Reviews Oh No Ohnomite

Oh No

Ohnomite

Following two collaborative efforts already this year alongside his fellow beatsmith and emcee The Alchemist as the duo Gangrene—the Vodka & Ayahuasca LP and the Odditorium EP—the West Coast producer and rapper Oh No returns once more for a solo mission with Ohnomite. Oh No—the younger brother of Madlib and son of singer Otis Jackson—was granted unmatched right of entry to the Rudy Ray Moore/Dolemite audio archives—which included legendary material from The Human Tornado, Petey Wheatstraw, the Dolemite Soundtrack and more, plus a multitude of previously unreleased and alternate acapellas and instrumentals. With that access came free rein to sample and manipulate it any way he see fit. The end result is a trunk-rattling chaotic burlesque of witty lyricism and gritty beats assembled from the nastiest fragments of funk, soul and Blaxploitation.

Although he has developed into an easily identifiable emcee, Oh No is not the most skilled of rappers—at an evident disadvantage when attempting to hold a track on his own. Perhaps self-aware of this singular flaw, he is not one to attempt a project wholly unaccompanied. Oh No rounded up a horde of indie rap’s preeminent emcees for Ohnomite, resulting in more guest spots than a Joey Bada$$ Pro Era feature. Carrying the familiar resonances of Gangrene; Evidence and The Alchemist rejoin forces alongside Oh No on “Real Serious”, a track that piggybacks on some of the best moments of Vodka & Ayahuasca. And perhaps sponging worthy collaborators from his brother, he also brings aboard a few emcees that helped to craft some of Madlib’s finest moments; with MF Doom, Guilty Simpson and Phil Da Agony from Strong Arm Steady all featured on separate tracks. One of the most surprising guest spots though, comes from the recently reemerging veteran Eric Sermon. On “Running the Show” the historically controversial half of EPMD, Sermon spits, “Eric in the house—oh no!/Take cover—niggas step back one row/Yo, this flow is a Mississippi River/And it’s Super Fly like Missy was its sister/Young motherfucker man, address me as 'Mister'/Cats gather ‘round as if it’s a bar mitzvah/All looking around—debatin’ if I’m nice/PMD couldn’t make it, so I’m gonna have to wreck it twice!” Overall, Ohnomite has a whopping twenty plus guest emcees on it. And it’s that kind of variety that attributes the one of the albums greatest strengths.

An equally durable asset lies with Oh No's skills as a producer. Ohnomite is bursting with mood-altering headphone music. On “Hallucinations”, he manipulates a searing bass line to the point where it sounds like a fly is stuck in your ear canal, while raining in an eerie synth reminiscent of the stabbing scenes in Psycho; culminating in a panic attack-inducing backdrop over which Prozac Turner and Oh No spit apropos drug-hazy rhymes. Similarly, “Whoop Ass” features Onyx’s Sticky Fingaz and Oh No rapping over a nervous mix of psychedelic jazz, alluring percussion and creeper chimes, complete with scratches by DJ Romes. With Rudy Ray samples in rap music being nearly as old as rap music itself—a matrimony treading dangerously close to having run its course—it is astonishing how well Oh No has hewn the pluperfect Dolemite hip-hop assemblage. He masterfully interweaves snippets of film and filthy standup routines in with judiciously crafted head-nod-isms. Although Oh No deserves departure from comparisons to his sibling, Ohnomite is analogous with Madlib’s Guilty Simpson collaboration OJ Simpson, in that it plays as much like a vaudevillian-esque variety show, as it does a hip-hop record.

8.5 / 10Nathan G. O'Brien
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