Bronx rapper Ooggz has been completely self-funded to date, releasing his debut EP, Welcome to Neptune on his own dime last month. While Ooggz is seen as part of New York’s indie rap scene, Welcome to Neptune is perhaps more classic than many listeners might realize, with simplistic lyrics and beats which comprise a history lesson of hip hop. His production values are one hundred percent modern, however, and he prides himself on the quality and composition of his tracks. Ooggz’s world is one of old school style and modern techniques, which apparently come from Neptune.
It is unclear whether Ooggz’s lyrical patterns are simple on purpose. Welcome to Neptune certainly is not lacking for well-thought out production and interesting beats, and the content of Ooggz’s lyrics is definitely thought-provoking. The first single from the album, Come on Down, begins with a spoken word verse which is very intelligent and philosophical, for example. Given these other factors, it is more likely that Ooggz’s on-beat delivery and rhyming stanzas are a deliberate throwback to the origins of rap in hip hop. The rhythmic quality of Ooggz’s verse may remind audiences of Easy-E or Rakim, but his vocal quality is much more smoothed out and sounds more like some of the indie rap artists of the late 90s like Common or Slum Village.
The production on Welcome to Neptune may be one reason for Ooggz’s old school-style lyrics, as he couches them in very modern beats and backing tracks. The juxtaposition of these two elements creates an interesting contrast and forces the audience to listen to the lyrics and the music with an equal level of attention while also taking the track in as a whole. For Welcome to Neptune, he has brought in some innovative producers such as Cash Jordan and Primestars to help create this interplay between lyrics, music and beats.
Welcome to Neptune’s opening track, Get Em was produced by Jeremy Rocwell, an elusive artist who also does graphic design and video production. This is easily the most unconventional backing track on Welcome to Neptune, flipping even alternative hip hop on its ear with a fairly simple beat structure but a very syncopated and almost jazz fusion melody sample. Ooggz adds a Dirty South-style hook to the lyrics and along with the catchy beat, Get Em is very radio-ready despite the unconventional production and heavy subject matter.
Come on Down is also radio-friendly, featuring singer Ayanna Williams and produced by Cash Jordan. This track sounds like a sensual R&B tune from the 90s, but Ooggz’s rhymes and Williams’ vocals once again create a deeper picture of the yin and yang of people who can hurt each other and those who can heal those hurts. All the tracks on the album, in fact, seem to have this common theme of hefty subject matter in the lyrics and some of hip hop history’s best in the rhymes, beats, and hooks.
To be sure, there is quite a lot going on in Ooggz’s debut album. Welcome to Neptune blends old school techniques with 90s rhythms and experimental melodies to create something unique yet familiar. For lack of a better term, the album has a sort of fusion style. What really sets him apart are his poetic and well-written lyrics, and they seem to be the most important element of this world he has created, whether it be on Neptune or in the hearts and minds of his fans. While catchy hip hop tunes are the delivery system, the message he is trying to convey seems to be Ooggz’s ultimate goal. Welcome to Neptune is available to stream or for a limited download on his Soundcloud page, listed below.
Review by Layla Klamt
Soundcloud.com (Welcome to Neptune)
Musician bio provided by Independent Music Promotions