Oh No, birth name Michael Jackson, is always going to have the weight of genetic expectations on his shoulders. That’s just what being the sibling of a guy like Madlib entails. Given that, it should be easy to admire how confidently Oh No’s established his own niches within a similar market. While his earlier instrumental projects earned praise in the usual Stones Throw-worshipping circles, until 2010 audiences could probably have been forgiven if they wrote Oh No off as a fairly typical west coast cat with that killer Jackson family ear for samples carrying him along. But the Gangrene project brought a renewed focus to Oh No’s style and output—a producer and sometime rapper who’d seemed in search of a group to call home since the Kali Wild days, his teaming with kindred spirit the Alchemist finds its influences all throughout Oh No’s output these days.
Disrupted ADS (Audio Dispensary System) is essentially the sort of hip-hop producer solo project one learns to approach with measured dread: half beats, half rolodex—the sort of album that drops seventeen tracks into a box and doesn’t really fret over which ones listeners would like to take out and play with. Disrupted ADS has a few things going for it that most of these sorts of albums don’t, however, traits that can help with the initial feelings of bewilderment that often come with these projects. Formatted like a schizophrenic trip through Oh No’s inner-radio broadcast. I just mentioned he’s brought seventeen cuts to the table here, but the album’s barely a half hour. This briskness gives the album a decidedly punk feel, something that’s aided by Oh No’s now-familiar obsession with all things blacksploitation, psychotropic and ironic.
However, that doesn’t mean Disrupted ADS is interested in pushing the formula too hard. You’ll hear the usual prog-rock guitar loops, ‘60s instructional video samples, and middling sorts of shrugged-shoulder style verses these projects are typically good for. Especially given the intensely insular feature list—notoriously unpredictable Blu may carry the highest profile—there’s not much to the rap tracks that make them the value buy here. Where Oh No should get a lot of credit, however, is the way he brings these tracks in and out of the instrumental ledes, creating an atmosphere that feels almost as if it were made on a pair of turntables. There’s an energy to the way this album moves that a lot of these sorts of projects just can’t seem to harness; Disrupted ADS can often feel like Oh No is spinning records for his own private party somewhere just off screen.
It’s this personable, “live” sort of energy that helps make Disrupted ADS a memorably fun listen rather than just forgettably well done. There’s a playfulness to much of what goes on: Oh No, Tristate and MidaZ finding a middle ground between Dipset, Wu-Tang and Monsta Island Czars; Psalm One’s huge smirk of a verse on “Same Shit”; the war time synth battles that rage before and after it on “Wet ‘Em Up” and “Boom”; “Drifters”’ dedication to the sounds of a James Bond sexual encounter; or just the way Oh No figures out how to anchor an album littered with empty threats and big boom bap with Georgia Anne Muldrow and Dudley Perkins’ signature brand of positivism. Disrupted ADS makes the smart move of keeping the listener on their toes through the music and the movement rather than the number of names it can fit on an insert or blogger jpeg. In the process, Oh No remains as dependable as ever with a high flavor, low calorie affair that makes a great snack for instrumental and rhyme heads alike.
// Notes from the Road
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