Oddisee – Rock Creek Park Album Review

Oddisee has become known for his theme-inspired instrumental albums. After the excellent Odd Seasons and Traveling Man releases, the DMV producer releases Rock Creek Park, which serves as somewhat of a soundtrack for the historical park in D.C./Maryland area. I always respected Oddisee’s vision and passion he has for music, he takes his music to another level by not trapping himself in just the hip hop circle. As Swaggerdon likes to call it, “world music”.

“Rock creek park is & has always been one of my favorite places in Washington, DC. It has a way of aging with you & adapting to where you are in life. When I was younger, it was a place for
skipping rocks, bike rides & imaginary adventures in the woods. As a teen it was a place where I played basket ball, had cook outs with friends & walked through with dates. As an adult it’s my short cut through the city, my quickest way from Silver Spring to George Town. One thing it still is and always well be is my retreat.

Listening to the Black Byrd’s “Rock Creek Park” inspired me to create an entire album around the park & my relationship with it. If the park were to have a soundtrack, what would it be? What does walking along the trails of the park sound like? What does driving on the narrow tree lined roads sound like? This album is my interpretation of Rock Creek Park through break beats, samples & live instrumentation.” –Oddisee

Still Doing It (feat. yU of Diamond District)
yU starts out the album to set the mood describing the surrounding environment and reflecting on his bike ride through the park. The only vocal track on the album but this is a funky tune that’s worth a listen.

“The summer sounds, Rock Creek, you hear me now, got trees and a nice lil breeze under the clouds” –yU

Skipping Rocks
A track that gradually builds from a simple piano melody, adding horns, a guitar and soft strings. They all sound live.The drum pattern gives the feeling of something moving. This is a soft, welcoming opening track that is easy to listen to. It has an old school feel to it for sure.

The Carter Barron
Soulfully sampled, this is the audio ode to the well-known Carter Barron amphitheatre in Rock Creek Park. This definitely gives that live orchestral feeling with the perfect drum and cymbal backing. I hear so many different instruments, but yet it all flows very good together. There is a sampled voice that sounds soft like that of a Curtis Mayfield. Its ended with a nice remix with added sounds. My current favorite track.

Scenic Route to You
Immediately you hear a funky bassline getting the track going and the head nodding. Another track that builds into something impressive. One of the main sounds is this Isley Brothers-sounding instrument (you’ll know what I mean when you hear it). The piano melody and bassline fight for the overall mood of the track. One is kind of upbeat, the other is mellow. The end product is a feeling a bike ride somewhere nice. There is a bonus beat at the end of this track that is worth nothing. A very smooth but short jam.

All Along The River
The drum/snare pattern here is unexpected but as the track builds, you start to appreciate it. I like this track simply for the bassline and the airy sounds. Oddisee knows how to keep a beat interesting with the various changes. Although you have a knocking drum and a pretty deep bassline, the track still feels smooth and melodic. Strange. There is another bonus beat at the end of this track and man, its mean. An upbeat, “baby” yelling jam that will definitely get your head moving. My face is so ugly right now.

Uptown Caberet
Oddisee took it way back to the 70s for this one. Everytime I hear this I wanna break out in the ReRun dance or the Funky Chicken. The sounds are vintage here and will remind you of Soul Train. You will need some bell bottoms for this because this is a VERY funky tune. This sounds very close to Donald Byrd and the BlackByrds’ “Rock Creek Park” and gives the same feeling. “Doing it in the park, doing it after dark, ohhh yeaaaa!”

Beach Dr.
Another smooth, relaxing tune pushed by an airy sample and royal horns. I like the breakdown too. The bassline and guitar are a nice addition as well. To my knowledge, Beach Drive is a road that goes through Rock Creek Park. Sunny days and light winds is the feeling I get with this one. Another bonus beat at the end that sounds pretty good.

Clara Barton
The tempo is of the album speeds up a lil with this smooth jam but is slowed at points where the violin comes in. The vibe here is cool and fresh. There aren’t as many changes as some of the other tracks but it still flows nicely. I’m curious to hear why he named this one “Clara Barton” (he will be releasing Liner Notes for the album).

Mattered Much
It starts out with this nice intro then it goes into this smooth tune, kinda funky beat that’s so relaxing. The snare rolls do it for me, I like how he places them perfectly into the track in a way that keeps it interesting. Something like this, you can find yourself easily engulfed in the somber tones, soft drums and breaks. I’m loving this track.

Closed After Dark
The main melody sounds like a sampled electric guitar (I could be wrong) that sounds kind of unmastered. All in all, it works with the other sounds. Before I knew the name I thought the beat sounded mysterious with the piano taps and horn that sounds like it came straight out of In The Heat of the Night. The track title fits nicely with what the beat sounds like. Makes you wonder what happens at the park after dark?

Oddisee nails the concept with Rock Creek Park. The album is filled with soft, relaxing and refreshing tunes to represent his love for his hometown park. This album is perfect for those beat heads who just love to hear good, smooth productions. Oddisee’s blend of soul samples and live instrumentation gives his beats an authentic feel. It sounds old school but yet new school at the same time. 10 tracks with a few bonus beats, the album seems to be just the right length. I’m impressed with how he has progressed from a few years ago. It’s a shame that this guy isn’t producing for top MCs yet. Rock Creek Park is simply good music that you will enjoy from beginning to end. This is worth every penny and the sync to your pod. Overall Rating: 10/10
Top 3 Favorite Tracks: The Carter Barron, Scenic Route to You, Mattered Much

Read The Liner Notes from Oddisee

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