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Ohmega Watts

The Find
Ubiquity Records

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Dig deep like Dickens in Ohmega Watts' name and you'll find all the clues you'll need to the Portland emcee's sounds: The aggressive Watts funk he concocts on "That Sound," the old-school nods to original breakbeat riders (Eric B. and "No Omega" Rakim) and the complex noms de rap of Native Tongues. (On "Where It All Started," Watts drops hip-hop originators' names like he's giving directions to the Flatbush home he was born in -- in Kool Herc style, to Jamaican parentage.)

            But it's the megawatt-powered flow and the guttural exclamation that makes Ohmega Watts more than just the sum of his backgrounds. On The Find, the debut full-length he produced from the beats to the cover art, Watts proves that there are still plentiful veins to be backtracked in hip-hop's conscious mines. Digital Underground circa-'89 bounces with the sounds of modern-day jazzophonic Rhodes warriors like Spacek and space-aged groove hounds like Bugz in the Attic to make the likes of "The Find," a perfect cut of summer-skating peace. At other times, Watts resembles funky crate-digging riddim riders like People Under the Stairs, like on the nostalgia-for-the-day "Long Ago."

            If there's a problem through The Find, that's it: nostalgia. It's easy to see how a young emcee such as Watts might reject the easy roads of tattoos and bling in 2005 and wish for a throwback to Tribe Called and De La days. Why must a producer and emcee this immediate, making such bold and lush beats with shoulder-shrugging ease, coherently incorporating more than a dozen guest rappers into what by all rights should be a total mess -- why must an artist like that call bullshit on modern hip hop and wish for decades past?

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