As a member of Brooklyn rap collective Diggin' In The Crates, Omar Credle, aka O.C., helped shape what was known as the golden age of 1990s rap. Marked by loops sourced from jazz recordings and lyrics rooted in one-upmanship, O.C's two '90s albums, Word...Life and Jewelz established him as a rapper's rapper, an underground star.
O.C. was joined at his Tiny Desk by Soul'D U Out, a jazz ensemble led by Grammy-winning trumpeter Maurice "Mobetta" Brown. The live instrumentation replicated the sample-heavy original recordings perfectly. The crew kicked off the concert with "New Day," from O.C.'s 2017 album Same Moon Same Sun, which features young R&B singer Tay Bell on the hook.
The rest of the set was vintage cuts from O.C.'s heyday. "Day One," a D.I.T.C. posse cut, featured emcee and producer Lord Finesse, and the joy that poured forth during his verse belied its level of difficulty. (It reminded me that it'd been too long since I enjoyed a Lord Finesse album.) Then O.C. treated the crowd to a version of "Return of the Crooklyn Dodgers" (the one and only song by him, Jeru The Damaja and Chubb Rock). And of course, he had to fit in his seminal banger and arguably most popular song, "Time's Up," from Word...Life.
The finale got personal when O.C. relayed the importance of the song "Born 2 Live." "This is dedicated to a friend of mine who got killed down in Baltimore," he said. "Everytime I do this record, it's somber. ... But it's a celebration at the same time. So I'm a just party it out and have a good time with it." With a little help from Soul'D U Out, we did, too.
Omar "O.C." Credle (emcee), Robert "Lord Finesse" Hall (emcee), Maurice "Mobetta" Brown (trumpet), Chris Rob (keys/vocals), Marcus Machado (guitar), Parker McAllister (bass), Camau "Klutch" Bernstine (drums), Tay Bell (vocals)
Producers: Abby O'Neill, Morgan Noelle Smith; Creative Director: Bob Boilen; Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin; Videographers: Morgan Noelle Smith, Maia Stern, Beck Harlan, Dani Lyman; Production Assistants: Joshua Bote; Photo: Eslah Attar/NPR.