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Exodus Into Unheard Rhythms

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Album Review

The beats on the first album by Madlib's brother, Oh No, proved that you can't consider nepotism to explain why he was recording for Stones Throw, one of the best hip-hop labels in America. Oh No's lyrics and delivery, however, were another matter. Resting uncomfortably between the aggression of mainstream hardcore and the cerebral bent of most underground rap, Oh No failed to get a response from either audience. No wonder, then, that the best tracks on The Disrupt featured guest vocals — from Stones Throw mainstays Wildchild and MED. On the surface, Oh No's second album, Exodus into Unheard Rhythms, sounds like a much better proposition, not least because every track has a guest rapper (and some great ones, too). Oh No also produced the entire record using only samples from Galt MacDermot, one of the more unlikely heroes in hip-hop. MacDermot, the man who brought the world "Good Morning Starshine" (he co-authored Hair), also occupies a similar chair to David Axelrod and Quincy Jones for his contributions to beat-based music (soundtracks including Cotton Comes to Harlem, orchestral works, and a series of albums with his New Pulse band that featured Bernard "Pretty" Purdie, Wilbur Bascomb, and Idris Muhammad). Oh No has only improved as a producer, making the usual audio-detritus loops — vocal samples, a horn hook, three and a half notes from a string section — extraordinarily funky, in a style that recalls Kanye West as much as Madlib. But even with help from a talented cast (Murs, Posdnuos, Cali Agents aka Rasco and Planet Asia, AG, Vast Aire), the productions far outshine the raps. Oh No confederates Aloe Blacc, Roc C, and Frank N Dank are not in the same league with his productions, and with a total of 21 features, there are no chances to concentrate on the excellent beats. Exodus into Unheard Rhythms would have fared much better with the occasional instrumental.


Born: Oxnard, CA

Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

As if the family weren't busy enough, son Michael (brother of DJ phenom Madlib, son of soul singer Otis Jackson, Sr., and nephew of jazz trumpeter Jon Faddis) also decided to try his hand in the music world. Nicknamed Oh No the Mischievous Rebel by Lootpack MC Wildchild, the youngest Jackson soon shortened his name to simply "Oh No." Hooked on DJ'ing and rapping since age 11, Oh No would practice making beats during breaks at work. The effort paid off when Oh No recorded his first singles with Stones...
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Exodus Into Unheard Rhythms, Oh No
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