Traveling Man

Traveling Man

Oddisee’s fifth album — and his second instrumental-only work — is a breakthrough for the Washington, D.C.-based producer. Every song on Traveling Man is named for a different locale, but the connections between sound and city are dreamlike rather than direct. “Miami” is given a sound that is large and lavish, while “Philly” is a swirl of stately orchestral soul. “Lagos” and “Sao Paulo” both echo the heavily rhythmic musical cultures of those cities, and conversely, the spare, haunting “Detroit” feels like a lament for a place abandoned. Traveling Man is kin to similar-minded projects by Madlib and J. Dilla, but Oddisee has a broader appreciation for contemporary rap trends than either of those producers. “Atlanta” is his twisted rejoinder to the bombastic beats of DJ Toomp and Shawty Redd, while “Houston” is as slow, low, and bangin’ as any beats from a Slim Thug or Z-Ro album. Oddisee’s two odes to his D.C. home hold a special place on Traveling Man, but his three-part tribute to Los Angeles is the album’s highlight. Though it features no rapping, Traveling Man has as much to say as any hip-hop album in recent memory.

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