have of Rock Creek Park.
Of all the releases you have put out so far which is your favourite and why?
A tough question I really can’t answer. What ever I’m currently working on is my favorite thing. Once I release a record I don’t even listen to it anymore. I’m all about the present. But if a have to pick it’s my recent album Rock Creek Park.
Any upcoming projects from yourself that we should be looking out for?
Right now I am in the finishing process of my first solo Album “People hear what they see”. Also I am working on new stuff with the MMG. A label compilation will be released soon as well. These days are extremely busy and musicwise it’s gonna be a great 2k12
Whats’s your definition of Grindin’?
Being focused and working constantly to achieve your dreams. Fall seven, get up eight
ODDISEE AUSTRALIA/NEW ZEALAND TOUR DATES:
THURSDAY 1ST MARCH
Civic Underground, Sydney
FRIDAY 2ND MARCH
The Manor, Perth
SATURDAY 3RD MARCH
Rocket Bar, Adelaide
SUNDAY 4TH MARCH
FRIDAY 9TH MARCH
The Laundry, Melbourne
SATURDAY 10TH MARCH
Point Erin Pools, Auckland