ODDJOBS - Interview

The Midwest is not the first place people look at when they want to discover fresh hip hop. But things started to change a few years ago with Atmosphere key Overcast! release. Coming from Minnesota as well, Oddjobs is a band of two MC’s (Advizer, Crescent Moon) and two DJ’s (Anatomy, Deeltax) from the Cases of Mistaken Identity crew that recently released a very convincing Absorbing Playtime EP. We whished to know more about them and all of them aggred to answer separately to this interview.

First, I must confess that we don't know you very well, especially in France. Can you please tell us what is the band's history and the background of each of you?

Advizer: we were basically some of the younger people doing music in the Minnesota scene at the time, so we decided to work together. We formed the crew, CMI (Cases of Mistaken Identity), and now it has boiled down to six of us. Oddjobs plus Nomi and Naimles.

Crescent Moon: Oddjobs is a subdivision of a larger crew called Cases of Mistaken Identity. CMI formed around 1995, as a group of friends who all were heavily influenced by hip hop culture and wanted to get involved as well. At one point CMI had about 30 members and over the years has filtered down to six. Oddjobs formed around 1997. Advizer and I met at local Rhyme Sayers Entertainment shows. Deetalx and Anatomy were already a part of CMI, as was I as well, and Advizer joined CMI once we realized we all had similar goals and musical interests.

You're coming from Minnesota, which is quite an unusual place for hip hop. Is there a strong hip hop community there? Can we expect new Oddjobs coming from there in a short or middle term?

Advizer: the next project is the CMI album. Look out for a single from Oddjobs within the next year.

Anatomy: there is a decent hip hop scene here, the most well known group being Atmosphere. It is an open minded scene. Oddjobs is part of a group called CMI and we will be releasing an album under that name.

Crescent Moon: Minneapolis and St. Paul have very strong hip hop scenes. There were definately hip hop crews who made a huge impact during the early stages of a local hip hop community in the Twin Cities. Minnesota is just now starting to get respect and national recognition as its own branch of hip hop. The midwest was pretty much the last place in America to be put on the map by mcs, djs, breakers and graf writers. As far as another Oddjobs, I don't think we'll be repeated. There are plenty of upcoming local groups with fresh ideas and innovative views of making good rap music, so I have faith that if anything, we may influence some younger heads in the scene.

Your beats have a strong live/concert feeling, with lots of instruments and quite complex drums? How do you manage this?

Anatomy: I put a lot of thought into what I want the music to be and sound like and I piece together laylers of sounds until the song is feels done. As far as getting a live sound I just listen to a lot of music and learn its sound and feel until I am able to work with it.

Deeltax: each beat gets a lot of attention, mad revisions, hours just listening to it, etc. We try and make stuff that keeps people listening, you know, changes etc., vs. throwing down a loop for the whole song. The variety of instruments is almost something that seems natural, you know, making them real full, while still holding the feel of the track.

What are your main influences within hip hop?

Advizer: my main influences are Breezly Brewin from the Juggaknots, Slug, Labtekwon, Common, Lyrics Born, and Aceyalone.

Anatomy: my main influences are Latyrx, Freestyle Fellowship, and all the great mid-school jams.

Crescent Moon: I'm not sure that I can identify a main influence of mine in hip hop. I'm influenced by so many artists, and people, that I've collectively gained inspiration from numerous sources. I know that when I first started writing lyrics I was very inspired by Common, Black Thought, Atmosphere, Aceyalone and others to name a few. Every time a song I try to listen for techniques and format.

Deeltax: as far as hip hop goes, Shadow, Premier, Prince Paul, early Hieroglyphics and the RZA are the main ones, but there's a whole bunch = more, too many to list.

What's on your playlist right now?

Advizer: the D12 single, Antibalas' Liberation Afro Beat Vol. 1 album, Eugene McDaniels' Headless Heroes of the Apocalypse album, Freddie Foxxx The Lah, and the Typical Cats album.

Anatomy: Cannibal Ox's new album, Portishead - Portishead, Martin Sexton

Crescent Moon: current playlist: Cannibal Ox, Nina Simone, The Coup, Jimi Hendrix, and Radiohead.

Deeltax: Nobody Soulmates, Aesop Rock Float, Common Sense Resurrection (always), Company Flow and Cannibal Ox.

Your EP is full of strong jazz and funk sounding beats and music. Are they your favorite genres apart from hip hop? What are you listening to except hip hop?

Advizer: I like any music that is soulful. My favorite genres outside of hip-hop are afrobeat, and the heavy funk of the late 1960s and early 1970s. The rare funk. Anything inspired by James Brown.

Anatomy: I listen to anything with a groove and a lot of emotion.

Crescent Moon: I generally like all types of music. Not to sound generic, but good music will move me if its done well. It's not what you do but how you do it.

Deeltax: I love that stuff, but there's a lot of other stuff as well, Rock, Reggae/Dub. At the time Absorbing Playtime was made, that was what I was really feeling, but I wouldn't say that will be the main force forever in our music. AT the same time, it's all about the feel of a track, and within those genres of music the feel can be a driving factor.

Let's speak about emceeing. Apparently (I'm not sure my English is good) 'Peace Land Bread' is a story about an artist exhorting its fans to revolution. What's the exact meaning behind this song?

Advizer: the basic story is that an artist sees that hip-hop fans are starving for good music. This artist decides to lead this fanbase in a revolution by creating better music. He gets too proud, however, and too arrogant, and is then overthrown and assassinated by his followers. Cool, eh?

A friend told me that you did some songs with Eyedea - I never had the opportunity to listen to that. What was that? What's your connection with Eyedea?

Advizer: Eyedea is one of the first people I met in the Minnesota hip-hop scene. A couple summers ago, we decided to take a week and come up with some songs. They are compiled as an "album" called 'The Whereabouts of Hidden Bridges.' There are only a few copies in existence. It was one of the most enjoyable musical experiences I have had.

Crescent Moon: DJ Anatomy, Advizer and myself recorded a four-track tape in one week with Eyedea. We did it just to do it. I have been backing up Eyedea at shows for about four years now, and plan to continue working on sets with him and Dj Abilities.

Let's finish with the 3 standard questions French interviews always ask to American HH artists.

1) First, do you plan visiting Europe? Do we have any chance to see you and your fellows here, in short or middle term?

Advizer: I am dying to go to Europe, especially France. If anyone can arrange this, we would come in a second.

Anatomy: I'll be there is soon as we get a chance.

Crescent Moon: I will take any chance to perform in Europe. I had a blast during my las visit (CREscent Moon recently participated to the All Tomorrow Festival in the UK along with Atmosphere and Abilities). I know that Oddjobs would jump at the opportunity to play a gig overseas.

Deeltax: as soon as someone wants to bring us out there, we'll be there. I think it would be dope, I've never been to Europe.

2) Most of our compatriots do not understand English lyrics: do you consider they cannot appreciate your music just as Americans do?

Advizer: I do not think that is true at all. The soundscapes that Deetalx and Anatomy create are so multi-layered and funky, that I think anyone can at least appreciate the vibe of the music.

Anatomy: I assume they can only relate to the musical and emotional aspects of the songs and not anything pertaining to lyrical content.

Crescent Moon: when I began writing lyrics, I never considered the possibility that someone who didn't speak English would actually hear them. I think that our production is strong enough that someone could enjoy just listening to how the album sounds without completely understanding it, and still get something from it. I need to learn many languages before I die.

Deeltax: I think that they might miss some stuff, but hopefully what we do is = able to be understood universally from the emotion we put behind it.

3) Third and last question: what do you know about French HH?

Advizer: I wish I knew more.

Anatomy: I like a lot of the R&B influence in the music. Most French hip hop related stuff that I listen to has singing on it and very lush soulful sounds.

Crescent Moon : nothing.

Deeltax: to be completely honest, not much at all.

Any special message or statement to end this interview?

Advizer: look out for the CMI album coming soon, and please bring us to France. Peace.

Anatomy: in a couple of months the whole group will live in New York City, look for us there.

Crescent Moon : I would like to send a message to anyone who has enjoyed anything that we have made musically: I will dedicate my strength and sober mind to make music that you can feel. CMI/Oddjobs will continously grow and transform throughout the stages of our own lives, but our devotion to music will remain. Take care of yourself.

Deeltax : pick up the EP, and hopefully we'll be in France soon. CMI. Thanks.

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