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Name: Adam Bernard
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Artist Of The Week - Oddy Gato
Monday, March 01, 2010

Most emcees like to brag, but not Albany’s Oddy Gato. “Hip-hop is not just a guy grabbing a mic and saying I'm the best, I’m the best,” he explains, “it’s about other people saying ‘this motherfucker is really good.’” Over the years quite a few people have been saying Oddy Gato is really good. His goal, which he says should be the goal of every artist, is to make listeners question what is going on. “A real artist’s job is to step outside the norms of society, of the dominant culture, to challenge everything, and to challenge people to see things in a different light.” Living by that ideology it should come as no surprise that Oddy Gato once performed with Immortal Technique at a Free Mumia concert in Philadelphia. He also recorded in J-Live’s home studio with both J-Live and Rashawn Ross, a trumpeter and arranger who tours with Dave Matthews Band.

Backed by producer Lo-Fi LOBO and DJ TRUMASTR, Oddy Gato is extremely pleased with the work he and his team are creating, even going as far as saying “if anybody has a problem with the music that we’re making, not only am I nice with the microphone, I have the hand sills of a vicious puma.” This week I risked the possibility of incurring the wrath of Oddy Gato when I caught up with him to ask him about his music, why he feels it’s better to be odd, and the reasons why he loves calling Albany home.

Adam Bernard: Start me off with a little history. Who is Oddy Gato? Where are you from and what made you the man and the artist that you are today?
Oddy Gato: Oddy Gato is my alter ago. I’m a living encyclopedia of hip-hop culture, connoisseur of fine cannabis, born and raised in the Southeast section of The Bronx. That made me aware of the world. Brim and Tat Crew was king. Crack explosion, police raid the weed spot, dreadlock Rasta handcuffed to the Pac-Man machine. That’s my worldview. People blasting the boombox right there on the corner, people just straight up breakdancing. My uncle was a DJ. He was spinning hip-hop in the house, along with dance music and funk, and it just had an incredible effect on me. I would hear Slick Rick inside the car. My stepdad was on a mission to make me and the whole family go deaf before I hit ten years old. He used to play that shit as loud as he could. You couldn’t escape it, so hip-hop is in me.

Adam Bernard: As someone who knows a little bit of Japanese, I know “arigato” means “thank you.” Is that part of the reason you’re Oddy Gato, or is there a completely different meaning behind your name?
Oddy Gato: I was trying to go for a name like Daddy Yankee, but he got it before I did. Just kidding. Oddy Gato’s first words into the world were thank you. He said them to his mother, and that’s what it means in Japanese. People would always say I was a strange cat, so I took the arigato thing and flipped it as a double entendre.

Adam Bernard: Why is it better to be odd?
Oddy Gato: It’s better to be odd because I don’t like boring ass people. They coulda put me in all kinda smarty ass schools and I coudla been a doctor or a lawyer, but I said fuck that. They used to call me the oddball, that was way back. Strange cat. Crazy bastard. Crazy Ralph. I never really tried to be different, I just am.

Adam Bernard: Last year you released an album titled Oddzilla. Other than simply “you,” what were you looking to showcase on Oddzilla?
Oddy Gato: There’s a lot of comedy, a lot of war stories, and just the art of storytelling and really being real to how we speak. That’s how we talk, it’s just crazy, wild, and it’s so rich and exciting. I felt like I had to record it and let other people know. I’ve been up here (in Albany) for the better part of a decade and I hadn’t heard anyone sound like what I want to hear, so I said let me just record myself and see what it sounds like it. The next thing you know we’re riding around in limousines with clubs in the back of them.

Adam Bernard: On the album you seem to have equal parts fun and importance. How difficult is it to maintain that balance and not slip into just one mode of thinking/rapping when you’re writing?
Oddy Gato: I like all different kinds of writing. I like comedy, horror, suspense, drama, fiction, documentaries, I like all these different forms of mediums as far as telling stories and I definitely want to express that. Life is serious, and then life is funny. Just like how life is and how people are, all these different kinds of ways, I want to express that through the music so it never becomes stale or redundant. I’m just trying to spice it up. There are too many boring people. To really go across the galaxy of emotions and really experience everything you gotta go out on a limb and people might say “oh he’s not hardcore! He’s not gangster enough!” and little do they know I’m one of the few people that can actually say they’ve had an all out UFC competition fight in a fucking public library. I’m nice with the skills, (but when it comes to the music) Dres from Black Sheep broke it down. He was like, I used to sell drugs, but do you hear me rappin about it in my songs? No. What the fuck does one thing have to do with the other? Be fucking creative, man.

Adam Bernard: Speaking of creativity, there are a million rappers in the game, or at least it sometimes feels that way, so how do you deal with this emcee overcrowding?
Oddy Gato: I don’t really care about all that. That shit don’t faze me. A lot of these wack dudes are just making me look better and better every day. For every one good rapper you got about, what is it, 500 wack ones? But who am I to piss on someone else’s dream? I just try to raise the standard of what is acceptable from these million and one rappers hoping that they will say yeah, we can’t just be making bubblegum music no more. I challenge the status quo. We make classical masterpieces come alive from out the hood, from the industrial waste, sludge and toxic runoff that runs into the river. We sift through it and we find the gold. That’s what we’re bringing to the earholes of Americans and people world wide. We’re straight butter from the gutter.

Adam Bernard: “Straight butter from the gutter.” Love that line! Now, before I let you go, I have to know, how do you connect with other artists when you’re in a spot that isn’t exactly near a major scene?
Oddy Gato: I’m usually in New York City, Philadelphia, DC, Miami, San Juan, I’m always on the East Coast for the most part. On any given Sunday you’ll find me in any of them cities, but I always keep coming back because of the thriving music and arts scene that’s slept on here in Albany, New York. A lot of my friends happen to be artists in music and in the visual arts and I’m proud to be residing here at this time. It keeps me coming back to the home of Mohican, and of bootlegging and Legs Diamond and all kinds of other underworld celebrities.

Related Links

MySpace: myspace.com/oddygato
BeatShotMusic: beatshotmusic.com


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:25 AM  
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