Creating something original by flipping existing artistic elements in society is endemic to Hip-Hop as an art form and culture. Music isn’t the only thing that’s been sampled from the world at large, however; imagery, attitude, and style have inspired innumerable artists. Rudy Ray Moore’s iconic character Dolemite is arguably peerless in this respect and belongs on the Mt. Rushmore of bad asses imprinted on the culture’s collective conscience. Disenfranchised people will always look up to someone that will go for theirs without capitulating to the morals and values of mainstream society, and Dolemite’s brash, I-don’t-give-a fuck lineage can be seen in everybody from NWA to Eminem and Odd Future. Producer/Rapper Oh No was granted access to Rudy Ray Moore’s entire filmography and record catalogue, resulting in the thoroughly entertaining Ohnomite.
Although the album is full of guest spots ( MF Doom, The Alchemist, Evidence, Sticky Fingaz, and Phife Dawg, among others), there isn’t a single misstep. Oh No, Evidence, and The Alchemist, team up for the opening salvo “Real Serious.” If Jason Bourne smoked blunts, this is what he would listen to. All three producer/emcees get off on a malevolent yet understated banger, spitting the type of rhymes that only someone who makes beats come up with. Dissing wack emcees and figuratively eviscerating folks is always cool but it’s nice to hear some verses out of left field sometimes and right now Oh No is one of the few beatsmiths whose bars can measure up to the brilliance of his production.
For any doubters of Oh No’s ability to spit, there is the second single from Ohnomite, “3 Dollars” featuring the inimitable MF Doom. Doom brings his typical top notch wordplay and surprisingly Oh No holds his own. Maybe it’s only because the song clocks in at 1:28 but in that time Oh No manages to get busier on the mic than your neighborhood Applebees on a Friday night.
…In the balances of haters they act tight/ and these drunk ass niggas always tryna piss fightin’/ain’t no wrong, tell em/ they blow more smoke than a motorbikes tailpipe/seen the villain chillin’ had to pay a visit superhuman shit/raise the ceiling while I raise a million while I’m in the building/bitches sittin catchin’ major feelings/like a bad case of intervention straight ventin’/cat fights still appeal to my inner vision…
On “Touch it” Frank Nitt adds another solid chapter to the already fruitful Detroit/Oxnard, CA creative connection originated by J Dilla and Madlib. Over a bouncy track complemented with swinging, rhythmic horn blasts, Nitt’s Dolemite-like musings about the joys of horizontal mambo is the best not-corny sex rap of the year. Chino XL comes out from the rock he’s been hiding under lately and blesses “Time” featuring Roc C with a blistering sixteen that serves as a reminder as to why his name’s been mentioned in the rarefied air of Elzhi, Canibus, Pharoahe Monch, and Eminem in any best lyricist conversation. As an emcee Chino XL can spit with so much intricacy and ferocity that he overpowers some of the tracks he gets on. Not here though. Oh No meets his end of the bargain with a relentless, frenetic harpsichord (yes harpsichord) laced banger perfectly tailored to Chino XL’s skill set.
That ability is what makes Ohnomite one of the better compilations in a long ass minute. It falls somewhere in between Soundbombing I and II on the dopeness meter. For Oh No, crate digging is practically a family institution and ultimately, crate digging makes this ambitious project a success. Things couldn’t have come together any better. From every emcee bringing their A game, to the diverse but uniformly funky production all the way down to the audible treats for interludes, Ohnomite is an inspired tribute to Rudy Ray Moore and his legacy. After his death in 2009 the New York Daily News stated “Many of his fans never wanted him to become a gruff, lovable old codger on a TV show, because so much of his appeal stemmed from the fact he was never acceptable in polite society.” Oh No’s creation is the same in a way.
Ohnomite won’t get any radio play but with folks blatantly making disposable music for a fast buck, a project like this has that much more value. The memory of Rudy Ray Moore is in safe and highly capable hands for the time being.
Out of 5
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