Whether or not that alleged Illuminati-esque meeting of the minds back in 1991 that set hip-hop on its gangster-ific path ever took place is debatable, but the fact that it is on that raucous road is not. In 2013, amidst a lyrical sea of street bikes and shootouts, one wouldn’t expect a mixtape full of Boy Meets World or Nintendo references, but that’s exactly what OCD have done. The duo, emcees Moosh and Twist, take an undeniably more amiable route with their music, which is gloriously laid bare on their latest offering, Back to the Basement. Still, even if they don’t fit the angry hip-hop mold of today, they’re winning fans left and right with something a lot of artists are lacking right now: sincerity. They’ve never killed anyone, and they’d sooner not make music than tell you they have for sport. This goes farther than lyrics, though: Even the floaty instrumentals they choose to spit over are devoid of any gritty pretense, seemingly unable to lie, either.
Talking to Twist, rapper Oliver Feighan’s stage moniker, it’s clear that this honesty is indeed at the heart of whatever OCD does. From obvious things like their message, to the more minute details of their image, everything is coming from a real place. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, they know their approach isn’t for everyone. But it’s all they’ve got.
PW: Back to the Basement was released in March. How’s the reception been for it so far?
TWIST: It’s our favorite project we’ve ever made, and people seem to dig it. We definitely experimented a lot on it. We did a lot more singing than usual. We focused on really trying to make good songs. Instead of just rapping as much as we could on a beat, we really tried to focus on hooks and bridges and all that good stuff.
Do you think fans of a more street- oriented hip-hop are feeling you?
We definitely have some hip-hop heads that really dig our sound. We have tracks that you can [tell] we know how to rap, but the majority of our fans aren’t people bumpin’ Action Bronson and Joey Badass, ya know?
Are you even concerned with that niche?
We definitely could spit 32 bars on every track, have an old sample scratch for the hook and call it day. But that’s not as fun for us. We listen to all types of music, so we’re gonna want to make all types of music. Hip-hop is the core, but we love experimenting. We’re finding our sound, slowly but surely.
Do you worry about getting pigeonholed as the “nice guys of hip-hop?”
It runs through my mind every so often. We’re not portraying anything fake. I’ve never shot a gun, been to jail or been the type to try and fuck as many groupies as possible. That’s just not us. It’s definitely not as appealing to the “mainstream” if we don’t talk about that stuff, but we’re just being honest.
Your videos for “Casino Girl” and “Take Me Back” had some skating going on, and you guys reference Vans and the X Games. Do you feel that you relate to that group?
Yeah, we definitely fuck with skate culture, but I don’t wanna front and say that we can triple kickflip and drop in on an eight-foot lip. I just use my long board to cruise the city.
Skateboarders are a notoriously hard crowd to get in with. Lupe Fiasco wrote a song to connect with them and was instantly labeled a clown by some, whereas newer guys like the Bakery Boys, who actually met at and still skate at Love Park, have everyone’s support.
I think we stay away from saying we’re skaters. I love Lil Wayne and most of what he does, so I don’t really mind, but some people hate the fact that he’s skating and has a brand based around skate culture. As long as we just rep Vans and say we don’t skate for real, I think we’ll be fine.
After building up some serious momentum with your live shows and last few projects, what’s next for OCD? Where do you go from here?
Just continuing to do what we do. We still haven’t had that mixtape or song that “blew up.” We’re gonna keep working, making music, touring, making new fans and just trying to take it to the next level.
Thurs., May 16, 7:30pm. $14. With Evan Riley, Ground Up, Kev Decor, Rowdy City + the Shady Bunch. Theatre of Living Arts, 334 South St. 215.922.1011. tlaphilly.com