Oldominion – One (2001)
Self-proclaimed pioneers of the “Northwest Sound,” Oldominion is a collective of mcs, artists and producers based in Seattle and Portland. One, released in 2001, is their first album and features appearances from 16 of their members. Although such efforts often lack thematic clarity, One‘s beats are similar enough to ensure it remains musically consistent throughout. Indeed, most of the album’s beats are mid-tempo and based on dark, moody orchestral samples (think minor key string and piano loops) backed by competently programmed drums. Fortunately, this allows One to serve as a showcase for the Oldominion crew’s talented mcs, who shift effortlessly between numerous, disparate topics over the course of the album. Articulate and complex, a single song might include references to Star Trek, politics, violence, existentialism, religion and video games. Lyrically, One thus occupies a unique space, adhering neither to the standard conventions of backpacker rap nor succumbing to the nihilistic, gangsta posturing of hardcore hip-hop. Even better, each mc comes correct on the mic, adjusting his or her flow perfectly to complement whatever beat he or she happens to be rapping over. Highly recommended for anyone who enjoys compelling lyrics and solid beats.