[Fat Beats / Kash Roc, 2013]
Jeff Pearson, February 07, 2013
Listen: “Rollin’ Up (Feat. Gangrene)”
Even by today’s hip-hop standards–with artists steadily streaming in mixtape after mixtape, filling their YouTube accounts with new tracks–Oh No is an incredibly prolific artist. The dude is working at, like, a four-album a year rate, and Disrupted Ads comes as the first in what he has said will be a “big” 2013. He treats each project he tackles with a different amount–or let’s say style–of care; each record in his extensive discography is gelled together by a cohesive concept, from bringing hip-hop to the Horn Of Africa on 2009’s Dr. No’s Ethiopium to playing the role of mad scientist in the beat lab for his Gangrene records with Alchemist. The underlying theme amongst all of his records, however, is his uncanny attention to both detail and immediacy. Oh No takes pride in the fact that his beats are both head-noddingly intoxicating and bona fide ear candy for those looking for something unique and off-the-wall.
Disrupted Ads is centered around spliced samples of old cigarette advertisements, which Oh No masterfully pieces together to act as interludes to the persistently banging tracks. He leaves the samples laden with ambiguity, however; when clips like, “What a pleasure it is to smoke a mild, good tasting–” are cut off by and paired with the bombastic bounce of tracks like “Jones’s,” the record is given a context of a public service announcement for marijuana that even Don Draper couldn’t pitch so well. It shouldn’t come as a surprise, really. Oh No, born Michael Jackson, and his brother Madlib have been at the forefront of bending the limits of the weed-addled mind of the listener. What is particularly great about Disrupted Ads is that it is a further step from Oh No out of his big brother’s shadow; no longer are their paths running directly parallel, as this is yet another tremendous stride in his own forged direction.
Part of Oh No’s singular path is his particular set of friends that he employs to be featured on his records. Disrupted Ads is largely an instrumental showcase, but guests like Rapsody, Alchemist, Chali 2na, Blu, MED, and Souls Of Mischief color the project with their distinctive styles, while staying true to Oh No’s vision of frenetic insanity. Though he has come into his own over the years as a true double threat in his quality production game and equally stunning work on the microphone, Disrupted Ads is largely Oh No in the role of ringleader, letting his friends do the talking. The revolving door of emcees shows how quickly things shift in the world of Jackson’s music, but also in unifying them as a singular artistic statement, the universality of hip-hop music within their lives comes to light.
“Jones’s” starts the party off right, with Blu and MED using the brief track to do a little lyrical posturing over the twinkling video game-lifted beat. The thing is, though, Oh No is not one to just opt for banality, or employ those that are–even in something so oft-treaded as self-gratiating verses in hip-hop. Blu cleverly plays with words with ease, telling the listener in a lo-fi haze, “Millionaire, brick club brilliance if you didn’t notice / Sippin’ loaders, getting open after motion / With the flow coastin’ like the heart ocean / Roller coastin’, super Cali–dope shit.” Most of the performers on Disrupted Ads take a similar, somewhat lighthearted approach to the project, keeping an air of levity in a genre so often marred with over-seriousness.
This isn’t to say that Jackson doesn’t take his music seriously. Quite the opposite is true, in fact–as if the sheer volume which he releases isn’t indication enough. Tracks like “Same Shit” and “Controlled Riots” march forward in a militant, almost angry fashion that shows the tenacity with which Oh No approaches his tracks. It’s just that for every dark, plodding beat that Disrupted Ads yields, there is an “Improvement” or “Punchdrunkpatterns” to balance the mood out a bit. It will be interesting to see where Oh No goes from here; there is a looming feeling on the record that this is merely a taste of something bigger–perhaps it is the somewhat cartoonish world of advertising that he has created for it, or the ever-changing narrator throughout. This is Oh No basically messing around, really, and Oh No messing around is still some of the highest quality hip-hop you can get.