Before swagger became Hip Hop’s “it” word there were a handful of emcees that defined the word. Their swag had nothing to do with getting money or living the life of the rich and famous. Their swagger was based on lyrics, on flow, on being better than their peers and knowing it. It could be found in 16 bars and the way that those bars were delivered. Some of those emcees moved units, while others kept the streets buzzing. O.C. and A.G. have always been blessed with a swagger unmatched. With their first joint project, Oasis, the D.I.T.C. connect show that like the D.O.C., no one does it better.
As far as chemistry goes, the way that O and A share the microphone is as good as it gets. Every transition is natural, every hook works for both artists and like every great duo their individual abilities aren’t compromised by their partner. It would been great to see them go a few bars each back and forth sharing a verse, but their ability to weave dope narratives with fresh rhymes throughout the album together is as Hip Hop as it gets. Where many joint albums fail with individual styles clashing, O.C. and A.G. never have this problem. From the braggadocios joints like “Young with Style” to the immensely personal tracks like “Pain” there chemistry works and both emcees shine because of it.
The album starts out beautifully with a sick Statik Selektah beat that O.C. absolutely obliterates. The energy is high from the start, which is created equally by producers like E Blaze and Lord Finesse and by the emcees. This album possesses a very high production quality, even the albums so-so tracks on the album are above average. It again goes back to chemistry. The D.I.T.C. familia is in full effect with Lord Finesse producing several tracks and with Showbiz producing two, and handling the executive producer role. The album benefits from that type of familiarity.
The album in many ways is a tribute to what was dope about the boom bap days. Sometimes the tribute is hidden within dope verses while other times it is apparent like when Show delivers a dope beat in “Boom Bap.” Without reminiscing of the era both O and A delivers verses that captures the best of those days. It’s a theme in the album; the listener can’t help but think of the golden age partially because both of these emcees contributed so much to that era.
Both emcees have their moments where they outshine each other but there is an apparent balance that keeps the listener eager to here which emcee delivers the better 16 on each track. “Reality Is” is clearly a highlight of the album. It’s a well placed change of pace record that sees A.G. spit introspective lines like “Niggas wanna be Tookie, nobody want the penalty / Wanna be remembered, nobody wanna be a memory.” The very next track, “Contagious” O.C. flips a metaphor driven track with classic lyrics like, “We're something like the flu going round / None immune to the sound / You catch it like germs when you give people a pound.” There are quotables throughout this verse and the entire album. It’s difficult to pick the best few bars because both emcees take pride in their writing. If you’re a lyric junkie, then you can find yourself wrapped up in this album for days.
From the beats to the rhymes O and A’s chemistry shines on Oasis. At times, they sound straight out of the '90s New York Hip Hop scene but it’s a good thing. Those years had Black Moon, Brand Nubian, a boom-bapping KRS-One and these two gentlemen. Maybe there is something about confidence, about swagger that transcends time periods. Whether it is Michael Jordan giving his hall of fame acceptance speech talking about playing again, or its O.C. and A.G. creating an album full of it, swagger is something that we all, whether outright or secretively strive for. The album is a fresh of breath air, pure Hip Hop through and through. Lyrically the duo is still brilliant, and still have the best phrasing in hip hop and this album allows us to appreciate just how far ahead of their time they originally were. Oasis is boom bap grown up, a dope record filled with solid production, ill lyrics and confidence.