One of hip-hop’s brightest spots, Washington, D.C.-raised Sudanese-American Amir Mohamed goes by Oddisee, a rapper unafraid to tackle real-world issues of religion, race, and contextual love. In February, he put out his latest self-produced full-length, The Iceberg, a soulfully cascading snapshot of social commentary and personal anxiety. A principal motif is location, both literal and existential.
“It’s mostly from growing up in a household of parents who came from two different parts of the world,” he says. “Which always made me curious about what else was out there that I hadn’t seen yet.”
The Iceberg hopes to stir up critical thought in a time when ideas are fed through decreasing numbers of outlets.
“I think that lack of critical thinking is causing us to have flash judgments,” he offers. “That’s affecting our social interaction with one another.”
Even as his persona continues to grow in notoriety, he believes in “little to no ego,” normally a rapper’s greatest utility (and primary cause of downfall). He’s “constantly surprising people by how I don’t have to participate” in ego-expanding narcissism. When challenged on his belief of inevitable ego in making art, he offers unsteady delineation, but holds to his conviction.
“You begin to understand what it is that makes people gravitate toward what you’re creating,” he says. “Once you do, you essentially have a template [of what fans will enjoy]. I’m at a point where I comfortably create for myself, knowing that there’s an audience. But, at any given time when it’s released, there’s no ego in saying, ‘This is amazing, and you will like it.’ If people criticize it and don’t like it, there’s no ego that’s even bruised.
“I’m indifferent about it. In fact, I’m confident, but I’m not egotistical.”– Kahron Spearman
In a state renowned for esoterica, Sonny Landreth means slide guitar in Louisiana. Raised and still based in Cajun country, his searing legend resides in work for Clifton Chenier’s Red Hot Louisiana Band, John Hiatt & the Goners, and enjoying veteran status at Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Guitar Festival. Landreth’s current Bound by the Blues squeals and screams.– Jay Trachtenberg
Deathcore road trip! Rattling souls brain stem to bowels, Illinois’ Oceano seeds the field for May’s Sumerian Records debut and fifth LP overall, Revelation. Similar low-end blast, Russian labelmates Slaughter to Prevail advance their own new May album, Misery Sermon. Brisbane’s Aversions Crown disseminates Xenocide, Cali’s Spite debuts groove, and Arizona’s No Zodiac trumpet trad death metal with Altars of Impurity.– Michael Toland