UnderSong Underground: Onry Ozzborn

Sadie Walton profiles the biggest and best underground hip hop artists of the moment. This week: Onry Ozzborn.

Genre: Hip Hop / Rap Fusion
Label: Fake Four
Upcoming Projects: Dark Time Sunshine (collaboration with Zavala)

Onry Ozzborn is not part of D12. Neither is he overtly beefy, a wearer of shiny medallions, nor, indeed, is he black. You would however be very mistaken for thinking that he was all of the above upon hearing 'Home Sweet Home' off the rather gangsta No Hoax record, popularised not only by his label, Fake Four, but also by the somewhat better known Strange Famous Records. Onry Ozzborn is in fact a soulful, intelligent, unpolished – and not unattractive - white guy.

Whatever you do, do not write him off as just another white rapper. Doing so will mean you will then miss out on one of the freshest flavours to come out of Seattle since Starbucks.

Bold statement, I hear you cry. How can you justify this?

This is how.

Onry (AKA Martin Martinez) has a way of rapping which makes you forget yourself and get lost in the lyrics. His gravelly, husky tones are pure Marlboro Detroit Americana, but he blends this effortlessly with trip hop and spacey goth suspense, drum and bass electronic jazz fusion, and tops it off with slick production by a host of innovative and fresh producing talents, including Zavala (his cohort in Dark Time Sunshine). This makes for a unique, ear catching package that makes you sit up, pay attention, and just plain listen.

His full length solo album, Hold On For Dear Life (Fake Four, 2010) is an aural feast. Like any feasts, there are some bits you want to consume again and again, ratcheting the volume up until your senses are filled with the beauty and majesty of the beat, (a la the sensual Way Out). There is a little amuse bouche between courses, a feature of many rap albums, but utterly concise and succinct. There is the hip poppy crowd pleaser in 'Daughters', and the sci-fi, unsettling 'I Give Up'. The album overall however, provides more than ample nutrition for whoever is listening to it, be you fans of hip hop, rap, emo, electronica or any fusions of the previously stated.

The real genius of Onry however lies in his fearless ability to adapt, which clearly is a major part of his success. He can do straight up gangsta rap alongside an orthodox hip hop beat (Michael Admires You and The O O rival anything I have heard on a Tupac album), then move effortlessly to the lighthearted, pop hop parodic iPhone lament of 'Electric Dreams'. He can do raw and passionate ('Blend In'), angst ridden and emotional ('Why') and West Coast G-funk ('Not Allowed'), and each track he lays down is just as slick and credible as the last.

In short, this guy is the embodiment of 21st century hip hop – experimental, honest, raw - and not afraid to show it.

Recommendations:

Head to www.fakefourinc.com and follow the links to download No Hoax Parts 1-4 for an introduction to The OO.

Stand Out Tracks:

Way Out Ft Maggie Morrison - Hold On For Dear Life (Fake Four, 2010)
Execution Day - No Hoax Part 3 (Fake Four, 2010)
Hold On For Dear Life - Hold On For Dear Life (Fake Four 2010)

Like This? Try This:

Prolyphic.