Not your typical rapper


When you delve into the background of a rapper, an affluent Washington upbringing and reluctance to share opinions may not be what you’d expect.

But then, Oddisee’s not your typical rapper.

The 33-year-old, whose real name is Amir Mohamed el Khalifa, plays Yonder tonight.

Since releasing his latest album, The Iceberg, in 2017, Oddisee and his band Good Compny have played more than 150 shows worldwide, scoring rave reviews along the way.

He says his upbringing’s had a big impact on his music, with his father hailing from northern Sudan and his mother being African-American.

“I had a multi-cultural household,” he says.

“I didn’t consciously do it, but I think I subconsciously pulled from a lot of that.”

He blends a lot of elements together to create his unique style of music, from hip-hop and soul, to funk, jazz, and Sudanese music.

He also cites artists like Marvin Gaye, Bob Marley, and A Tribe Called Quest as major influences.

“It reflects life, and humanity in general,” he says of his work.

“It’s a testament to my upbringing.”

But unlike many current rap stars who draw lyrical inspiration from issues such as politics, race, and violence, Oddisee says he tries to keep his views out of his music.

“It’s usually posing a question without putting my own opinion in it.”

Also unlike most of his compatriots, he’s not keen on building up his image on social media.

In a blog post on his website, he says “perfection is a narrative that is currently pushed through social media”.

“The real amount of work is often overlooked and marginalised. ”

When asked about the comments, he says being transparent seems to be important to his fans.

“I just want to be myself.”

This year’s been a big one in terms of touring for Oddisee, whose run of four NZ shows are his last international gigs before ending the year with a hometown show in Washington.

When asked what keeps him touring, there’s no mucking around – “being booked”, he says.

“I go where I’m booked.

“If people from New Zealand want to see me, then that’s where I’ll go.”

To catch Oddisee, head to Yonder, tonight, 8pm, $15