It’s rare to have a lifelong infatuation. Not to just like or love something, but to be completely consumed by it; to tailor your life around that passion. A combination of external and internal factors can prohibit one’s pursuit of that infatuation—whether something appears unrealistic, too eccentric, too difficult, there are endless barriers deviating that desire. Not succumbing to these preventative influences is special; it’s a rarity. One of Chicago’s brightest producers, oddCouple, is special; his talent is a rarity.
Not to be confused with the famous 1965 play, or its bizarre modern-day Matthew Perry adaptation, oddCouple is providing Chicago’s vibrant pulse. From working with some of today’s most promising artists, like Joey Purp and Kweku Collins, to revolutionaries like Chance The Rapper, and even the Windy City legend, GLC the ism, oddCouple’s soulful impact is felt throughout the city and music world. Objectively, it’s humbling to see someone coact with such diverse talent. For the 27-year old producer, it’s all just apart of the plan.
The future’s uncertainty can be crippling. Traversing through life with no insight into your destination is daunting; it’s terrifying. But for those select individuals, those lucky few, their ambitions are as vivid as most of ours are murky. They’ve always seen the path. Even if the endpoint’s ambiguity litters the journey, they know they’re walking towards something. They’re walking towards their destinies.
Whether it was overt or not, oddCouple always knew to some extent that music was his purpose. Despite obliging his parents’ wish for him to receive an education, school was just a distant plan B to his musical plan A. His allegiance never faltered; it strengthened with age.
oddCouple began producing at just 14-years old—FL Studios and online tutorials hosted by his Dell computer provided his early education. However, his musical expedition extends past archaic technology into his everyday surroundings. Weekly Church sermons, musically inclined parents, playing the upright bass and listening to greats like Jay Z, Kanye, Just Blaze and Timbaland informed oddCouple’s vision and versatile aesthetic; life has been his biggest teacher. He is forever indebted to that professor.
Talking with him, you can hear his sincere appreciation for music’s beauty and application; its serenity and expressiveness always resonated with him, and served as his outlet. We all need that outlet when dealing with tragedy. For oddCouple, the power of that coping mechanism fully revealed itself with the untimely passing of his beloved father—the man who he jammed with; who instilled that musical passion. The ultimate manifestation of this escape materialized as Kanye West’s The College Dropout.
It was a groundbreaking piece of work. In a Hip Hop age where heavy drums and hardened tales dominated, Kanye West challenged this trajectory by injecting his soulful samples and clever characters (we all remember Lil Jimmy), effectively reshaping our Rap understanding. Kanye’s unapologetic lyrics guided oddCouple through his most trying time by encouraging him to be true to himself, regardless of the public’s perception. Ye’s message of “this is me, take it or leave it” was comforting. It mirrored oddCouple’s notion of feeling too Black for the White kids and too White for the Blacks (similar feelings shared by Earl Sweatshirt on “Chum”); being a circle trying to fit into a square. But perhaps the greatest gift The College Dropout gave oddCouple was the mold for his sound.
His newest project, Liberation (officially released 11/11 through his label Closed Sessions), perfectly represents oddCouple’s artistry: varying composition combined to create a cohesive entity. This nine-track project enlists a medley of soulful sounds to convey the album’s jazzy heart. Horns, rhythmic drums, keys, experimental acoustics and trippy vibes dominate and highlight his diverse influences—a strong example of Chicago’s musical command. As great as it sounds (and believe me, it’s great), I thought the most intriguing aspect was oddCouple’s explanation behind the title, revealing his complexly deep mind.
For a little while, he felt incomplete. His father’s loss unfortunately gave him abandonment issues that he suppressed until their crushing weight forced a self-confrontation. After deep introspection, oddCouple realized that every facet of his life converges to form his identity—the sum of the parts outweigh the individual traits. He accepted those demons and used them to fuel his fire. He’s never looked back; he’s finally liberated.
The message of Liberation is emphasized by the album’s featured artists. A wide range of musicians populate the track listing: Joey Purp, Kweku Collins, Kelechi, Jamilia Woods, GLC and Mick Jenkins, to name some. Every Liberation recording session featured an open dialogue between oddCouple and the respective emcee, detailing his grand aspirations for the track, which informed the artist’s 16s. While compiling this project presented challenges, oddCouple had an incredible time working with his best friends. Here’s a telling factor of him channeling his inner Kanye: he doesn’t care if the artist has 2,000 Twitter followers or 200,000; he just wants to make great music with people he genuinely cares about. Joey and Kweku are like his little brothers; he has the utmost respect for Jamila’s beautiful voice; and GLC? Well, GLC is the ism.
In 2004, GLC helped Kanye formulate one of his most iconic tracks: “Spaceship.” This hit aided Kanye’s musical ascendance, and was also featured on the same project that helped oddCouple cope with his father’s death: The College Dropout. I asked him what it meant to collaborate with one of the guiding lights in his darkest time, to which he chuckled and simply said, “Man, it’s crazy.” Life has a funny way of coming full-circle.
Another shining star across Chicago’s talented sky, oddCouple’s encompassing sound and undying passion position him for success. His disallowance of external factors to interfere with his vision has encouraged him to stay the course, and it’s paying dividends. Whether he’s touring overseas with Kweku or architecting a beat for Chance, music consumes him and is buried in his DNA. It’s his therapy; it’s his outlet; it’s his path. We’re just lucky that he had the confidence to walk it.