Review: Oddisee — Live At San Fran Bath House, Wellington

Gigs, Music, Review

04 Oddisee

Photo courtesy of Mickey Poppy-Lees

It’s another Saturday night at San Francisco Bath House. Many gigs have been at Bodega of late, and it’s nice to be back at San Fran on Cuba Street. Local DJs Jay Knight and Dam G have warmed up the crowd nicely. Raiza Biza’s on next —  he’s bringing the heat for the main man tonight, Washington DC—Mello Music Group artist, Oddisee.

Delivering a set that was laid back, smooth, jazzy. Raiza, despite all these slow-type adjectives orchestrated a slow, controlled crescendo that peaked with his song ‘Sleepless City’ —  a chill track with the ability to amp you up at the same time — it’s an infectious juxtaposition.  When Jay Knight drops Raiza’s ‘Girl With No Name’, we’re left sailing the night on an ocean of lyrical jazz whispers where the stars litter the sky and the black horizon has no end. Raiza became my new favourite conductor that night. “I can’t stop staring at him” I tell my friend Hari.

Not nearly as entranced as I was, she replies, “He’s real good girl — definitely a good rapper.” Then something clicks in her thinking and it’s like she just discovered an inner truth about me that I’ve always been secretly aware of.  Pointing and laughing  with delight she’s just snapped me out; she’s inside my inside space, grinning with her Scarlett Johansson mouth. She turns and looks back at Raiza. I’ve been caught. Luckily, someone with love for me done it. As the whole audience stand nestled in the palm of Raiza’s hand I wonder, when did he get this good? He was only down here for Kev Brown a few months ago, but he’s way more relaxed this show around, and he has this kind of grace as he paces the stage with his six-foot-something stature. Stalking it like a lion in a cage we paid to see, I marvel at the animal. Hariata’s smiling at me again. I can’t help it. Wait didn’t he call an album Caged Lion a few years back? I’ll check when I get home —  as anti-social as it is to be staring at my phone in the club, I have to write this all down now. The writer in me refuses to forget a single moment. If I don’t write it now, the moment will pass. I’ll be sober. It wont be the same.

“Does he have CD’s?” asked my friend we call the Nanna Gangsta. “Yeah man all his music is online.”

Dam G comes on and plays an old school track that can’t match the heights Raiza set, it’s dull in comparison and so is the next one….. Until it isn’t, G Unit’s Hate It Or Love It creeps in, Mary J backing in first, suddenly you’re jamming. Then, Let’s Stay Together by Al Green. The DJ’s got you where he wants you. Dam G is the kind of conductor that lets the music speak for him where he wont. He is that DJ you’re not entirely sure where to place, until he’s deep into a set, dropping evocative 90’s bangers, reminding you of a much freer time in life.

As Oddisee walks on stage without any fuss. He’s tall, graceful, non-assuming. A muslim man, whose father is from Sudan; his stature embodies the elements of  what I know Arabic to be — an elegant language written in the Quaran. What I know of Islam is that it’s a philosophical way of existing — all these elements comes out in his verses. When he opens his mouth he is clearly American but where he isn’t stereotypically American, exudes from is body language. He is graceful, majestic, his aura is warm. There’s something about Oddisee that is royal.

Photo courtesy of Mickey Poppy-Lees

Photo courtesy of Mickey Poppy-Lees

He’d been given the highest-level welcome our home crowd had to give. We the audience were warmed up and ready. Special effects smoke surrounds him. ‘RESPECT,’ he says. As the bass dropped, it vibrated through bones with a staunch feeling akin to a soul-clap.

Oddisee: ‘Wellington, what’s good?’

Audience: “Rawwrrr, yeaahhhh [whistles]”. We’re good to go.

Oddisee: “Oohh, ohhoohoo, oh, oh, ohhhhh…. Is y’all ready to rock?”. This guy is a rockstar. His shine illuminates San Fran.

Deep into his set, featuring songs from his new joint Tangible Dream and last year’s epic release People Hear What They See, he’s got the whole club at church, and as he sails through his tracks, no one wants him to leave. He drops a personal favourite, ‘You Know Who You Are’ off People Hear What They See. Now we’re in the belly of the beast… Rocking and rolling with the rockstar.

“In any event just make sure that you know who you are”. 

Then he spits an acapella, which in one blow, assassinates any other I’ve heard done live to date. It involves the crowd, bounces us — commands us up, then smooths us back down. It goes for bars. We begin to realise he’s letting us down gently. He’s going to leave soon, he indicates as nicely as he can.

There’s an encore.  “Oddisee! Oddisee! Oddisee!”

He comes back — but just like everything, there will be an end. And just as we’re absolutely marveled, he thanks us and leaves just as quietly as he came. The whole show hosted by Hadyn Middleton of Madcap Touring was one of the biggest waves I have seen all year; it came crashing down from such a height, rolled on the stage, broke and then dissolved back into the night.

Review: David Dallas — Runnin’ Tour, Wellington Show

Gigs, Music, Review

Finger_Waves 781

Missioning into Bodega, Wellington city, last Friday night for David Dallas’ Running Tour; local acts  Jay Knight, Percieve and Kid’ n’ Rei had warmed up the crowd so well, the condensation from people-sweat was already running down the walls.  This only came to our attention, however, when The Daylight Robbery band took the stage; our camera lenses had fogged up to the point of, ‘oh shit, we can’t shoot anything’. Anna from Jam Photography spent their first song outside demystifying her lenses. As TDR  began to play, the sound dynamic in the room changed and  the air began to carry a tenor of rock, jazz and funk which all came flooding into my ears, settling in and vibrating in my happy place. If I was to sought an adjective for TDR it would be ‘rumble’. Not in a I’m going to fight you kind of way, more like, ‘I’m going to get under your skin, in your bones and make feel good’ type way.

What was to come next was a David Dallas set unlike any I’d ever seen before. Partnered with Jordache from Fire & Ice; David’s crew, The Tint Squad had Bodega’s intensity levels raised to peaks, that would drop you down hard, if you were on a metaphoric mountain. I didn’t recognize Wellington in that show. The audience were on point. As Dallas has been saying on recent recordings like the latest single, ‘Runnin’ he is taking the country to unknown frontiers. On Friday night we saw what he’s been talking about.

Ending with Runnin’, fans were all too happy to take part in the show, clapping along to the opening sample which David’s said in a NZ Herald interview, ‘she’s a Catholic nun, who apparently thought she was the Bride of Christ’. Bodega could have been a pseudo gospel church as fans were all too happy to get loose. They were extremely in favour of this man, who recently achieved ‘endorsed status’ with G-Shock New Zealand presenting him his own watch. The word ‘endorsment’ in the dictionary is synonymous with the word championship, title, or crown and David seems to be taking his in New Zealand Hip Hop, not with gloat but dexterity, as well, if he is the figurative driver of this operation, The Daylight Robbery would be the brawn and the hub where the soul is. Put together, these guys are setting new standards for live Hip Hop in New Zealand. Yeah, Kiwi rappers have done this before, but it was the element of rock in the music and not jazz that captivated me. It took them out of rap and ‘Hip Hop’ stereotypes and the politics over what it ‘should be’. The Daylight Robbery’s EP can be downloaded HERE

Under The Radar reported on TDR: A ‘relatively unknown trio of brothers Chris (keys) and Ron (drums) with brother from another mother Sale (bass). [They] are set to bring a live show and production sound like no other on the NZ scene to date.’ This statement rang true Friday night, it felt like David had brought all his overseas experience back with him to offer a new option for hip hop fans locally — one whipping at the heels of successful American rapper status.  Without forgetting where they’ve come from the band rebuilt songs like ‘Get Out The Way’ and ‘Big Time’.

‘Shot Welly’ the quiet seeming Jordache acknowledged into his mic. ‘This is fucking superb’, said Dallas, who wouldn’t take off his hoodie, preferring instead to sweat it out with the crowd. As his live show  balanced on a tight rope between rock star and rap star, the energy was electric and humid at the same time. As if we were in a foreign country. I wonder if when Ddot wrote ‘I’m from New Zealand their not used to seeing different faces, and they don’t ever turn the radio to different stations’ he was seeking to change that about us. I like what he’s doing. Falling Into Place will be out October 18th, 2013.

Check out our photo album from the show by Jam Photography ( By Anna Jamieson) HERE

Newness: Pilots- Jay Knight x Diaz Grimm x Raiza Biza

Interview, Newness

Tomorrow morning Wellington-based, Young Gifted and Broke producer, Jay Knight, will release his latest single ‘Pilots’ featuring Diaz Grimm and Raiza Biza. Having received a preview of the track, whendidyoufallinlovewithhiphop.com spoke to Raiza Biza about their production process at the Red Bull studio in Auckland, and the main point in the song, which is the message. In it, the three artists call on people to make better efforts to understand new implications surrounding the recent passing of the GCSB bill. In an effort to rark up everyone,  but particularly the youth,  they rap: “Maybe we should throw away the Key, before they throw away our future for a monetary thing. Maybe we should throw away the key, before they beat us to it, and they throw away we”. The sound and beat itself is in typical Jay Knight fashion — first-class. When talking to Raiza Biza he explains he was invited by Diaz and Jay to feature on the track and record at Red Bull. He says the GCSB was already an issue he’d been following, so naturally, he felt the urge to feature on-track. He said that being from Africa he knows first hand what it means to lose a ‘freedom’ as important as personal privacy. He feels that once it is gone, it is very hard to get back; therefore people need to appreciate it now.

“Too many believe that someone else will do something, well you are someone else. Well you are someone else” – Diaz on ‘Pilots’.

HH: What was the inspiration behind the track Pilots?

R: It was due to the climate around the time that the GCSB law was being passed. Diaz and Jay came to me with the track. Diaz had his verse and I had a listen. It was something that I had been following too so I decided to give my input. But I guess it was just something to get people talking about it and get the young people to perhaps look into it and see how it was going to affect them.

HH: So you recorded at Red Bull in Auckland?

R: This came about because Diaz had a relationship develop with someone at Red Bull and they’d organised for him to be able to use the studio; so it was a good experience in that sense… they just have top of the line everything; the best people behind the desks, so just pretty much, it’s as good as it can be.

HH: What the working relationship like between you and Diaz?

R: Well you know he’s a very creative guy and the way I like to make music is to bounce ideas back and forth until the concept is there and you know he was very prepared.  He had a vision for the track and he already had his part ready and made my job easy so he’s a great guy to work with and he’s a nice guy.

HH: And what are you hoping people receive from the song?

R: You know I just wanted something….just the act that shakes things up a little. I think everyone is entitled to their own opinion as far the law goes. But I think it’s something that people should be talking about and that’s something that Diaz brought up, you know, it’s just about getting people talking about it. I heard David Cunliffe saying today that if he got into government he would repeal that law and change it. So you know, those are things that people need to have opinions about.

HH: And what’s your main concern with the GCSB now it’s gone through as a New Zealand citizen?

R: Well you know being from Africa, I’ve seen countries, you know once you lose those basic freedoms — the freedom of privacy; being able to communicate with people without being scrutinised at every move, it’s really hard to get that back. I think people, sometimes when you have it, you take it for granted but…it’s an important thing so that’s the angle that I was looking at it at.

Review: Raiza Biza- Winter Solace

Music

Good music can remind you of a perfect moment— and a great song is seductive enough to leave you with that memory for life. In an interview with Jay-Z and Zane Lowe, for the BBC, Jay-Z said: I wouldn’t do an album just to mark a season. On the flip-side Oddisee did it. And when he did, he got his followers and the underground excited. Raiza Biza’s latest offering for a cold New Zealand winter, sounds like his Summer. EP in chill mode. It’s also his style honed in; as he is making improvements both sonically and creatively. From beginning to end, it’s a sexy, warm offering for shivery listeners. Hopefully this season you have a lover to appreciate this album with…or for.

Producers choiceVaughan, Thee Tony Douglas, Jay Knight, Iron Will, Crime Heat, Tausani, Myele Manzanza, Jordo Hornblow and Nu-Vintage all have beats featured and Raiza’s artistry on verse tie them all together superbly.

From the opening song you can tell ‘Winter Solace’ is the theme but it doesn’t deter an air of intelligence and personal honesty laced on-verse. Raiza reps for his crew Ammo Nation and being the A$AP or Kendrick of his team is a position he takes seriously. Also connected with Young Gifted and Broke, Biza strikes an ideal balance between his boys and his professional world. On ‘Winter Solace’ he talks about lovers, the cold, personal reflection and the reality of being a real person having to keep a 9-5 job whilst trying to pursue his music; though the age-old theme of a struggling artist is not tedious when Raiza uses it. There’s surely a song in there you’ll click with on this release and if you’re a listener who just likes the vibes then Raiza’s latest offering is definitely for you.

Shouting out love for his people in Wellington, Biza will be back down in the capital opening for Kev Brown Saturday, September 14th. Yes, Wellington loves Raiza back. As the winter has roped me into listening to 90’s R&B warmth like Raheem Devaughn, Ginuwine, John Legend and Musiq Soulchild; Winter Solace has the perfect vibe to reset me back to my first love: Hip Hop.

Check out: You Make Me, First Light

Download Winter Solace HERE.