Live Review: Oddisee, Sampa The Great, Ali The Great

1 December 2015 | 1:20 pm | Tom Hersey

"Sometimes during the set, the hyper-articulate motor mouth seems like he's just showing off."

It's too goddamned hot outside, way too hot. Thankfully though, the Woolly Mammoth has their air conditioners pumping and one of the coolest rappers on the indie scene is here to play cuts from his acclaimed record, The Good Fight. Adopted local Ali The Great opens the show and draws a raft of cheers as he serves up cuts from his 2015 EP Earth. The beats are sounding excellent out of the Mane Stage's PA and the mood is good.

The profile of Sampa The Great has been growing for a while now, and you can tell why the moment she hits the mic. Dipping from rap into neo-soul (there's even a Hiatus Kaiyote remix tossed into the set for good measure), Sampa is adept in getting the crowd moving. As she switches back and forth between styles the crowd is more than happy to let her dictate how they're going to move. Whether it's a slow jam met with a shuffle and appreciative head nods or a banger that gets hands in the air, the MC stretches the crowd out nicely for tonight's main event.

Oddisee makes a point of telling the crowd tonight that this is the 67th date of a 70-odd date world tour in support of The Good Fight. So where's the fatigue? The bags under his eyes? The creeping sense that he'd just rather be at home? Tonight Oddisee is fresh-faced enough to make it seem like it's only the third or fourth date on his mammoth tour. But you understand how long he's been out on the road in the polish you can witness in his set. Oddisee gets the crowd moving with some of his older, harder cuts like the title track from his Tangible Dream record before switching it up and singing his way through The Good Fight hit That's Love.

Maybe it's just because you can see the veins on Oddisee's neck bulging out like a thin goiter, but you can feel the passion the MC has injected into his conscious raps. As he tirelessly bounds across the stage, he draws the crowd's attention like a master showman. But amid all the preening and dancing, Oddisee sounds crystal clear and articulate. The speed and clarity with which he hits his rhymes makes it sound like you could be listening to the record, but over a really good PA. Sometimes during the set, the hyper-articulate motor mouth seems like he's just showing off, like when he breaks down his tour itinerary to sound like a Gil Scott-Heron poem, but no one in the crowd is put off by the braggadocio. They're just cheering for every new song Oddisee offers up.

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