Producer: Oddisee

In some ways, Oddisee is a hip-hop comfort food artist, apt to be labeled a traditionalist. He came up with the Washington, D.C.-based Diamond District group, a crew whose sound will feel like home to anyone whose earliest hip-hop experiences took place in the opening years of the 1990s. But while he sticks to that production template, he's also liable to subvert and modernize it, offering an expansive flavor of a typically insular sound. Rather than feeling closed off, it's an open and inviting record. Oddisee is also a smart writer, one whose writing on “Way In Way Out” underlines the feeling of being trapped in the current system—not a novel idea, but executed with passion and a deft pen.