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Foot In the Door (Mixed By DJ Jazzy Jeff)

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Album Review

For being relatively unknown outside his home turf, producer/MC Oddisee was still able to assemble a pretty impressive set of collaborators for his debut full-length, Foot in the Door. This is part thanks to his work with DJ Jazzy Jeff on the track "Musik Lounge" from the 2002 album Magnificent, a minute and a half of which is included here. Actually, many of the songs have already been released in one form or another, so instead of putting them in their entireties, Oddisee (with the help of Jeff, who mixes everything) just includes clips of them. In fact, there are few full-length tracks here, the exceptions being the brand-new ones that he tacks on at the end (as well as the "Intro," where he explains that his album is a way to introduce not only himself to underground rap fans nationwide but also his crew, Low Budget, and the entire D.C.-area hip-hop scene), which means that Jazzy Jeff's role is important, and he does a good job of mixing everything together, making Foot in the Door more of, well, a mix album than a proper debut. Though there are moments where it would be nice to hear the MC actually finish a song, this technique works well, especially considering Oddisee produces most of the record, giving listeners a taste of everything he's capable of without having to release a three-disc set. He's talented behind the boards, sampling from soul records and using warm synth chords and guitar riffs to make his beats, but he's equally good behind the mic. He often follows the typical rap route and rhymes about his own skills and women, but he also tackles gentrification ("They move away from the 'burbs to escape the monotony/Bring along wit' 'em their pilate and pottery classes") as well as the business of hip-hop ("Make sure that white folks check you, because if they don't buy your records/You can't afford that necklace that you try and get respect with") with facility. He has a fluid delivery style, reminiscent of Jay-Z's or Phonte Coleman's, and he's pretty consistently strong throughout, becoming more aggressive or slowing down when necessary. His tracks with other rappers are especially successful, Oddisee choosing beats that fit each of the MCs well. The funk-based, old-BEP-styled "Boogie," featuring both Asheru and J-Live, is driving and fun, while "In Check," which takes verses from Supastition and Low Budget member Kenn Starr (who spits the line "I'm like an iPod and you're like a...Walkman"), is bass drum-heavy and could almost be at home in a club. Foot in the Door's a good album, good enough that one has to hope Oddisee's being serious when he says that this is only the beginning, because he's definitely someone to hear more of.

Biography

Born: 22 January 1965 in Philadelphia, PA

Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

The accomplishments of DJ Jazzy Jeff, the Philadelphia-born Jeff Townes, predate and extend far beyond his multi-platinum, Grammy-winning partnership with Will Smith. Revered for his party-rocking skills, which he began to develop as a youngster in his parents' basement, and acknowledged as a pioneer for his development of the transformer scratch, Townes has also worked in studios since 1985, when he provided uncredited scratching on tracks by Korner Boyz and Cazal Boys. A few years into his subsequent...
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Foot In the Door (Mixed By DJ Jazzy Jeff), DJ Jazzy Jeff
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