On a warm Thursday night Jazzkaar surprised us once again with a versatile and special act. Vaba Lava was taken over by Washington-based rapper and producer Odissee and his band, Good Compny. And good company they were indeed. One and a half hours full of smooth beats, catchy melodies, amazing vocals and mindful lyrics.
As soon as the band came on stage and performed After Thoughts, a dreamy instrumental, the room was filled with inexplicable calm and excitement at the same time. When Odissee himself finally took the stage, the energy really started flowing. It was clear that his charisma and the way he communicated with the crowd, made people feel free and encouraged them to really get into the music.
Growing up near Washington during the 90s, African American-Sudanese origin Amir Mohamed el Khalifa, aka Odissee, cites Erik B. & Rakim, De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest as his influences, mostly because they didn’t rap about drugs and murder so he felt that he could relate to their lyrics. He has also said that he was inspired by his parents’ heritage and hip hop influences from his older cousins.
During the performance at Vaba Lava, one could really sense his influences, as Odissee took us on a journey through his life and thoughts. In You Grew Up, he rapped about his childhood, in Strength & Weakness he gave us slow rhythms and thoughtful lyrics about accepting one’s flaws, then again faster beats in Want To Be where he points out some pressing social issues. In the upbeat and cheerful That’s Love, he got the crowd singing along at the top of their lungs.
But the band was definitely the icing on the cake. Each one of them was so passionate about the instrument that they were playing and watching them play was just mesmerizing. They were enjoying making music together and seemed to be having so much fun that it felt more like a casual jam session than a public concert. Guitarist Olivier St. Louis and keyboard player Ralph Washington also added a touch of soul to the songs with their smooth vocals. During a couple of songs, Washington and MPC player Richard Patterson came forward to perform their incredible rap solos, which made the crowd go even crazier and for a second it really felt that we were all in a rap club somewhere in Washington.
Odissee & The Good Compny created a phenomenal atmosphere filled with positive energy and good vibes that night. They proved that contrary to stereotype, an Estonian crowd can be energetic, fun and equipped with some bold dance moves. Odissee brought his culture and stories to Jazzkaar and made us part of it, being definitely one of the standouts at this year’s festival. Thanks for the good company, guys, and till next time!
Odissee & Good Compny 25 April at Vaba Lava
Amir Mohamed – rap, vocal
Olivier St. Louis – guitar, vocal
Dennis Turner – bass
Ralph Washington – keyboard, synths, vocal
Richard Patterson – MPC, electronics
Jon Laine – drums, vocal
Check out photos from the concert here