Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Oddisee: The Iceberg [Mello Music, 2017]
This 32-year-old Somali-Afro-American from the D.C. suburbs articulates his wordly-wise raps over quicksilver jazz-funk beats that might as well be live and often are. Of course he's political, as in "I'm from black America, this is just another year" or "You around here acting like we equal but we greater." But what I love is his philosophical and psychological interests: conditioning as destiny, biology as destiny, how human beings acquire and apply knowledge, mental illness as a by-product of oppression, the special perils of the African-American middle class, the special burdens of the artist whose immigrant parents dreamed he would have a recognizable career. There's a love song so twisty I hope he came out on the other side. And there's also a song where he figures out "I just want to be happy/free/left alone/me." So I hope and half believe he did. "No trophy on the mantle but I got a mantle," he brags. Attaboy. A-