Review : Oh No - Ohnomite
SputnikmusicOxnard, California producer Oh No has spent most of his career in the shadow of older brother Otis Jackson (aka Madlib), which is unfortunate; his discography has been equally as consistent, if not as profound. Ohnomite is no exception as one of the most impressive pure producer records since Black Milk's 2008 genre statement in Tronic. The younger Jackson takes cues from Black, but also infuses a lot of east coast techniques with his own brand of west coast funk. It really is no surprise; after producing Raekwon's incredible "Every Soldier in the Hood" last year, it seems that Oh No really immersed himself in the current NYC underground scene on projects like Gangrene (with NY staple Alchemist). Fortunately, Ohnomite pulls a lot less from the latter than the former, as Gangrene's most recent offering Vodka & Ayahuasca emulated the feel of an Alchemist record in terms of production with Oh No merely along for the ride.
No, there's not an ounce of straight up, ripped-from-the-90s boom bap to found within the confines of Ohnomite, and it's much better for it. As with his recent records, there is an overall sonic concept Oh No adheres to - this time using samples from 70s blaxploitation film Dolemite. Regardless of the source, his trademark syncopated future-funk goes in full force, but with a bit of a more forceful east coast bite. No's rapping hasn't especially improved since 2006's Exodus Into Unheard Rhythms, but remains serviceable. The various featured emcees (also featured with well-drawn comic iterations on the album art) do much to enhance the lyrical component here, especially Detroit mainstays Guilty Simpson and Frank Nitty - but also the NYC connection via DOOM, Chino XL, Roc Marciano, and so on.
Ohnomite is another solid addition to a growing, consistent discography. At this rate, we may be remembering another Michael Jackson for his impact on music history, albeit not on such a colossal scale....full text
ConsequenceofsoundExcellent theme albums (and working with DOOM) seem to run in the family of producer/MC Oh No (AKA Michael Jackson(seriously)). His older brother Otis Jackson Jr. is better known as Madlib, whose 2004 collaboration with DOOM, Madvillainy, is one of the best rap LPs of the last fifteen years. And now it’s Oh No’s turn, the younger Jackson given the opportunity to dig through the archives of Dolemite blaxpoitation mastermind Rudy Ray Moore, creating the beats that wound up becoming Ohnomite.
While the album is full of features from important names in indie rap (Chino XL, Roc Marciano, A Tribe Called Quest’s Phife Dawg, and 17 others), it’s the man with his name in the title that deserves the most attention. Half of the production duo Gangrene (with The Alchemist, who features on the excellent “Real Serious”), the unfortunately lesser known Jackson brother’s beats here are gritty, lush, and pack a punch. The swanky horns, rich vocal samples, and clacking drums on “Let’s Roll” kick start aggressive verses from Damani, while the sub-bass warps and twinkling analog synths of “Hallucinations” work with Prozack Turner’s paranoid, drug-focused rhymes. The DOOM-featuring “3 Dollars” stutters and jumps, pulsing with a repeated reference to Moore in both the lyrics and sample, not to mention an excellent verse from Oh No himself. The album consistently works with the energy that the features bring him, without ever betraying his own individual style or the theme of the disc.
While Dolemite may have been the jumping off point, it certainly doesn’t sound like a reinvisioned soundtrack. The gunfire and vocal samples of “The Guns” are a revelation (along with Guilty Simpson’s concussive verses), and the laid-back noir groove of “The Hitmen” adds in flourishes of spacy weirdness. The wild synths of “You Don’t Know Me” work with Rapper Pooh’s insistence that “I don’t plan to be different, just better than the everyday rapper.” But the fact of it is, Oh No and guests are both better than the average and also very different. There’s a consistent intensity and power in Oh No’s production, an ability that should lead to mass attention and even more work from this already prolific artist....full text
DeadendhiphopGangrene rapper/producer Oh No was given an opportunity that would make any blaxploitation fan foam at the mouth. He was allowed extensive access to the entire vinyl catalog of Rudy Ray Moore, the comedian who created the slick pimp character, Dolemite, in the late 60s.
This obviously provided an exciting yet formidable challenge: he had a pandora’s box of late-nite comedy, sweat-laden funk and back-breaking soul that had previously been stowed away from years of eager hip hop production work. The collection could greatly endow him with musical capabilities, but also needed to be respected.
Ohnomite, the direct result of that challenge, is for the most part standard hip hop, featuring the psychedelic, grime-tinged production and East Coast-style lyricism from an embarrassment of features that one would expect from a proper Gangrene project. The major caveat, however, which hinders this album’s true potential and originality, sadly amounts to an inherent lack of Dolemite.
Now don’t be fooled; the large swath of musical and vocal samples, used for the project do come from that hollowed collection of vinyls that Oh No luckily fingered through for months. Oh No’s beatmaking has distant relation to Funcrusher Plus-era El-P and MF Doom, the sort of production that feels aided more by psychotropic stimulants and frenzied comic book binges more than talent, although he clearly has that. His jumpoff from those influence, his phenomenal ability to incorporate discordant tones like blaring horns and soothing tones like echoed pianos, makes the album at least sonically stellar.
If you only listen to one song on this album, pick “Sound Off” based on the production alone: The organ ripples out as funky guitar jumps in tandem with the marching snare hits, while a marching coordinator grunts “Once again” as the track swells and horns emphatically fill an unknown void in the chorus. Oh No’s trained ear can flip a sample in such a profound way, and place it in the right spot and at the right time for the track to wholly benefit from it. Along with “Sound Off,” the beat on “Time” wins points for originality solely due to the singer’s frantic, overbearing wails and the backup singers just shouting “time!” out of tempo and out of unison. And regarding the neat interludes he dollops between the album’s songs, “Ohnomite Jazz” deserves the most praise for corralling samples into a minute from the world’s best jam session....full text
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