He apparently calls himself a DIY artist and says that he does things without taking into consideration what others judge as good or bad. Little wonder then that rapper Oswald’s songs are so different from the offerings of mainstream hip hop and rap. In his debut EP, Ride, the young artist stands head-to-head with hip hop music’s status quo, reflecting on the state that industry is in. Oswald manages to do something I have not yet seen before: he managed to do so in an album that does not fill the listener with anger or despair.
The five tracks on this collection are divided in three sections: two high intensity hip hop/rap/pop songs, one short acoustic bridge, and two more of the former. The opening electronic-inspired notes of “Kid”, a song about experiencing life with one’s heart on one’s sleeve, create a distinct melody that comes and goes throughout the track, weaving in and out the other elements of the song: Oswald’s seasoned-sounding rap and Mico Ariola’s delicate vocals. The following track, despite its title and theme, is just as fresh and inspiring. “Sea Full of Sharks” features Canadian singer Hannah Georgas. It also features the interweaving of very different elements which, together, discuss the state of the music scene. The song is, for the most part, an optimistic one reflecting a hope that things will change. That’s why I found Oswald’s use of some insults typical to the scene a sharp contrast with the feel of his message, this song, and even of the entire EP.
The short bridge, “Figure You Out”, is a simple combination of acoustic guitar and rap. The break is short as the last two songs feature the return of the same elements as the first two. “Home” features an element of nostalgia, while the somewhat anthemic closing track “Alive” brings back electronic music vibe with the use of a synth melody throughout.
Oswald’s offering is refreshingly different from what is currently available in mainstream hip hop music. Hopefully the relative negativity in “Sea Full of Sharks” will not invade his other musical endeavours.
The album can be preordered on Bandcamp.