One of the most vociferous critiques of our generation is that a general apathy has infected our entire universal view. In the face of war, inequality, and questionable leadership, we have grown complacent in lives characterized by materialism, caring little about the notion of affecting change. Those from earlier times lament that our musicians only reinforce this lazy and irresponsible sentiment; once a tool for artists to voice discontent and raw ideals, hip-hop has devolved into a medium where entertainers espouse the virtues of sex, cars, drugs…and bling.
While these critics have a point, one doubts they have ever listened to O.B. is the shortened version of another acronym O.B.I.E. — One Brother in Evolution. This Paterson rapper, who is quite possibly the most observant guy in hip-hop, issues an urgent call to arms against the hypocrisy of the establishment, coloring it with old school flavors and modern urban samples, character portraits, and fiery yet clever lyrical diatribes pointing out our ignorance, corporate America, discriminating minorities, fatal relationships, religion, the hip-hop grind, and a whole lot more. In short, nobody gets a free ride on O.B.I.E.’s all-embracing, “Celestial Offerings”.
The curtain opens on “Determinism” (Prod. By Reese Jones), where keyboards ominously loop over stuttering percussion, and O.B. bursts onto the track, spitting out alternative life lessons to his audience.
He launches into the rest of the album, fully aware that everyone who just listened to the opening track is going to feel uncomfortable with the in-your-face affirmations, yet undeniably curious as to what else this rapper has to say. Particular venom is reserved for many of these tracks as O.B. prides himself on being a haven of progressive thought and spinning tales that turn conventional imagery onto its head.
The importance “Celestial Offerings” is that it lets us know why someone is expressing his inner thoughts. O.B.’s frustration with any kind of ‘system’ in all walks of life is sometimes so apparent in his voice, in his rhymes, and in his subject matter, that we are compelled to listen to the man.
Of course, his ability to weave a sophisticated story of these events and thoughts should not be discounted; it is central to what makes this one of the best hip hop albums I’ve heard this year, along with a handful of other.
In the world of underground hip-hop, O.B. is king. His ideas bleed poetically over a brilliant mixture of indie hip-hop wit and Top 40 bravado. The 16 track album is stuffed with a consistent number of producers and a few features – among them SaFE, Culture Kev, Dano B. Picasso, J.Nolan & Bretagne.
But while there are a featured guest appearances on the album, O.B. always dominates with the gravitas of his rhymes and the intensity of his delivery. If you aren’t familiar with O.B, it is likely because he has never signed to a major label and his following has been personally cultivated through independent releases like this one.
Conscious, independent, and determined are all words that can be used to describe O.B. On the evidence of his latest effort, it is quite clear that he is a workaholic, constantly striving for perfection in a music genre that reeks of populism and commercialization.
This album is a rather nice combination of lyrical verbosity and diverse production, something that has been missing from Hip Hop in quite a while. Essential listening includes “You And I” [Prod. By Reese Jones], “Round Square Block Circle” (Prod. By Arkutec), “Deliverance” (Prod. By RaCharm), “Suddenly” [Prod. By RaCharm], “Sustenance” [Prod. By RaCharm] and “Mutual Jealousy” [Prod. By RaCharm].