This past Tuesday, to little fanfare and with minimal promotion, two hip-hop veterans dropped what may be the best album of 2009. Spanning seventeen skit- and guest-free tracks (produced by Show, Lord Finesse, and French affiliate E-Blaze) O.C. & A.G.’s Oasis is an excercise in songcraft and lyricism, boasting not only innumerable quotables but also a depth and maturity commensurate with the duo’s status as torchbearers of true-school, New York rap. The product of two years’ hard labor, Oasis benefits from the natural chemistry of O and A, who’ve shared both the stage and booth repeatedly throughout their long careers. Unforced, unrushed, and completely organic, it’s the kind of album that gets better with each listen; I found myself, after playing it through once, wanting to start all over at the beginning. While a few may not grab you on first listen, the beats are solid across the board, providing ample backing for some of the best performances of both emcees’ careers.
Given the competitive nature of rap, heads will argue about whether O.C. outraps A.G. or vice versa; I’d say that while that’s really a moot point, my vote goes to A.G. Omar more than holds his own, both alongside the Giant and on his two solo tracks, but Andre sounds so focused he had my jaw dropping repeatedly. Whether kicking bragaddocio with O or dropping serious knowledge on solos like “Reality Is” and “God’s Gift,” A.G. proves that great emcees can indeed age gracefully; after spinning Oasis these past few days I’ve got him in my top five, and I can’t think of many rappers who could match either his delivery or his lyrics. Case in point: this freestyle, so godamn hot O.C. declines to spit after hearing it.
As critics release their best-of lists for 2009, I can only hope that Oasis rates a few mentions. If not, expect O and A to keep grinding, like the rest of the Crates crew, putting out quality music for the few of us still checking for that real hip-hop.
This September has been dominated by rap veterans, with Raekwon, Jay-Z, M.O.P., and the duo of KRS-One & Buckshot all dropping new full-lengths. Aside from the Jay-Z joint, I’d really like to cop all the aforementioned releases, but, alas, my current finances don’t permit such extravagance. So I stay buying $1.00 CDs from Amoeba’s clearance section and assorted obscurities from Amazon’s online sellers (currently waiting on McGruff’s Destined to Be), while looking forward to October, when presumably I’ll have the funds to cop at least a couple of these September releases. Not to mention a few from October, which with releases scheduled from Cormega, Masta Ace & Ed O.G., and A.G. & O.C. (as well as the Pied Piper himself) is shaping up to be another great month for aging rappers and aging pedophiles alike. Let’s take a look at some of what October has in store.
O.C. & A.G. — OASIS(Oct. 27th)
O.C. & A.G. — “Think About It”
The first track to leak off this was solid, but this latest is straight fire. I love how O and A can kick basically positive rhymes, and yet still sound so hard. Both emcees sound as good as ever, and their natural chemistry is undeniable. This is grownup rap at its finest, and my gut tells me the album won’t dissapoint.
O.C. and A.G. — 2 For the Money (Prod. Showbiz, cuts by DJ Premier)
Looks like this O.C. and A.G. album is actually gonna happen, and I gotta say I’m pretty pumped. O and A may not be the best rappers out the crew (that would be Finesse and Big L) but they’re pretty damn consistent, and they both have classics under their belt. In this interview they talk about the project (sounds like Show and Finesse are handling most of the production), and also address the ever-present mystery of Fat Joe’s absence from all things D.I.T.C. Considering Diamond put Joe on, it seems pretty shitty for Joe to never acknowledge his Diggin’ In the Crates brethren. I can understand not wanting to tour, but what could he lose by doing a group album? If anything it would help him reestablish some of the cred he lost by moving to Miami and fucking with people like Khaled and Rick Ross. A lot of young rap listeners have no idea of Fat Joe’s pedigree in the game, and Joe seems strangely content to leave it that way. It’s almost like he’s embarrased to belong to one of the greatest collectives in rap history. Yeah, Joe, Terror Squad is much more relevant than D.I.T.C, keep repping that. Oh wait, who’s still in TS? Nobody? That’s what I thought.