On Oddity and Inversions
Oddisee – “I’m From PG“
from Odd Spring EP (Oddisee, 2010)
Conventional wisdom has always been that the cities are hard, the burbs are soft. Particularly in the rap world, where kids named Buffy and Brad play soccer while the city is the vital center of everything that’s really real. Of course, this has never been true, but it’s becoming even more of an archaic construct as mass generational gentrification strikes most major American cities and longtime hood dwellers are pushed outward to the once placid Burbs.
The DC metropolitan area might be one of the best and earliest examples of this countertrend. It’s always been a small city with the thinnest of borders and recent reverse white flight (Dems in office!) has pushed things even further to where the spiritual line between DC and Maryland is almost completely indiscernible. Heading east from the city you just sort of hit a point where there are fewer bricks, more strip malls and gaps between house frames where there weren’t before. But the people, the mentality basically remains the same. This is probably why the #DMV micro-movement is the first major metropolitan rap scene to so explicitly embrace its suburban relatives. (This is also part of the reason that Go-Go article in the Post a while back was so ambiguous. OMG DC is pushing go-go to… just outside of DC, where everybody who grew up in DC lives now anyway.) The neighboring Prince George’s County occupies the majority of these borders. PG is huge, boasting a larger population than the city itself. It’s the wealthiest majority Black suburb in the nation but also saw 92 murders last year. (Crime on the whole though, was at an all time low.) I don’t know what, if anything, these conflicting statistics say about the tangible realness of that area anymore than I know what this suburban/urban inversion means for the future of hip hop (THE BLOOD FLOW CONSTRICTION OF SKINNY JEANS OFFSETS ALL THIS OPEN SPACE IN THE BOONIES) but I can speak from personal experience to say that PG is very real.
On his mostly instrumental (and completely free) Odd Spring EP Oddisee drops what I believe to be the first formal rap homage to PG County. It probably won’t be the last. Odd also seems to have picked up on the rap style of his uptown DC bred Diamond District partner XO and ran with it. He is sprinting in the right direction.