Ohmega Watts

Watts Happening

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Ohmega Watts, the Seattle-by-way-of-Florida-by-way-of-Queens producer/MC, shows off his formidable skills on his second full-length, Watts Happening, an album as equally concerned, if not more so, with his beat-making as it is with his rhymes. As it stands, this isn't a bad move, as Watts, though able and sure behind the mic, is much more interesting behind the boards and synths. While his words traverse the typical backpacker fare -- societal and political problems, relationships, his love of hip-hop -- the tracks he lays down show off a much more complex artist with a diverse array of influences. Besides the straightforward MPC-plus-sample-oriented (but well done) numbers like "What It's Worth," "Eyes & Ears," and "Triple Double," Watts explores bossa nova ("Adaptico" and "Saywhayusay"), neo-soul ("Work for Wealth"), and variations of funk ("Freak Out," "Are You Satisfied," and "The Platypus Strut"), and does a good job with each of them, displaying his own, more modern take on things (his heavy use of synths, for example) within the malleable confines of the others he clearly loves. And he has a brightness, a warmth to his music that manages to be attractive and compelling without being cheesy or trite. Even his lyrics, while they sometimes slip into the cliché (like in the unfortunate but well-intentioned closer, "Gone with the Wind"), are able to express his feelings and ideas in a relatable but not-always-predictable way. "Found," for example, the requisite born-again track (although Watts, a Christian, avoided most conspicuously religious statements in his debut, The Find, he addresses his beliefs more frankly here) doesn't try to preach or convert but rather describe and explain his transition, and "Model Citizen" ("What if you could just be a kid again and waste the day/Never worry about life or tooth decay," he rhymes) discusses the state of radio, the music industry, and the life of a contemporary child without complaining angrily or bitterly. Because Ohmega Watts isn't an angry or bitter man, and this is evident in his music, it makes Watts Happening just as intelligent, well-crafted, and interesting as its creator. [The album also comes with a bonus disc, comprised solely of the instrumental versions of his songs, a must-have for fans of Watts' production.]

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