Nepotism has always existed in hip-hop, for better or for worse. Rapper gets on, then signs his less talented friends and cousins, many whom try to acts as clones of their successful peer, usually bringing down said rapper in the process. There are some exceptions to the rule; The Clipse are a pair of brothers who’ve always held their own; Consequence became more than just Q-Tip’s cousin; and Oh No has recently stepped from the shadow of his older brother Madlib.
In the case of Oh No and Madlib, the younger sibling has quite a legacy to live up to. As one of the underground’s super producers – who’s collaborated with the likes of J. Dilla and MF Doom – it’s easy to overlook Oh No. With Madlib releasing projects just about every month, do we really need to check for another brother from the Jackson family? And isn’t there already a popular artist out there with the legal name of Michael Jackson?!!?
Oh No recently shattered any preconceived notions that heads might have about him as one-half of the Gangrene crew with Alchemist. Together, the two have collaborated two arguably classic underground LP’s, finding Oh No matching Alchemist beat-for-beat in terms of production. With their more recent Vodka and Ayahuasca LP, the duo had reached such a creative synergy, that it was almost impossible to tell who produced what. But with his latest LP, OhNoMite, it becomes more clear what the Oh No sound is – cleaner than Madlib’s, more discomforting than Alchemist’s – and that’s a good thing. But a true testament to Oh No carving out his own niche is that with OhNoMite, he’s maintained his signature style, even in the case of building an entire LP around Rudy Ray Moore samples.
Movies like Dolemite and The Human Tornado have been a staple of hip-hop production over the last few decades, but this is the first time that the estate of Mr. Moore has given creative freedom to a producer to raid the crates and use any sample he chooses. And with that, comes a pretty exciting guest list, making OhNoMite never a dull listen. The album kicks of with “Real Serious”, reuniting the Gangrene crew, along with Evidence, pretty much picking right up where V&A left off. “3 Dollars” with MF Doom begs for the inevitable No Villain LP, while forgotten names like Prozack Turner and LMNO sound re-invigorated on both “Hallucinations” and “Life Games”. Even tracks like “Time” (feat. Chino XL) and “Whoop Ass” (feat. Sticky Fingaz) show that these oft-overlooked, aging emcees just need the right production to bring out the best in them at this stage in their careers.
Without Madlib or Alchemist to lean on, Oh No has finally stepped from beyond the shadows, proving to be one of the underground’s best producers in his own right. For so long, he was lumped in with the tight-knit Stones Throw family of emcees that were found on just about every one of the label’s releases – and while that crew has had a knack for quality – it also kept his tracklists from looking different from anyone else’s, leaving many heads to sleep on him. With OhNoMite, he takes a fresh concept, grabs some of the most popular artists of the backpack set, and holds his own right next to them.
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