oddCouple's 'Liberation' Marks Musical Step Forward For Both the Producer & Featured Artists
scroll over highlighted names to hear featured artist's favorite parts of Liberation
oddCouple is the DJ and producer who began as two and has grown into one sustainable entity. The assumed pseudonym of Zach Henderson, Chicago musician and Milwaukee native, was initially bestowed upon him and his old music partner when the pair were a group: oddCouple. Years removed from that departure, the name has also come to represent how Henderson creates beats, adding little bit of this and a that along the way to crafting recipes that have kept him eating. In assembling these Frankenstein tunes he’s also made sure that the name he chose for himself is recognized by the general public. The last few years have seen him work with some of the biggest names in Chicago, eventually landing him a spot on Closed Sessions roster as one of the independent label's first signings. Last week, he released his sophomore solo full-length, Liberation, which has proved to be a demonstration of how the open-minded beatmaker is able to take sounds of every variety, creating in turn a catalogue that’s at once collaborative as it is unique.
Liberation is an eclectic, yet cohesive music landscape for some of Chicago’s best and most impressive singers and rappers to glide over. Featuring Mike Golden, Kweku Collins, Qari, Rich Jones, Joey Purp, Mick Jenkins, Jamila Woods, GLC, Kipp Stone, WebsterX and more, the diversity of features makes every Liberation track that much more impressive, because he’s tailored every song to its guest, an album full of singles that just so happen to be from all different artists. Understanding of music on another plane, oddCouple has an uncanny ability to identify just what makes an artist stand out and then zoom in.
And it’s still all oddCouple, impressively walking the line of embracing his feature's vibes without ever losing his. His aesthetic is hard to pin down, probably deliberately, unburdened by subgenre and more likely guided by an internal logic or philosophy that’s directing his songwriting. The samples are diverse full of detail, he’s not afraid to use space. It’s the full spectrum of emotions, and the reason oddCouple stands out as a producer. Sincere, cinematic, and a little old-school, there’s a focus on instrumentals, but they’ll be sitting next to one of the strangest warping synths you’ll hear in a rap beat (“Crazy Games”). It’s a little bit of everything. It’s larger than life. It’s odd, and natural.
Collaboration is the process, and the central concept lies in the title, Liberation. Every artist featured has been a 2016 breakthrough, unproven as the year began, now established as the year wraps, free from skepticism. It’s an embrace of artists whose careers have traveled side-by-side his. Chicago 2016 in a time capsule, because oddCouple was right there every step of the way. The title of last track, an oddCouple solo track outing called "Eidetic", explains this further. The definition, "relating to or denoting mental images having unusual vividness and detail, as if actually visible", supports Liberation's intent of preserving a moment in music history, Chicago history, that is one-of a kind. It's a recognition of time and effort.
He was in the studio with Purp helping create his sound, producing “Morning Sex” which would become Joey Purp’s prototype. He was there with Golden and Kelechi, whose parallel career paths between Atlanta and Chicago saw them hustling music alongside each other for years. He was instrumental in helping fellow Closed Sessions artists Jamila Woods and Kweku Collins sculpt their breakdown projects, HEAVN & Nat Love. He pays homage to his hometown by bringing in Siren & WebsterX, his most recent labelmate. His production with them sounds organic because it is, himself an integral piece of the puzzle unlocking the palettes that define them. Whether it's Rich Jones, Jack Red, or GLC, oddCouple has taken the grinders that make the city's music breathe and dedicated an album to them. They deserve it.