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BARCODE: Oddisee Dissects 9/11 Islamophobia In “Lifting Shadows”

Oddisee AlWasta

Oddisee exists at an interesting intersection in rap music. As he’s matured over the course of his 8-year career, his production continues to blur boundaries between acoustic soul, jazz, and pure hip-hop, but his bars have stayed scalpel sharp without drifting into the same esoteric territory. Projects like Rock Creek Park and Odd Seasons started him off on the path to soulstrumental hip-hop glory that hit a high point with last year’s stellar The Good Fight, and both the bars and the music are in rare form on “Lifting Shadows” from the free EP AlWasta that just dropped last week.

With the continued reverberations of the Black Lives Matter movement, police brutality, and Islamophobia and good old fashioned American Greed running rampant through politics as a potential Donald Trump presidency looms, it’s an interesting time to be a person of color in America. Oddisee’s position as a bi-racial Sudanese-African-American all glo’d up forces him into the racial sweet spot of everything the post-9/11 news primes Americans to fear, but he’s hardly concerned with your preconceived notions: “With that knowledge, I stay calm; when they search for bombs, all they find is green/All in your name; I’ve gotta name that’ll scare all the brave in the land of the free/All in the name of protecting a country that’s shooting its citizens dead in the streets,” he says with a nonchalance earned from years of working his way up the ladder.

Oddisee attacks big money interests (“I used to live in Northeast D.C., not too far from Capitol Hill/White House here, trap house there, they were so near you could go by feet/Never mind that cause that’s not news, let’s stay glued to the war on peace”) and U.S. foreign policy (“I met a boy who arrived in the rain, he lost his folks when they torched his home/That made me want to bring my fam before they see that side of a drone”) with precision, but still stands by the country at large (“I love my country, hate its politics.”). His ability to keep ideas simple and pointed makes him one of the most lethal MCs with a backing band you’ll hear this side of Black Thought, which is why “Lifting Shadows” is far and away this week’s Barcode: Check the lyrics below:

Just one dollar below 10K, that’s the amount I’m flying with
One more buck and the law comes out and they all want to know about why I’m rich
I’m not rich I’m just on the way back to the land where they need this grip
You give yours to a charity fund, I give mine to a cuz that’s sick
You see your name and it fourth on the list, scared I’m involved in the causing of pain
Lost somebody you loved in the towers and looking at me like I boarded the plane
I’m just an artist you’re not a target no use in arguing we all look the same
With that knowledge I stay calm when they search for bombs all they find is green
All in your name – I got a name that’ll scare all the brave in the land of the free
All in the name of protecting a country that’s shooting its citizens dead in the streets
I used to live in Northeast D.C. not too far from Capitol Hill
White House here, trap house there, they were so near you could go by feet
Never mind that cause that’s not news – let’s stay glued to the war on peace
Who gets blamed? Whoever can sway that the election sword’s what the order seeks
We just want to keep oil cheap, we just want to keep focus full
What that mean? Distraction’s came, I think my TV’s clothed in wool

Man I swear they have my phoned tapped
Man I swear they watching all my moves
Since 9/11 it ain’t too clear just who the target is
I love my country, hate its politics
Can’t just let me be
Can’t just let me live
Regardless my belief
I thought the fathers wrote it clear
But darkness all I see
And darkness all I hear
I’m trying to lift the shadow but the cloud ain’t got no give
Can’t just let me be
Can’t just let me live
Regardless my belief
I thought the fathers wrote it clear
But darkness all I see
And darkness all I hear
I’m trying to lift the shadow but the cloud ain’t got no give

I was on tour when the migrants came, saw their camps on side of the road
I met a boy who arrived in the rain, he lost his folks when they torched his home
That made me want to bring my fam before they see that side of a drone
But who wants us, we build your world it’s “labor’s cool, neighbors no”
I got a cuz that’ll drive your taxi, I got a cuz that’ll make your food
I got a cuz that’ll watch your kids and pick them up when they’re done with school
I got a cuz that’ll pump your gas, I got a cuz that’s good with tools
I got a cuz that’ll be your doctor after a test that I hope he’ll pass
Isn’t that what you fear most? But fear don’t trump your needs
Our pros do trump our cons though. And cons don’t trump your greed
And monsters’ what you make of us and we make you succeed
And that’s what makes this country great, it’s built by those who bleed
It’s built by those who came on boats, it’s built by those who flee
And you forgot your family tree and we’re just all your leaves
So if you just try to chop us down you only hurt your knees
And we could go in pieces but we’d rather come in peace

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