posted: 09-01-03

interview : tadah

photo: jessica miller
Please introduce yourself.
I am Omid Walizadeh, 28 year old hip hop producer and recording engineer from Los Angeles, CA. I am also known as 'OD,' but in the past 3 years, I have been going under my real name Omid.

  related links
· "Distant Drummer" review
· interview (01-13-2002)
Now, you have an album coming out on Mush called "Monolith". Tell us about the album.
It is 14 songs deep. It is half instrumental, half vocal cuts. The MCs are: Aceyalone, Buck 65, Abstract Rude, Hymnal, Busdriver, Slug of Atmosphere, Murs, PSC, Spoon of Iodine, and 2mex. I also have a live cello player, a live guitar player, and DJ Drez and DJ Tetris for cuts. Hymanl was featured on "Beneath The Surface" on the song "For Her Souly, Slowly, Solely," which is a very hypnotic cut that featured live violin. This song got a lot of good responses from Hip Hop fans that wanted to hear a new/different approach to hip hop. He is kind of doing a spoken word but in a mesmerizing yet west coast style flow. So I really dug his style and his visual lyrics, so I asked him to do two songs on "Monolith." The song "Club Apotheosis" is kind of like a part 2 to the song he did on "Beneath The Surface", except this time there is a live cello in the background. He also did the song on "Robert L. Ripley", which is more of a uptempo banger and he shows his more straight ahead style. I like Hymnal's originality and subtlety, and he studies philosophy, psychology, and literature, which shows in his lyrics.
I also have song on "Monolith" called "Live From Tokyo." 2 years ago I went to Japan for a show with Aceyalone, Living Legends and Atmosphere. I was DJing for 2mex. I brought a CD of some beats just in case there was any opportunity to do a song. The label who flew us out there had a couple of hours booked in a studio, so I dropped a beat off that CD, and PSC, Slug, Aceyalone and Murs wrote their rhymes on the spot and made the song. I think it came out dope so I decided to use it on the album.
I've been a fan of Buck 65 for a while and my homie DJ Signify is friends with him, so I asked him to introduce us. Buck turned out to be a nice guy and he was down to collaborate, so we did "Double Header" for my album. I've never met him in person, so all our communication was through email and mail, but the song came out great.
Spoon of Iodine is an O.G. rapper from Los Angeles. In the 1980's, he was in a group with Mikah 9 and Aceyalone called the MC Aces. He was also on the "Heavyweight Round 1" song on "Inner City Griots." "I'm Just A Bill" was a song he performed at the Goodlife in 1992, so we re-made the song for "Monolith."
The other MCs on the album are also great lyricists that I respect and am happy to work with.
What's the significance behind the name?
I was reading the book "2010" while making the album and it had the concept of an alien life force in the shape of a monolith come to earth and help humanity evolve. I thought it would be a great title and theme for the album.
In what mind state have you been when doing this album?
My last album "Distant Drummer" was a little too abstract for some people, so I toned down the experimentation of the drums and made them more like "Beneath The Surface." So the album is kind of like the a cross between the two albums.
What's the reaction been so far?
So far, everyone likes the album and says that it is diverse and well-rounded. I hope more people agree.
You got a very 'LA' sounds, somewhat mystical and Native South American too. How do you see that?
I like mystical sounds or sounds that strike chords in people and make them see things in a different light. Certain melodies and rhythms have powerful properties that move people and can create other worlds and feelings in their heads. Music can heal and also excite. I try to pick sounds that help do that, but in a hip hop context.
How do you see LA as a city?
L.A. has some parts that are beautiful and some parts that are dreadful. That shows in a lot of music form L.A.: there might be a beautiful style to a song, but the subject matter might be sad. Like the song "Robert L. Ripley" describes the L.A. scene as MC's who evolved beyond their environment and were able to create beautiful art with the raw materials and elements of their surroundings. So LA has beauty and ugliness, and music mixes them together as one.
How do you see hip hop in LA?
LA will have another big wave of attention poured toward it like it did in the early 90's. But this time the artists will be more established, organized, and more business minded to take advantage of exposure and opportunity.
What's your favorite place there?
My favorite places in LA are the beaches, because the pacific ocean is beautiful and is a symphony of sights, sounds, and textures of it's own.
How do you create an instrumental song and how a song for a rapper?
When making a song for a rapper, I recite their best verse in my head and make the beat around that. In an instrumental song, I make the sounds in the beat seem as they are rapping or make the beat so busy and lush that an MC wouldn't fit in.
How sample based are your beats?
90% of my music is sample based, but I tweek and rearrange and change the samples to my bidding. Just taking a note here and a drum hit there and creating a whole different arrangement. I love sampling though, because it's so fun and packed with adventure and surprises. You never know what you will find.
Is it beats or songs you do?
It starts as a beat but then turns into a song.
Do you find there to be a difference?
A song tells a story, a beat just makes your head nod.
How did you and Mush come together?
Mush heard "Beneath The Surface" and approached me in 2001 and we finally did an album together in 2003. I'm excited to work with them.
What's coming next?
I produced a whole album for Sach aka Nouka Bass Type of the Nonce called "Sach 5th Ave." The single is dropping in late summer and the album hopefully early fall. Me and Nobody are also producing an album for Ellay Khule, a Project Blowed MC. I am also working on a project for 2mex, and I will also do another album for Mush soon.
I told you how strange I found it was, to meet you, after being a fan for years. Does it strike you as strange at times too, when you know that your music is played around the globe?
It is a tremendous blessing and honor to have people like your music, especially in other countries. It makes me happy and makes all the hard work worth it. It is also humbling. That is why I work with rappers with positive messages, because music is powerful. It is also great to make friends like tadah of urbansmarts and learn from him about hip hop in his country and Europe. It is amazing to become friends with people through music.
Do you feel more Iranian or American?
I think myself as an Iranian American. I was born in the USA, but I also lived in Iran and I speak and write Farsi and love the culture and it's people. But I love American people and the land and art and music of America and the opportunities it provides.
Has America changed for Arabians since 911?
Since 911, most people have been open minded and thankfully not effected by ignorance that has been spread through America. Especially through the media that portray Middle Eastern as evil and bad. there are some ignorant people, but for the most part, it hasn't been that bad. I am glad that people like Michael Moore are creating awareness in the USA.
"Monolith" is in stores September 16th, 2003 on Mush Records.
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