ODC. We previously review his song, “Milli-Ons” featuring KatScan. After deliberation, we rated the song to be hybrid. The hybrid rating coincides with his style. He’s a mix of the old and new. He’s got life relating content, focuses on great wordplay and an alluring delivery style. However, his production often falls under the characteristics of melodic rap. 808s convulsions, upbeat signature counts and a sometimes syncopated flow. He makes music for every style - rap purists, mumble and trapper listeners too. He’s a talented MC making music that is sonically different yet commercially viable whilst still conforming to Hip-Hop characteristics.
”Milli-Ons” signaled ODC’s strengths as a rapper yet it was also an illustration of his artistic faults. After a month after his singles’ release, his EP “Free Agents” has arrived. At 30 minutes long, it’s a short listen. Let’s see if he lives up to expectations as a gifted MC and good musician.
The EP begins with the album’s title, “Free Agents”. The production is cold. Dark timbres and a light synth are used together to create a contrasting effect that makes the beat beguile. Slight 808 convulsion with some beautiful drums. This a good way to start a project. ODC focuses on his struggles, frustrations and lack of patience. He references being independent and receiving plenty of listens and downloads but it hasn’t changed his life yet. With a sense of optimism, he labels himself a free agent that is ready to take over the world. His delivery style is reminiscent of Common. He flows without a hitch. Stagnant yet progressive (sounds like a contradiction, right?) His wordplay is eye-opening and he manages to make this short illustration of storytelling compelling. With his content focused on him overcoming his struggles, this sounds like it’s bound to be an empowering project. A great start to the project.
The following song is “W.I.L.L” which features KatScan and Buttercup. The production is distinguished by heavy 808s dissonant piano melodies and quick hi-hats. “W.I.L.L” is an abbreviation of “What it look like”. ODC and KatScan join together and manage create a chemistry filled hook. Going line for line, they make a hook that can easily resonate with listeners.
“Young nigga stepped on the scene, chasing green
Yeah, the money all I see!
(What it look like)
Get it with my team
Counting figures started out with my mind and a dream
(What it look like)
Tryna stack bread
Every way, on top, sideways and in between.
What it look like?
What it look like?
Tell me what it look like.”
They killed that hook. ODC’s lighter tone and Kat’s darkness form an endearing relationship that makes the hook enjoyable. It’s a hook easily worth of being on radio stations and clubs. ODC follows up the alluring hook with a great verse filled with crazy wordplay, introspective content and a sharp delivery.
“Yea, telll me what it look like
Stuck at Wits, I was tryna get my books right
Now the schedule like Tupperware its airtight
No off days cause every night a booked night
You niggas better act right
Skan Beats leave you bleeding like Suge Knight”
The lines give insight into his life while he uses wordplay and multi-syllabic rhyme scenes to illustrate how great his pen is. Buttercup enters and provides something new. Her verse is short but her light vocal tonality brings a new feeling to the song. It’s an enjoyable contribution to the song too.
Thereafter, “Beast” follows. The production is somewhat lackluster. It relies on a synth and an uninspiring drums. Lyrically, however, ODC shines. It’s a lyrical onslaught. ODC flips metaphors and his content is engaging. Along the way, there’s a few hiccups. Corny lines like “I’m sick, a lil wheezy (Lil Weezy) but I swear my name ain’t D’Wayne” create cringeworthy moments. Of course, this is what’s likely to result when your wordplay style is based on stretches. Similar to artists like Ab-Soul, his style is based on reaches that force one to be imaginative. That same sense of lyricism is bound to result in mind-blowing lines but also some awful lines. Furthermore, the hook isn’t thrilling. It sounds empty, unimaginative and simply boring.
“Winnin’” follows. Hopefully this song brings the enjoyment that I was experiencing prior to “Beast”. “Winnin’” is an uptempo song where the hook references DJ Khaled’s infamous “THEY DON’T WANNA SEE YOU WINNING”. The content focuses on him differentiating himself from every other rapper. Like I’ve mentioned in my previous articles, it’s essential for an MC to think he’s the best one out. This song tries to prove that. ODC rhymes effortlessly. He switches flows incredibly, switching from a West Coast traditional flow to a syncopated one to Migos’ signature Versace flow to a double time flow. It’s pretty impressive. His lyricism is equally captivating. On a dark instrumental, his rhyme schemes are quite dense. Multi-syllable rhymes aloft alongside extended metaphors. The song concludes through a dark autotune layered speech sprinkling Khaled reminiscent motivation and
Knowledge. Alright, four songs in and three are of good quality.
“Winnin’” leads into “Milli-Ons” (you’re welcome to read my thoughts on the album’s main single). It flows into “Michael KnighTT” which has a completely different feel to the entire sonic direction of the project thus far. This shit is HARD. Interestingly enough, ODC produced the song himself with some additional credit going to KatScan. The song is perfectly designed for crowd interaction.
“If you don’t give a damn. We don’t give a fuck!”
The production is characterized by a progressive melody that’s looped around alongside some despondent percussion. The result is a truly elaborate sound that’s reminiscent of West Coast styled production. He rhymes with a sense of realism. A confident cadence where he spits without remorse.
“Give a fuck if I offend you.”
Besides his sense of clear cynicism and confidence, he manages to kill his verses. In his own words, the “flow is propane, Imma show you what that flame do.”
“On My Grind” follows the forlorn melodies. It’s based on a beautiful but slow guitar bassline, a cold violin harmony alongside a smooth synth, slight 808s and spastic hi-hats. Sonically, Earl Sweatshirt would thrive on production this elaborate and thrilling. The production is relentless. Moreover, this one of ODC’s finest verses. He makes various pop culture references and remains expressive as he explains his struggles. His attention to detail is great. When he tells narratives, it’s appealing. Again, his ability to switch flows is uncanny. This is a standout song.
The final song is “Victorious”. The name alone signifies a triumphant ending. It’s clearly intended to be a resolution to the dissonant sonic direction. The production is immaculate. It chops up and quickens an orchestra and focuses the choral arrangement. Slick 808s carry the percussion well. The production creates a great undertone for the verses and hook. KatScan’s hook utilizes autotune and emphasizes melodic runs. An added layer from a female voice creates a sense of cohesiveness. The layered vocals of KatScan are easily compatible with the sample. ODC enters with conviction and confidence. His flow is upbeat. His punchlines are insane. Every line is a filled with entendres and punchlines. ODC is relentless. His strong cadence, aggressive delivery style and ferocious flow make him sound extremely hungry. It’s prime Wayne reminiscent. That “I am the beast, feed me rappers or feed me beats” Wayne. It’s an exhilarating effort from ODC as he saves the best for last. This is how you leave on a high note.
KatScan follows. Similar to a vulture eating after lions, he eats a beat that’s already been killed. This is overkill. It’s beyond impressive. KatScan’s style brings something else to the song. Another contribution that makes the song truly complete. KatScan’s wordplay is remarkable. It’s concrete and subtle, it goes over your head. His delivery is brash and his flow is brash. The chemistry between the duo is amazing and this is by far their best showing. Moreover, this son is easily amongst the best project songs on the project.
Free Agents is a good showing. Filled with introspective content that analyzes self-doubt, persistence and ambition. ODC proves himself as gifted MC and shows he can make music equally as enticing as his verses. The vast majority of the project is of a good quality and there’s only one definite low. Many established veterans lack the ability to create something of his nature. It’s a well thought of idea that was executed equally as well. It’s cohesive, there’s resolution to the sense of pessimism and transpires feelings of motivation. It’s truly impressive and a step in the right direction for ODC.