Words by Dwellephant
On a plane out of town last week, I was flipping through the most recent issue of Esquire Magazine. (The one with James Franco on the cover. Freaks and Geeks!) Normally, I skip over the fashion sections, largely because what they recommend I spend on socks in October is slightly more than what I’ll earn in October. But when you’re on a plane with nothing else to do, you read every part of a magazine.
And so it was that I noticed four of the candidates in Esquire‘s Best Dressed Man In America contest, at the bottom of one of the pages. Well, I noticed one of them. This one.
Who’s he? Wale Oyejide: the man you might know as Science Fiction. The man who, under his real name, made one of my favorite albums ever. (See above.) And apparently, he’s a lawyer now, because (no big shock) music wasn’t a great way to make a living. (That was in the print profile.)
If you’ve never heard One Day Everything Changed, you’re missing out on one of the most interesting and personal records Hip-Hop’s ever had in its pocket. I first heard it a few months before its actual release, way back in 2004. I’d never heard of Wale Oyejide before. Never heard of this album. But scanning down the track list, I noticed Jay Dee (a.k.a., J.Dilla) and MF Doom (who contributes to one of the best Hip-Hop tribute tracks ever here) among the cameos. And back in 2004, those names carried a ton of credibility among most Hip-Hop fans.
The album itself is a two-part journey, sonically and lyrically. The first half leans heavily on Oyejide’s own time in Africa, in both subject and sound. He utilizes Afrobeat as well as (and more than) Jay Dee did on Common’s Like Water For Chocolate, and blends it seamlessly into the transitional tracks that take us into the second half of the record, which is filled with more modern sounds. It’s a beautiful piece of work that has no concern over whether what it’s doing still qualifies as whatever genre tag you’re trying to put on it. It’s staying true to itself. Doing it’s own thing. And that’s what generally makes a record great in my book.
While it’s mildly disheartening to find out the musician responsible for one of your all-time favorite records has put his craft on the back-burner to pursue more reasonable and lucrative paths, it’s nice to know he’s at least on the top of some game.