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Friday, October 20, 2017

I Get to Make the Music I Love

by Gary Schwind (writer), Laguna Niguel, December 12, 2007

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Orange County hip-hop artist Oddity discusses the importance of remaining independent and not becoming a part of the cookie cutter aspect of the music business.

With all the references material things, popular hip-hop can seem more like an ad campaign than a style of music. Orange County independent hip-hop artist wants to bring the social conscience back to hip-hop.

What's the story behind the name Oddity?

Out of my squadron of people, I was always the strange one, just a little different. My friend who I grew up with, Castor, he gave me the name. He used to call me odd. We started getting into music around sixteen, about ten years ago. It went from odd to Oddity. Plus, a lot of hip-hop is just bland and materialistic. Being different, separating myself from that, I just stuck with it.

Describe your style.

It's socially-driven hip-hop. I guess everything is pretty much socially-driven whether it's music on the radio, whatever it is. Because they're talking about their status. Mine I guess would be more the reality that I see. I hate to say political because I hate to put myself in a box. But I am a political cat. I read a lot of books. I like to keep myself educated. We live in a place that is supposed to be the greatest country on earth. But a lot of people take for granted that we have these freedoms that other people don't have. They don't know what the Constitution is. They don't know who their Congressman is. If you're educated, knowledge is power. I like to keep myself up to date. It's like technology. It changes every day.

Listening to your CD, I notice there's a lot of political and social commentary. Is there any one thing that piqued your interest in politics and social injustice?

Right now, our loss of civil liberties, the loss of a lot of rights. Habeas corpus. They can put us in jail without right to an attorney. That's pretty crazy. They're passing these laws, like the Military Commissions Act. They can deem you an enemy combatant and deport you. There was a lot to do with that. If you stay informed, people would know these things. It gets kind of disheartening. A lot of times, especially at live shows, people go out to have a good time, to escape the nine-to-five and the monotony. Some people don'™t want to hear politics. I'm not real preachy. I'm just kicking facts. My delivery, I have a different type of style as far as emceeing. I think that helps. Writing the album, there was a lot of things. Bush getting elected, and already knowing what was coming. September eleventh. The PATRIOT Act. Going to Iraq, our soldiers dying. Innocents dying. Precision bombs that aren't so precise. It was a lot of things.

Why is staying independent so important?

If you are signed to a major, they censor you. They want party songs. It used to be you had a balance as far as hip-hop. You had a balance between socially conscious hip-hop, underground rhyming, gangsta-rap, and party music. Now it's all party music. Every time I turn on the radio. I don't listen to the radio a lot, but every time I turn it on, I hear a song and I'm like, "This is the worst shit I ever heard." And then I turn it on a month later and I'm like, "THIS is the worst shit ever." It just keeps getting worse. It comes down to something like 1984. The language is butchered so much that these guys are just saying nothing. It's the same thing. I feel that a major label, that's what they want. They're in such a bind right now with record sales and they blame it on downloading. It's not downloading. It's that they release this pre-packaged shit, no matter if it's rock and roll, or pop. It's the same CD. That's why their sales are hurting.

I grew up on Hendrix, Moody Blues, Led Zeppelin, jazz, a lot of different things. I love all music. But all music right now is the same thing. It's a pre-packaged look, sound, designs. They stick to that cookie cutter thing, and that's what you've got. That's why I will stay independent. If they're trying to pick up distributing, our label, and everything was right, I'd think about it. As far as just signing my soul away, I'm cool.

You don't want to end up in one of those deals like Prince had in the 90s, where he was signed to do a certain number albums. They weren't letting him do what he wanted. And that's when he put out the crappiest music of his career on purpose.

That, you gotta respect. That's a "Fuck you!" Most people will do whatever they have to do to get signed. Independent has its ups and downs. The financial part is the down. I get to make the music I love. That's why I'm staying this way.

That's the most important thing?

For sure.

What would you be doing if you weren't making music?

Shit man, that's a hard one. I don't know. Maybe it could be different things. Music really did help me out. I could be moving furniture, or in a warehouse. But I would always pursue knowledge, try and educate myself. I'd probably be real unhappy. Let me ask you a question before you turn that off. What did you think about Hunter Thompson's death?

[Author's note: The URL of my website http://garygonzo.net is a tip of the cap to the great Dr. Gonzo.] Well, it was bound to happen. I'm a big Hunter S. Thompson guy. Losing him was like losing Evel Knievel. They're both American originals. There's no one that'™s going to duplicate what they did. I don't want to say it was tragic, but we certainly lost something when we lost Hunter S. Thompson, someone who can turn a mirror on Americans.

One the beast. For sure.

For more information about Oddity, visit http://www.myspace.com/theoddity.



About the Writer

Gary Schwind is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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