Seen Dancing: My Week In Music (03/01 - 03/07)

By Odessa Oda

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This a series about music as I live it. I hope you enjoy my perspective and find some cool music at the same time.This is a conversation not a speech so please send me your thoughts and music you find interesting. I'm looking forward to hearing from you.

This week:

  • Not Afraid: The Shady Records Story
  • Kendrick Lamar Album Release Date
  • J. Cole "Be Free"
  • "Going On a LIon Hunt"
  • Yesterdays New Quintet
  • Funky Africans

There is not much we haven’t heard about the life of Marshall Mathers. He has been an open book about his story documenting it in music, interviews, and film. But the real genius of this music superstar is his ability to personally put everything on the table while keeping his "life" private. Think about it; what do we really know about Eminem?

Even when we find new things out about him it is always after the fact. We found out about his drug issues not from TMZ but from his music when he returned from a hiatus. Hailey is mentioned often, especially in his earlier work, but has been kept out the public eye only to surface as a high school senior. Hailey grew up with one of the most famous fathers in the word and still managed to grow up out of sight. I can't help but think these are not mistakes, they are by design.

The documentary “Not Afraid: The Shady Records Story” shows the making of the label that, like Hailey, we have heard about but has not been at the front of the Eminem narrative. And it is a pretty good look. 

Kendrick Lamar is hands down the most celebrated rapper of his generation. After  much critical acclaim and commercial success for his independently released Section 80 and  major label debut "good kid, m.A.A.d city" stakes are high for this Compton MC. Everyone is waiting to see what the "King of New York" will do next. This year we will find out.

His latest untitled album will be released on March 23rd. It features 16 tracks not including last year’s "i". In my circle this is one of the most anticipated albums this year. I'm interested to see if he takes it to the next level. A height definitely feel he definitely can reach. 


Album is titled "To Pimp A Butterfly"

While thousands are commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights March in Selma, Alabama known as  "Bloody Sunday"; I was reminded of what time it is. My cousin posted on Facebook about not knowing about Selma, because the schools he attended didn't teach about it. As shocking as this may sound to some, the worst part of his truth came later. A lot of the politicians and dignitaries in Selma aren't doing any to change the conditions we have today. I agree with him one hundred percent.

Ferguson didn't surprise me, I know racism still exist. What strikes me the most since the civil rights movement is how bad we treat ourselves. Urban music vividly documents this harsh reality. We have lost too many voices of love. Love for our relationships, love for our people, and most importantly love for ourselves.

So when artistry reflects the bigger truths of the times we live in; magic happens. Stripped down and highly emotional J Coles "Be Free" and his actions in the wake of Mike Brown killing show an artist who gets it. And because he does we have this gem. This is from his performance on The Late Show with David Letterman: 

My kids love this version of "Going on a Lion Hunt"; so I hear it over and over again. Most times listening to the songs my children enjoy is a huge test of patience. This song is different, I actually like it.

As a writer I appreciate what this chant offers to the toddler set. It tells a compelling story that draws its listeners in to the world they are creating. They accomplish this feat by knowing what their audience wants and framing the tale from that perspective. In other words they engage their audience as all great songs do.


I was at the barbershop vibing and talking about what I was listening to recently musically and I had to bring up Madlibs' Yesterdays New Quintet. I've been a fan since "Angles Without Edges" and love sharing this "band" with the uninitiated. This is song is from that first album that I enjoyed so much:

At the barbershop they were playing music from out of Africa. I'm not sure of the artist or their origin I will ask Derrick my barber next time I'm there. Anyway it reminded me of the funky music coming out of West Africa in the late 60's through the 70's and I just wanted to share some of the freshness that was coming out of the Motherland at that time.